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Tips For First Time Chicago Renters

Published on August 16th, 2013

 Tips For First Time Chicago RentersSo you are finally finished with your undergraduate study and are preparing to move out of your dorm or parents’ house into your very first apartment. Congratulations! This marks the beginning of your long life as an adult renter or homeowner. How do you prepare for that initial move and first lease? You avoid the following downfalls and misconceptions and adhere to Aaron Bros. Moving System, Inc.’s tips for first time renters!

Know Your Budget–When you begin your search for that perfect first apartment it is wise to know your monthly rent limitation. Quite frankly, you want to have enough income to pay for your rent and utilities and live a comfort life, especially here in Chicago. Let’s face it, what’s the use of your Northside apartment if you are eating Ramen Noodle soup every night rather than exploring and spending money in the neighborhood. Many potential landlords will look at your annual income and you should too before signing a lease.

It is recommended that your rent should total 30% of your annual income, or you should make 40 times more than your rent annually. How does this translate into what you can afford? Here’s an example of the math for an individual who makes $50,000 annually:

30% of $50,000 = $15,000 / 12 (months) = $1,250      -OR-       $50,000 / 40 = $1,250

So an individual making $50,000 a year can afford a monthly rent of $1,250 per month. This is a formula most landlords and real estate agents will look at and you should know your number too before you begin your apartment search. Stick with this number, formulas work for a reason! Most landlords do not allow a grace period to pay your rent and will charge a considerable “late fee.”

Impress Your Landlord–If you’re a first time renter you may not have proof of past residency. If this is the case, schmooze them with other information such as income statements and date of employment, bank statements (checking and savings), at least two character references and if needed a willing co-signer. Be professionally dressed and on time to your apartment showing.

Observe Your Surroundings–While you are looking from place to place, make sure to pay attention to who you will be sharing the walls with. Look at your neighbors. Are they elderly and may not like hearing your Playlist on a Tuesday night? Smokers while you’re a nonsmoker, nonsmokers while you are a smoker? Rowdy frat brothers sharing a one bedroom? Is there a strong smell of cooked onions coming from beneath your potential next door neighbor’s door?!! These are all facts that may seem silly but are quite relevant when you consider that you will be sharing a floor with these people for at least 12 months. You have every right to feel comfortable in your new apartment and this extends to all areas of the building. Choose the space that overall lends itself to your comfort.

Ask About (and Plan For!) Utilities–Some apartment buildings include basic utilities like hot water and gas. Make sure to discuss this with potential landlords to keep an accurate account of what your monthly rent includes. Chances are you probably will be responsible for some, if not all utilities like cable/gas/electric so make sure to research the general spend for your building. Also check to see if these companies require a deposit for initial set-up and if budget plans are available to you.

Read Your Lease–Don’t get caught up in the fine print! Read through your lease before signing anything. Make sure to note any additional fees or oddities that the landlord may extend to you. This should include discussing application fees and any deposits if required. Also find out what will be done to your apartment before you move in such as new paint and carpet cleaning. If you are comfortable with the agreement keep a copy for yourself filed safely away for future reference.  (Additional Tip–Do a “walk-through” of the apartment with the landlord before you move in and make note of any existing damage to the property together. Type and have this signed by your landlord and keep it safe with your lease so you will not be held responsible for any existing damage.)

Don’t Forget To Budget For Household Goods–Stocking supplies to get your new apartment livable is expensive. Think of all the items you need: cleaning supplies, towels, rugs, food, dining ware, furniture, etc. etc. Reaching out to secondhand stores and family members is a great place to start for some of these costly items. See if you can score some used furniture. Piecing items together from this thrift store and that relative can actually give your new apartment a custom look. And for things that can’t be passed down like all the cleaning supplies for your kitchen and bathroom, we suggest buying in bulk and slowly accumulating these items so it’s not one big expensive trip at the grocery store. A few months before you begin to move start purchasing items here and there and save them for your new apartment.

After you find your first apartment, contact Aaron Bros. Moving System, Inc. for your moving needs. We require no deposit, have one flat travel fee, and only a two hour minimum.

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