Finding Apartments for Rent: A First Time Renter’s Guide

College is your first shot at independence. If you’ve decided to live off-campus, remember that renting can be a challenge and will require responsibility. Before you sign a lease, consider these tips.


You need to clearly define a budget and determine your affordable monthly rent. A good way to determine this number is to add together your income and multiply it by 0.3 to get 30% of your monthly pay. Keeping your goal near or below this number ensures you’ll have enough cash left over to live comfortably. You may also want to consider the possibility of getting a roommate to help with bills. Ask your friends or post ads around campus. If you have pets, you’ll need to make sure each apartment you view allows them, and you’ll also need to account for pet fees and deposits during budgeting.


Once you know for sure that you can afford an off-campus space, you need to decide what type of place you’re looking for and which amenities you can’t live without. Some students do not mind driving to class every day, while others may prefer to bike or walk. A safe and convenient location is crucial. Some properties provide more uptodate features, such as their own washer-dryer unit on site, while others have a communal coin-operated machine. Depending on your location, central heating or air may be a necessity. Larger complexes could have pools, on-site gyms, rooftop spaces, or a variety of other amenities. Knowing what you need and want in your new place will help simplify the search, plus it will save you time and money.


Once you’ve identified your ideal features, it’s time to looking for apartments for rent. Start at your new school. Many universities are affiliated with off-campus apartments, and others can provide resources or refer you to rental properties that are popular with students. This will ensure that your neighbors are your peers. Another option is to find apartments through rent advertisements posted online and in classifieds. There are also probably ads up for rental spaces and roommates all over campus. Look on communal bulletin boards or an online community page for more potential deals.


Once your search has turned up some prospects, it’s time to start calling leasing offices. Narrow your list down to three to five properties and prepare to start viewing. Viewing rentals is very exciting and the prospect of having your own place can be distracting. You’re going to need to take a checklist to each property you view to keep you on track. The checklist will include basic safety standards and common issues like faulty plumbing, broken doors/cabinets, kitchen appliances, and marked up walls/floors. You can make a personalized checklist or download a generic one from the internet, but do not sign a lease without verifying basic safety and checking to make sure everything functions. Any minor issues you notice at the place you decide to lease should be recorded and reported to your apartment manager. Don’t get stuck paying for damage done by a previous tenant.


Apply for apartments one at a time, starting at your first choice. Each place can charge up to $50 for an application fee and if you’re accepted by your first choice there’s no need to waste that cash. If you’re a first-time renter, some apartments for rent will have a first-timer’s policy, but you’re likely going to need a co-signer to apply with you due to lack of credit. At signing, be prepared to fork over two months, plus fees like safety deposits and pet expenses. Leases are typically valid for a 6 month or 12 month term. Read the entire document before you sign to ensure that you won’t be surprised by hidden late fees or other expenses.

Good luck searching apartments for rent and remember, take your time and select a space you love, but don’t blow your monthly budget. Ask an advisor at your school for resources or begin contacting leasing offices in your area today. Move into your new home soon!

How to Find Apartments for Rent

If you are relocating to a new area, finding a place to stay is the most important thing on your list. A new place means you may be unfamiliar with the lay of the land and might not know where there may be apartments for rent. Thankfully, there are many ways to find out which complexes are full and which ones are not.

Starting the Search

Before you start looking, you need to know what area of town you want to live in. Location plays a big factor in determining if the property is going to be a good fit for you. Take into account how close potential listings are to stores, gyms, restaurants, and your work. You should also research about the criminal activity in the area to ensure you are moving into a safe neighborhood.

The other aspect that will help determine where you live is your budget. You should not spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing. You also need to include insurance and utilities into your housing budget.


In almost every city, you can find booklets listing different complexes in the area. While these free circulars are not up to date with who still has apartments for rent and who doesn’t, it is a great place to get a list of what complexes are in your new area. You can look at the location and list of amenities before you contact the leasing office for a tour.

Online Sites

If you have access to the Internet, several sites contain up to date rental information. Like the booklets, you can find out information about the area and property amenities. This method has the added benefit of seeing floor plans and pictures of the grounds and units before you go for a tour. You can even use the sites to contact the management about availability. Some websites have reviews written by residents to help you narrow down your search.

While online, take time to check out the social media pages for any potential properties. You can see up-to-date information and may even learn about new specials not advertised on real estate websites.

Word of Mouth

Even if you are new to an area, you can still ask around about apartments for rent. By asking coworkers or family and friends, you can find out which places you want to check out and the ones you’d rather avoid. You can even get some useful information from store clerks and restaurant staff. If you are currently staying in a hotel, be sure to ask the front desk if they know of places with availability. Be sure to ask for opinions on what they think of the property and management.

Driving Around

You can ask questions, look at all the websites, and still miss a hidden gem. Sometimes you need to get in your car and drive. You may pass apartments for rent while you are learning the area. You can either stop in and talk to the management or go home and look for more information before heading out.

Three Tips for Finding Apartments for Rent

Searching for a new place to live can be an arduous task. Maybe there aren’t a lot of listings in a desirable part of town. Or, there are a lot of listings in that area, but the price is too high. Finding apartments for rent that check all of the boxes usually takes time and patience. Here are three resources that can help even the most experienced renter find their next home.

Local Universities

When most people are looking for real estate rentals, they focus on the newspaper or online classified websites. While both of these are wonderful resources, they are resources that are available to every other person who is looking for a new place. Universities provide renters with great opportunities due to the ever-changing enrollment. Every summer, the vast majority of students go back to their homes, leaving empty houses, condos, and apartments for rent. In many cases, the end of school and the end of their lease does not coincide, leaving students desperate to find someone to take over the monthly payments. The other way that universities can be helpful to renters is that many colleges compile lists of available, off-campus housing. To make it onto the list, students must vouch for the landlord’s competence and trustworthiness. If the school receives complaints about a particular home or landlord, it is removed from the list. In essence, the school has compiled a pre-screened list of the best available units in the area.

Social Media

As mentioned above, most people who are looking for a new place to live, stick to searching the classifieds, in print or digital form. This limits the number of available properties to those whose owners have chosen to advertise. By using social media to broadcast their interest in apartments for rent, people can significantly broaden the scope of their search. An online acquaintance may be moving out of their place, and can put a potential renter in touch with their landlord. A family member might know somebody who is looking for a tenant but not advertising. Spreading the word to friends can only lead to a better chance of finding a great rental.


People who are in a particular line of work tend to know other people in the same profession. Doctors know other doctors. Bartenders buy other bartenders drinks. Professors read and critique other professors. The same is true of landlords. When a tenant is moving out of their rental, most owners would be happy to give him or her advice on places they may know. In many cases, a landlord might manage multiple properties. Along with tips on where to look, landlords can also provide the equally valuable advice on what properties to avoid. Just as with universities and social media, this is a resource that most renters never think to utilize, making the information landlords provide very valuable.

In short, the best way to find great apartments for rent is to utilize resources that are overlooked by other people.