A guide to finding an apartment after college

Mally Nichols, Reporter

So the college days are coming to an end, and the idea of settling into your career field looms overhead. There are many things to think about: finances, relationships, jobs, and especially a place to live . 

Many students neglect to think about the importance of housing after school, since most have been inhabiting dorms and other university housing options. Getting your first apartment can be intimidating, but there’s nothing a couple of pro tips can’t help.

When it comes to finding an apartment, there are many things to consider. It is important to consider the cost of an apartment in relation to your budget. Making sure that you earn enough money to afford the rent is only half of the battle.

Most apartment complexes require their tenants to bring in at least two or three times the rent in monthly income. For younger tenants who do not have this level of income, like freshly graduated college students, most apartments will require you to appoint a guarantor who will be responsible for paying rent should the resident(s) not be able to.

When it comes to locating an apartment, try starting the housing search on websites like Apartments.com or Zillow. They have plenty of options for places to rent in the Jacksonville area, and even allow searchers to specify the radius in which you would like your apartment to be located. Lots of apartment searchers neglect to consider proximity to important places like work, making these websites a great tool.

Once there’s a few apartments on your list, check the prices and see what apartments offer. It’s important to remember that rent isn’t the only thing to pay for. There’s also WiFi, water, sewer, electricity, trash, cable and other expenses. For tenants who own pets, many apartments charge extra fees like pet deposits and monthly pet rent in order for furry friends to reside in the complex.

If the cost of the apartments are out of your budget, consider finding a roommate to live with. Maybe there’s a friend or a family member who is also looking for a place to live and would be able to half the rent with you. Maybe even grab a couple of roommates to really cut down on those monthly costs.

When the time comes to finally sign the lease, here’s a checklist of important things to do before move-in: 

Understand what your security deposit is for

Here’s a hint: Security deposits are a certain amount of money that the landlord will ask for ahead of time. This money is intended for emergency use, in case there’s any damage to the unit or any rent is missed during the month-to-month payments. The money basically just sits in limbo for the duration of the lease and can be refunded back to you at the end if there was no need to use any of it.

Verify that you have renter’s insurance

Some leases will require that you have renter’s insurance. If the apartment you’re signing with requires an insurance policy, make sure to sign up and get proof of insurance as it will most likely be needed on the move date. Even if the complex does not require renter’s insurance, it’s still good to have in case of an emergency like a fire or theft.

Read the lease carefully

Go through the lease with someone and make sure everything is clear and easy to understand. Ensure that you’re aware of and familiar with all the policies and regulations of the complex before you sign any paperwork or put any furniture inside the unit.

Do a walkthrough of the unit

This one may seem small, but it’s actually a biggie. Make absolutely sure that someone with the apartment complex does a walkthrough with you of the unit you’ll be renting. This way any problems or damages that were in the unit previously can be addressed and listed as not your fault. When it comes time to get the security deposit back, none of those issues can be traced back to you.

Remember to turn ON utilities if necessary

If the apartment does not provide certain utilities like electricity or water, it’s important to ensure that these services are set up prior to move-in and ready to go. It would be awkward to move in somewhere and not be able to turn on any lights, right?

Once all of these things have been checked off the list, it’s time to start putting your belongings inside your new home! While it may be temporary, it’s still important to feel cozy and comfortable in your apartment, so decorate to your heart’s content and then go get some rest. Finding an apartment is a lot of hard work, you deserve it. 


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