How to Use a Rent Calculator – and Other Essential Tips for First Time Renters
Going out on your own is exciting, but of course it comes with ample challenges too. For anyone looking for their first apartment or house to rent, use our guide to better understand important aspects, from using a rent calculator to dealing with the new neighbors.
Soon you’ll be settled in your very first rental property, enjoying your new environment and perhaps roommates too. But before you get there, there’s a lot of homework to do. You need to safeguard yourself against a range of possible problems that can sneak up and spoil this experience for you.
We list the main tips many renters wish they thought of before signing a contract or moving in. Here’s how you become a smart renter and get yourself a place where everyone will come and hang out with you.
Having a Budget is Crucial
For anyone—whether renting or owning a home—having AND managing a budget is vital. Seeing your income and expenses in black and white can help you plan your finances better. It can be key to avoiding creating debt you won’t be able to pay off. Also, if you’re managing your finances with a partner or roommate, being clear about available cashflow can prevent many misunderstandings and conflict situations.
Consider ALL Your Expenses
When you put together your budget, be realistic about expenses such as groceries and transport. Also, as a first-time renter don’t forget your setup costs. Initially your budget needs to cover furniture, kitchenware and anything else you need to make your home comfortable and practical.
How to Use a Rent Calculator
One way to avoid spending too much is picking a rental that doesn’t put your budget under too much pressure. An online rent calculator is a quick way to determine what you can realistically budget for rent, while still having enough for other expenses.
A rent calculator will request data such as:
- Annual income before tax or after tax
- Recurring debt
- Regular expenses
Enter the amounts to the best of your knowledge, request feedback and the rent calculator will do a calculation. The amount it displays is the maximum amount you can commit for rent without risking overspending each month.
Do Proper, In Person Site Inspections
Yes, we live in an advanced society where you can do a virtual tour of your new digs. But an in-person visit is the only way you’ll get real feedback and information about the possibility of the following problems:
- Pest infestations
- Low water pressure
Before you sign anything, request a visit on site so you can do your own inspection—and take a knowledgeable friend with if you need to.
Never Ignore the Small Print
Another tip before you sign any papers, is to know what you’re signing for. Read every sentence and don’t assume all rental contracts are standard.
Make sure you’re committing to reasonable terms and conditions. It shouldn’t complicate your living there or create problems one day when you give notice that you’re moving out.
Know Your Rights
The only way you’ll know whether terms are unreasonable is if you do a little research. As much as landlords have the right to protect their assets, you have rights to aspects like privacy and the handling of security deposits. Do some research online or ask a lawyer-friend to bring you up to date with your legal rights.
Renters Can Have Insurance Too
While you’re looking at the hard facts, find out about insurance for renters. Cover doesn’t only extend to property owners. You can get insurance for some of your belongings, so you have peace of mind in case a natural disaster strikes or there’s a break in.
Take a Drive Around the Neighborhood—and Look for Parking
Here’s something else to do before you sign. Never mind the apartment—are you sure you even want to live in the neighborhood?
Take the time to drive around at different times of the day so you can gauge and know what to expect in terms of:
- Traffic congestion
- Available parking
- Local eateries that are open at times you would want to order in or go out with friends
Ask About the Neighbors
While out and about, why not ask the locals about their experience living there. The waiter at a restaurant nearby will know whether it’s a rowdy neighborhood with lots of noise. You may even get some inside information on crime levels.
Remember, a landlord will only share the positive aspects of the area and you need the truth before you sign.
Pick Your Roommates with Caution
If your rental arrangement includes roommates, the setup requires careful consideration.
Firstly, always have in depth roommate interview sessions. Whether you’re the one signing the lease and having others stay with you, or you’re the one moving into someone else’s spare room, have a few discussions first. Living together requires compatibility and similar value systems, or you’re bound to but heads often. For example, if you like everything organized and your roommate is messy and doesn’t care about house chores, you won’t enjoy your living environment much. So pick your flat mates with caution.
Once you do find a roommate, discuss house rules that suit everyone and plan a house chore list from the get-go. And don’t forget to have a talk about sharing expenses and the use of common areas. If you want to host a party, when is an appropriate time and who will cover the costs?
This is where tools like chore tracker apps and bill splitting tools come in handy.
Tip: with Enzo you get multiple handy tools in one app!
Make Sure Your Furniture Fits
You’re probably picturing your stunning new—or upcycled—furniture in your new home. But to start arranging the furniture, it first has to get through the door and fit into the room!
Take a tape measure with during your site visit and measure the available floorspace and take note of access points to the building, the apartment and the rooms. Rather invest in more compact pieces if there are no wide sliding doors that will make for easy access.
Take Pictures on Moving Days
Now you finally get to the big day. Moving day!
On this day, keep your camera close or simply use your mobile phone’s camera. Take pictures of just about everything from the moment you arrive:
- The condition of the carpets
- Kitchen cupboards, inside and out
- All windows
- Garden, where applicable
Your landlord can use your security deposit to repair these areas if you damage them. But your photos may prove a crack in the window was there from the start or that the cupboards already had some water damage. You’re safeguarding yourself by keeping record of these details.
Do the same on the day you move out, especially if the landlord can’t do an inspection while you’re on site. Thanks to the date on digital images, you’ll have proof of the condition you left the rental unit in. So, nobody can blame you for damages that occurred during the next person’s moving in.
Small Details that Make a Big Difference
The devil is in the details, so consider all the amenities that will determine how much you enjoy your life as a renter. For example:
- If you often shop online, ask where courier companies can safely deliver packages when you’re not at home.
- Discuss rules about noise levels with the landlord and how they’re enforced. If you study at night, you don’t want other people’s rowdiness bothering, you all the time. Also, if you want to host parties often, you must know whether the rules will allow you to have a bit of loud fun now and then.
- Ask about complaint procedures. If there’s no system in place it will be difficult to get issues resolved, whether it’s a maintenance problem or a tiff with the neighbors.
Just a few of the vital details that will make or break the experience of your new living arrangements.
Use Tech Like Enzo to Simplify Roommate Living
You can solve many common rental issues, including the dynamics of living with roommates. With a chore tracker app, like Enzo which has a robust set of features, you can use technology to:
- Share house rules easily
- Schedule chores and assign responsibilities to make housework fair on everyone
- Communicate about bills, from groceries to utilities, even uploading receipts for roommates to view
- Easily split bills to calculate what you owe each other
- Add events to a calendar so roommates know when you want to host a party or need the house quiet for studying
- Remind everyone about chores, thanks to automatic reminders
Enzo works on Android and iPhone, so any of your roommates can easily join the network.
If you can avoid multiple issues simply by downloading an app, why haven’t you opened your account yet?
Don’t be ‘that’ renter. You can be one step ahead of landlords that want to scam you, neighbors that will make life difficult and roommates that often ‘forget’ their chores.
You have all the facts now. So, stay in control of the rental process and enjoy your home environment that much more!
If you have more tips for other renters, please share in the comments section!