Moving into your first apartment is an exciting time. Still, you also have a lot of responsibilities to make sure everything goes smoothly when moving day arrives. While you’re probably excited about moving out of your parents’ house, renting an apartment comes with a variety of costs and tasks you’re likely not accustomed to. In the weeks leading up to your big move, use these steps to create a plan that will help you ensure you have everything you need for an enjoyable first day in your new apartment.
Table of Contents
1. Create a Budget for Your First Apartment
Generally, new renters concentrate on the cost of monthly rent payments and forget the other expenses associated with moving to a new apartment. Your budget will determine how much rent you can afford along with your other expenses. Determine your expected monthly expenses and one-time expenses associated with moving. Costs to include in your budget include:
- Monthly Utility Costs
- Renter’s Insurance
- Cable and Internet Costs
- Security Deposit for the Apartment
- Deposits and Installation Fees for Utilities
- Lastly, moving Costs
2. Learn About Lease Terms
Renting an apartment has certain perks and disadvantages that are quite different from homeownership. Before you choose an apartment, it’s essential to have a firm understanding of your responsibilities and those of your landlord. Your lease will provide important information about when your rent is due and how you make payments. It also includes:
- Visitor Policies
- Extra Charges
- Policies Surrounding Decorations or Making Changes to the Apartment
- Parking Policies
- Pet Policies and Rules
As a renter, it’s important to know that your landlord also has responsibilities to keep the apartment maintained and essential systems in working order. If your lease doesn’t describe how maintenance requests work, discuss the procedure with your landlord.
3. Gather Essential Documents
When you find an apartment you love, you’ll be required to fill out a rental application. Your application will require you to furnish certain documents for verification. You’ll need these items when you fill out your rental application.
- A valid I.D.: Your driver’s license number will be used to verify your identity
- Social Security Card: Most rental agreements require your social security number to perform a background and credit check.
- Bank Statements: Your landlord is most interested in your ability to pay rent. Your recent bank statements help establish your income and savings history.
- Check Stubs: Your employment history helps clarify your current financial situation and your ability to pay the rent each month. If you’re new to your job, a letter from your employer might provide the necessary information.
- Referral Letters: If you’ve rented in the past, your landlord will want letters from previous landlords. Otherwise, referrals from your employer, coworkers, or other reputable non-family members who can attest to your responsible nature.
If your income or credit history is lacking, your potential landlord may ask you to use a cosigner to complete your rental application. Note that your cosigner will be expected to pay your rent if you default on payments, so it’s essential to ask someone you know and trust for this assistance.
Planning a Move and Not Sure What You need to do?
4. Obtain Renter’s Insurance
While state laws don’t require you to have renter’s insurance, your landlord will probably require you to purchase a policy before signing the lease. Renter’s insurance is designed to protect your possessions in the event covered perils like fire, water damage, theft, or storm damage. Often, renters are surprised to learn that the landlord’s home insurance doesn’t protect their belongings. Since you don’t own the property or apartment you live in, you only need a policy to protect your possessions. Renter’s insurance is one of the most affordable policies available and can be tailored to provide coverage for the cost of repair or replacement of your unique possessions when damaged or destroyed during an unexpected disaster.
5. Change Your Address to Your New Apartment
Changing your address is a simple process that will help you ensure you don’t miss payments and other important information during the busy days following your move. To change your postal address, you’ll need to fill out a form and pay a small fee. Your address change form ensures your mail gets forwarded to your new address beginning on your move date. Then, you can complete your address change online or at the post office.
6. Set Up Your Utilities
You don’t want to spend your first night in your new place without lights or heat. Your landlord may cover certain costs like trash and water, but you’ll be responsible for the bulk of your utilities. You’ll need to learn about the providers in your area, pay the necessary deposits, and ensure you’ll have service by moving day. For best results, you’ll want to contact local providers at least two weeks ahead of moving day.
7. Create an Essentials Checklist
It’s easy to get used to all the essentials that are already in place in your home. When you move, you’ll have to stock up on the necessities you always take for granted. While it probably seems like you already have to move more belongings than will fit in your new apartment, it’s vital to consider the items you may have never had to purchase before. Your checklist should include:
- Kitchen Essentials (like pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and utensils)
- Cleaning Products and Tools
- Storage Solutions and Clothes Hangers
- Extra Sheets and Towels
- Toilet Paper and a Plunger
- Small Appliances (like a coffeepot and toaster)
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Tool Kit
- Extension Cords
- Lastly, Trash Cans
Tenant at Will Rental Agreement vs Lease Agreement
As a renter, you’ll sign an agreement with your landlord that outlines your and your landlord’s obligations. The two most common documents used for this purpose are a Tenant at Will Rental Agreement and a Lease Agreement. While these documents are similar and the terms often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between the two agreements.
Tenant at Will Rental Agreement
Usually referred to as a rental agreement, a tenant at will agreement works on a month-to-month basis. This means you’ll pay your rent at the beginning of each month with no long-term requirements. Typically, a rental agreement assumes that you’ll remain in the dwelling and automatically renews from month to month unless you or your landlord make changes. While a tenant at will rental agreement offers you the freedom to leave when you’re ready, it also gives your landlord a significant amount of freedom. Your rent could change from month to month or other terms of your rental agreement could be altered (like your landlord’s obligations or your right to have pets in the home).
A lease agreement is an agreement between a landlord and tenant that states the tenant will live at a residence for a specific period of time (usually 12 months). During the lease period, the terms of your rental property (like your monthly rent) won’t change. While a lease locks in your payment rate and ensures your landlord can’t kick you out unless you fail to comply with the terms outlined in the lease, it also means you have certain requirements. Once you sign the contract, you’re legally required to pay the agreed-upon monthly rent for the entire term. This means if you decide you want to move out early, you might still be on the hook for monthly rental payments for an apartment you’re no longer living in.
Both contracts outline your rights and responsibilities as a renter and neither of these agreements is superior. Essentially, deciding whether a lease or rental agreement is right for you depends on your future plans and your desire for a semi-permanent residence.
5 FAQs About Moving into your First Apartment
How much money will I need for a security deposit?
The price of a security deposit is typically the cost of a full month’s rent. Additional fees may apply if you have pets or other factors that may lead to unexpected damage to the apartment.
How much insurance do I need?
As a renter, your responsibility is to protect the items you own. While your landlord’s insurance policy likely protects your apartment, your personal belongings aren’t protected. Your renter’s insurance policy should provide coverage for full replacement of your belongings in the event of a total loss.
How do I protect my car while living in an apartment?
As a driver in Massachusetts, you likely already have the required level of auto insurance to cover certain liabilities in the event of an accident. However, the minimum insurance requirement doesn’t provide protection against possession theft or vandalism/stolen parts from your parked vehicle. If you’re concerned about potential damage to your personal vehicle, you may consider upgrading your auto insurance with a comprehensive policy.
Can I bring a pet to my new apartment?
Rules vary from one apartment to the next regarding pets. If pets are allowed in your apartment, certain restrictions and fees may be added to your deposit and your monthly rent. If you’re moving to a new city, remember to get your pet licensed, find a new vet, and get a pet insurance policy.
How much will it cost to move to my new apartment?
Moving costs vary widely. You can save money if you have helpers and are prepared for the labor associated with a DIY move. Whether you hire professional movers or gather a group of friends to help, you’ll need to factor in the costs of packing materials, travel, various deposits, tips, and groceries. Other factors you may need to consider are storage costs and moving insurance if your current policy doesn’t cover your possessions while in transit.
Find More Tips for Moving Into Your First Apartment
There’s no doubt that you’ll need to make more than a few trips to the nearest department store during the first few weeks in your first apartments. Still, having the essentials on hand can make all the difference.
Moving into your first apartment is an exciting and overwhelming time. However, preparation will help make the process enjoyable. To learn more about how to protect your possessions as a renter in Massachusetts, get in touch with the insurance experts at LoPriore Insurance Agency. Indeed, our independent agents help you create customized insurance policies to fit your lifestyle at a price you can afford.