Why Didn't I Learn This in School: Living Sitch

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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.

SEE MORE: Why Didn't I Learn This in School: How to Buy Groceries like an Adult

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:

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10 cities with fastest growing rent prices
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10 cities with fastest growing rent prices

#10: Vancouver, Washington
Median 1BR price: $950
Median 2BR price: $1,100
Y/Y price change: 5.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#9: Grand Rapids, Michigan 
Median 1BR price: $780    
Median 2BR price: $910
Y/Y price change: 6.2 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#8: Anaheim, California  
Median 1BR price: $1,390    
Median 2BR price: $1,740
Y/Y price change: 6.3 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#7: Mesa, Arizona  
Median 1BR price: $730    
Median 2BR price: $900
Y/Y price change: 6.4 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#6: Manchester, New Hampshire   
Median 1BR price: $1,450    
Median 2BR price: $1,270
Y/Y price change: 6.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#5: Seattle, Washington   
Median 1BR price: $1,730    
Median 2BR price: $2,300
Y/Y price change: 7.4 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#4: Tacoma, Washington   
Median 1BR price: $1,060    
Median 2BR price: $1,200
Y/Y price change: 7.6 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#3: Stockton, California   
Median 1BR price: $810    
Median 2BR price: $980
Y/Y price change: 7.7 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#2: Reno, Nevada   
Median 1BR price: $700    
Median 2BR price: $900
Y/Y price change: 7.9 percent

Photo credit: Getty

#1: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Median 1BR price: $800    
Median 2BR price: $980
Y/Y price change: 9.1 percent

Photo credit: Getty

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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:

11 PHOTOS
10 best big cities in the US to buy a home instead of rent
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10 best big cities in the US to buy a home instead of rent

Tampa, Florida

(Photo via Getty)

Charlotte, North Carolina

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Atlanta, Georgia

(Photo via Getty)

Miami, Florida

(Photo via Getty)

Baltimore, Maryland

(Photo via Getty)

Austin, Texas

(Photo via Getty)

St. Louis, Missouri

(Photo via Getty)

Dallas, Texas

(Photo via Getty)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Detroit, Michigan

(Photo via Getty)

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