Why Didn't I Learn This in School: Living Sitch
No one forgets their first apartment.
You can finally crank the music up, make ramen in your underwear and leave the dishes for later. There are unquestionably tons of perks, but there's also a lot to know before you sign the dotted line.
First off, is it better to rent or buy? It really depends on your financial situation. Buying can be good if you have some fat cash for a down payment -- and plan on living there long-term. The longer your stay, the better the investment.
But, if you're like most of us, chances are you will be renting your first place.
Here's a renting rule of thumb: 30 percent of your income - after taxes - is the most you should be paying. If you're strapped for cash, get a roommate!
Another necessary evil in some big cities is the dreaded brokers fee. This can be a hefty cost, but sometimes a broker can make your search a bit easier.
See the U.S. cities with the fastest-growing rent prices:
Also factor in the first and last month of rent plus the security deposit, which all equal about three months of costs you have to pay up front.
And now, the next step: Signing the lease or rental agreement. If you don't have much credit and you're new to the workforce, having a co-signer can help you secure your housing. This co-signer is usually a parent or relative with a little more financial stability.
Next, examine that lease. It's typically a 12-month commitment between the landlord and tenant, but some rental agreements can run month-to-month. So to avoid headaches and hidden penalties, read every line before you sign, and always keep a copy handy for reference. If you have a roommate, make sure both of you sign.
Lastly, there's moving. If you decide to hire movers, try scheduling your move mid-week. Negotiating during off-peak hours can cut your costs by as much as 30 percent! Plus, to avoid extra fees, be up front about all the work involved.
So get psyched -- you're one step closer to feeling the freedom that comes with that new set of keys. Like they say, "There's no place like home!"
Now check out the best locations in the U.S. to buy a home instead of rent: