Once you decide on where you want to live the next step is to apply. If you have no renting history, you will most likely need a cosigner. This is typical for first time renters, as they tend to have little credit history to prove that they will be able to pay their rent. Be careful whom you choose as your cosigner because if you can’t pay your rent the cosigner is liable. When you are applying, there is usually an application fee charged by the apartment company.
One other fee that most people forget about when renting is the damage deposit. Many places charge 1 month of rent for the deposit. But that money isn’t gone forever, because when you move you can get some or all of that deposit back. Many companies deduct from your deposit the costs for a mandatory carpet cleaning after you move out and any damages that you cause. Be sure to read your lease agreement thoroughly before you sign it so that you understand all the terms and conditions. When you are ready to sign the lease, most places will charge first and last months rent, so be prepared.
Once you have signed your lease, go back and look at your budget. You can actually plan for your estimated utility costs. All you have to do is call the utility companies (in Lincoln, Black Hills Energy for gas and Lincoln Electric System for electricity) and get estimates of the past monthly costs at your apartment/house. Once you have figured out those numbers you can start estimating your other costs, such as food, renters insurance, furniture, etc.
Just because you are paying to rent an apartment/house doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. There are lots of rules, from having parties to decorating. Take some time to figure out the policies that are in place so you don’t pay for it later. Living on your own is a big responsibility, but it is a great step toward financial independence.
Written by Tom Myers, SMMC Program Assistant