Step 3: How to Set a Budget for Your Home Rental
Moving can be an expensive process, and preparation is the key to a successful move. Focus on your budget, turn to your friends and family for help, and be realistic about your expectations to make this move enjoyable.
When searching for a new home to rent, it is natural to start looking based on price. The initial price might not look like a stretch, but down the road, you might realize you’re struggling to keep up. Keep your new rental home search around a budget you can afford. Tip: having a roommate will reduce the cost of rent. It will not only make it less expensive, but it also gives you more freedom in selecting your next rental. Before you make a decision regarding a roommate, make sure you are prepared to live with a roommate, as it is not for everyone.
Another important thing to remember is what day of the month your rent is due. This will help calculate how much money is going in and out, and during what time of the month (it also helps avoid late fees). Consider online budget tracking apps like Mint.com, Budget Tracker, and Duck Software’s Budget Tracker. All three apps are free and can help you manage your expenses. Check with the apartment community or property owner about paying rent online to avoid missing a payment.
Make sure to ask the property manager or owner which, if any, utilities are included. Renters commonly pay for water, electric, and gas. Trash removal is usually included in rent price unless stated otherwise by the property owner or apartment community, but it always good to double check. It is common for leasing staff or the property owner to provide you with companies that you should use for utilities. Call those utility companies and give them the address you’re considering renting, then ask for an estimate. This will help you see how much utilities could cost you each month living in that particular rental property and save you from panic in those first few months.
A great website and app resource to see all your balances and transactions together: Mint.com
An effective money management tool designed to keep track of all your transactions and bank accounts: Budget Tracker
Check Your Credit
Once you understand how much you can afford it’s a great idea to check your credit rating, as it’s one of the first things your new landlord or property owner is likely to do once you’ve applied. The government mandates that the primary credit companies provide a free credit report to consumers once a year. The easiest way to get that report is using the federally-recommended Annual Credit Report site.
If you have good to great credit, you generally have nothing to worry about. If your credit has any issues, you may need to find a co-signer on any lease, but don’t assume a relatively clean credit sheet with a few blemishes is a concern. Having a steady income, good references and a pleasant and polite disposition can, in many cases, make up for a less than a stellar credit report. In any case, be ready to explain the reasons behind your credit score to potential landlords if it’s low, and what you’re doing to improve and fix it.