Are you looking for a home to rent? If you’re new to an area, renting can be a great way to get the lay of the land. Just be sure that you choose a home with the amenities you want — and the price tag you can afford.
Interested in knowing more? Keep reading to learn 7 factors to consider when choosing homes to rent.
1. Stay within Your Budget
If you don’t have the money to shell out for a down payment, renting offers an affordable alternative. Even so, you don’t want to get roped into renting a place that is beyond your means.
Map out your expenses for each month and compare them with your income. Consider things like utility payments, car repairs, and student loans. Also, look at how much you want to save each month.
You may be better off in the long term going with a more modest home with a lower monthly rent. If you’re trying to save money for a home purchase down the road, you can make progress toward saving for the down payment.
2. Consider Proximity to Amenities and Work
How far are you willing to commute to work? Look for homes to rent that will minimize commute times while providing access to great amenities. If you love going to the park, for instance, look in a neighborhood that could be walkable or bikeable.
Regular tasks like grocery shopping and errands should also be priorities. When you need to grab an item or two at the store, it’s preferable to keep the driving time to the nearest store low. Time the routes to see where a potential home stands.
If you have kids, research the local school district. You may want to pinpoint homes in a stronger district. And if bussing is not available, be sure that the home is close enough to school that your child can walk there easily.
3. Know the Condition of the Home
While you won’t be responsible for fixing leaky faucets or a bad HVAC system, you should know what you’re getting into. Renting a charming old home might sound appealing, but it could come with more headaches. Ask the landlord about the home’s age and condition.
Any time your landlord needs to do repairs, they’ll have to notify you first before entering the home. A good landlord who is attentive will text or call you. Even so, you might not want to have your afternoon disrupted by a plumber or handyman.
4. Comparison Shop for Homes to Rent
Comparing rental prices before signing a lease agreement could help you stay within your budget. Especially if you are relocating to a brand new area, it’s important to gauge the market. Research average rental prices in the area so you know what to expect.
Keep a spreadsheet so you can compare a few options. Figure out what aspects of a home are most important to you. For instance, you could be most interested in having a backyard with a patio — or you might prefer a big kitchen.
It’s inevitable that you’ll need to make some concessions, but you should be ready to pounce when the price and place are right. In competitive markets, you may not have time to think for too long!
5. Know the Crime Stats in the Neighborhood
Do you know the crime statistics in your area? When you’re moving to a new city, be aware that even areas that look reasonable might have issues with break-ins and vandalism. Do some online research to determine pockets of a city that you’d prefer to avoid.
Look at the types of crime, too. In an area where car theft is high, you may want to be sure that homes to rent come with garages. And when in doubt, ask people in the neighborhood for their honest impressions of the crime situation.
6. Talk to the Landlord about Rental Terms and Conditions
Before you put pen to paper, know what you’re signing with a lease agreement. How long is your lease term? Is there a penalty for breaking it early?
Understand things like the apartment pet policies and late payment fees. And make sure your landlord articulates what is included and not included. In other words, will you need to shovel snow from the driveway?
While you can take every precaution on the front end, sometimes you still can wind up with a bad living situation. It’s smart to know how to deal with a bad property management company. You’ll want to ask if the landlord manages other properties, and if so, what their track record with repairs and vacancies is like.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
It never hurts to try to negotiate. When you talk to the landlord, try to get a sense of how in-demand the property is. If it’s been sitting vacant for a few months, you might be able to strike a deal.
Consider asking for a slight deduction on the monthly rent. You could also ask for a more flexible lease term if you’re hoping to purchase a house down the road. If you have a robust rental history, can demonstrate stable employment, and have a strong credit score, a landlord might be more willing to cut you a deal.
Exploring Different Types of Homes
When you’re looking for homes to rent, don’t just choose the first one you see. It can pay to comparison shop and explore different types of homes. Come prepared with a list of questions you can ask the landlord, too.
For more guidance on real estate and finance, explore this section of the blog.