There is a sense of excitement in getting your own place for the first time. But before the space is found and the lease is signed the process can be daunting. Think of all the not-yet-earned money you’re signing away (or maybe don’t!). The legalese of a contract can seem like a foreign language. And if you have a roommate, how can you be sure things are going to work out?
Here are a few tips for apartment hunting in Beaufort, SC.
1. A VERBAL CONTRACT IS NOT ENOUGH.
Even between roommates. For the uninitiated, a lease is drawn between a landlord and a tenant; a sublet, or sublease, is drawn between a tenant and a third party and is usually in effect for less than a year.
If there is no written contract, there is no means of arbitrating the situation.
There is importance in a roommate contract too. Talk about your living styles. Consider preferences about guests, giving boyfriends keys to the space, and kitchen and bathroom occupation for morning routines. Be honest with yourself and your roommate(s), and be sure everyone agrees on the terms—in theory and in practice. Discuss what's expected and what happens if expectations aren't met. It doesn't have to be over-involved, but opening the conversation at the get-go may help avoid sticky situations down the road.
2. KNOW—AND ACCEPT—THE EXPECTATIONS IN YOUR HOUSING MARKET.
Research the peculiarities of your market. Know what you can afford, and ask around to get savvy on any associated fees. In some cities many places only rent through a broker, and your fee can run up to a full month's rent. The security deposit could be another month's rent. If you're hiring movers, investigate those paid at a flat rate versus those paid by the hour (you may request a cap on your payment, especially if your crew is newer or less experienced). Check that they are insured, as well. The last thing you want is to be uninformed and risk getting ripped off.
3. PRIORITIZE AMENITIES AHEAD OF TIME.
With each move, you want something different in your new home. You need to considered budget, stairs or elevator, distance to public transportation, dishwasher, laundry, and proximity to churches, to name a few, apartment floor plans are also a very important element.
You may make a list that’s too long to be reasonable. Weighing priorities is a balancing act. Create categories on your priority list—“need,” “want,” and “not important”—and bring a written copy with you on your hunt, so that some of the more significant decisions are made before you get attached a less important aspect of a unit.
4. THINK BEYOND THE SCOPE OF THE LEASE.
If you learn six months into your lease that you need to move out at the end of the year, the apartment my not feel much like home—more like a holding zone.
At the end of the day, you want a home you can be comfortable in, and your landlord wants a tenant to take care of the space. Make an effort to build a friendly rapport. Find ways to help out and show your appreciation. In a word, be a good neighbor.
Every living space has its conveniences and flaws. Some you can see up front, while others make themselves known unexpectedly. What matters is not the washing machine or whether or not the crown molding is original. What matters most is the rich life you choose to live in it.