Mark Roemer image of a person with moving boxes piled on top of them

A First-Time Renter’s Guide

For the first, roughly 18 years of our lives, we have the ability to stay in the safety and comfort of our parent’s homes. There is very little we have to pay. Meaning, there is no money coming out of our pockets for the food, gas, electricity, or rent we consume. Of course, the time people are still living at home varies from country to country, state to state, and even family to family. There comes a time in almost everyone’s life that they decide to either move out or are asked to move out by their parents. This move means you are going to have to find a place to live. For most young adults, this means you are going to be renting an apartment. That is the reason I, Mark Roemer, decided to put this first-time renter’s guide together.

It may seem very easy to get a place to live. I am here to tell you; there are things you have never considered and will have to. Some of the things you will need to consider are your needs, your budget, the right apartment for you, how to apply, and how to sign a lease. Throughout this blog, I will make these uncertain times a little easier to deal with. So, join me as I share with you my first-time renter’s guide.

Needs and Budgeting

The first step to moving out is to assess your needs. Unless you are moving in with a bunch of friends, do you really need to have a 4-bedroom apartment? For most people, the answer is no. So, what constitutes a need? For one, location is a need. You will need to be in an ideal location to have access to grocery stores, parks, city life, and of course, your job. One must always consider the proximity of all these things in order to ensure you don’t have to travel too far for the things you are going to need on a daily basis.

The second step is to consider how much of a budget you are going to need. The payments don’t stop after paying the rent. You will need food in the house, electricity, natural gas, trash removal, and overall maintenance of the apartment. Aside from your monthly payments, you will need to consider the following as you set out to start your life.

Security deposits

First and last month’s rent

Application fees

Moving costs

Emergency fund

Pet fees

Parking fees

Renters insurance

This may all seem a bit overwhelming, but I am confident you have a few friends or family members that will be more than happy to help you navigate these obstacles.

Choosing the Right Apartment

After you have decided on what you need in your day to day life, it is time to look at the listings. There are many apartment listing sites as well as Facebook and even newspapers. The advantage of doing a digital search is having the ability to filter your search. Using a paper will not allow you to do this.

Once you have a few apartments on your list, it is time to start looking at the options. To do this, you are going to have to contact the landlord and schedule a visit. The one thing you never want to do when looking at apartments is taking the photos at face value. There are many things that you can’t see in a picture that can detract from the apartment. For one thing, there is no depth perception in a photo. Only when you are standing in the room can you tell if the apartment is right for you. 

Some other things to consider when looking at the apartment are signs of mold or water damage, the functionality of locks, doors, and windows, if the residence is furnished, the appearance and functionality of furniture and appliance, the electrical safety of the house, and whether or not the heating and air condition are in good working order.

While you are visiting the apartment, it would be an excellent opportunity to ask some very specific questions of the landlord. See the list below for items I consider mandatory.

How long are the terms of the lease? (i.e., Are you signing a one-year lease or month to month)

How is the rent paid?

Is this the exact apartment I will be renting?

What are the maintenance rules? What repairs are my responsibility?

How much notice is required to terminate my lease?

Is there parking available? If so, how much does it cost?

What is the landlord’s visitation policy? How much notice do they have to give you?

What, if any, utilities are included in the rent?

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like without being annoying or repetitive. The landlord should be completely transparent with you regarding all inquiries.

Applying and Signing

The rental industry is very fast-paced. When you are out looking at apartments, it is vital to have all the information the landlord may need to sign a lease. The information you should have on hand is a list of your references, bank statements, and a copy of your credit score. Make sure you have one copy of each of these for every apartment you intend to visit.

In some cases, the landlord may not require them to move in. In other cases, you cannot rent an apartment without them. In the rental industry, it is generally considered first come first serve. That means the landlord is not really inclined to wait for you to produce the documents they want. If you don’t have them, they may ask you for them. However, if someone comes along that has the documents they want, they will likely rent to them. Remember, landlords have to pay their mortgages no matter if the apartment is rented or not. It behooves them to have money flowing in to make those payments.


I, Mark Roemer, hope that you find this guide helpful for moving out to your first apartment. It can be tricky to navigate through the troubled waters of the rental industry. However, with a quick re-read of the above blog and a little help from your family and friends, I am more than confident you will find an apartment that is just right for you!