Moving out of my parents house and in with my boyfriend for the first time was quite the experience. From minimizing my belongings, to moving boxes up three flights of stairs, to unboxing and settling in, it was overall a joyful experience. As my boyfriend plays FIFA on his Xbox, I sit on the couch drinking Rosé and thinking about how easy this process has been so far…stay tuned for the 2 month update.
Although it might be too early to write about things I wish I knew before making this commitment, for now, I’ll leave you with tips for finding and leasing your first apartment.
- Set a budget
When we first started talking about getting our own place, setting a budget was always the hardest thing to do. I was out of school but he still had a semester left so his income always had a question mark. It’s good to estimate best case scenario and worst case scenario. Its even better if you wait until all renters have a steady income. A good rule of thumb: don’t pay more than 30% of your gross income.
- Choose a neighborhood
A lot of the time, numbers 1 & 2 go hand in hand. Setting your budget has a lot to do with the neighborhood you want to live in. I work in East/Downtown Austin so living close to my work was out of the budget. As I mentioned earlier, my boyfriend was still in school while we were searching for apartments so there wasn’t really second job or office to take into consideration. We were familiar with the Southwest Austin/Southwest Parkway area and it fit perfectly into our budget. Looking for average rent prices by Austin neighborhoods? Check out this map.
- Find a realtor
Realtors aren’t always necessary when looking for apartments, especially if you’ve done this before but we were first-time renters and wanted to be sure we had proper guidance. We had a personal connection in the real-estate business so it worked out well. If you don’t personally know a realtor, I highly recommend Dolores Escamilla with JB Goodwin. Realtors for apartment searches are at no cost to you. They get a pay-out from the property you end up choosing. Our realtor gave us a list of a few apartments in the area we were interested in and after doing our homework, helped us schedule a tour. Dolores even took the tour with us and made sure she asked important questions we didn’t even know to ask. This was the first and only tour during our search and you’ll learn why in tip #4.
- Take advantage of “look & lease” specials
Our realtor helped us locate a brand new complex that wasn’t even finished with construction but had enough buildings open to start taking applications from potential residents. We fell in love with the location, the property and the price. The thing that really sold us was their “look & lease” special. Many apartments have offers similar to this. They usually offer X amount of weeks free and they waive things such as deposits and applications fees. The only catch is that you sign within 24-48 hours of your tour – hence the name “look & lease.” Although we didn’t tour any other properties, we did an intense amount of homework online before deciding to tour this one place. We were almost positive we’d pick this place that we saved touring other places. It doesn’t always work out this way but this is exactly why I’d recommend a realtor who is familiar with the city, the neighborhoods and what is worth your money.
- Making your final decision
Before touring places, be sure to come up with a list of preferences your apartment have. For example, my list consisted of a double-vanity bathroom, washer and dryer in the unit and third-floor availability. Sometimes you’ll have to make sacrifices. For example, we toured a bigger unit that was more spacious but the bathroom didn’t have a double-vanity. So, we ended up with a slightly smaller unit but our bathroom is big enough for the two of us as we get ready for bed at night and wake up to start our day. Understand that you may not check everything off your list of preferences so its good to prioritize them so you’re comfortable making sacrifices if it comes down to it.
If you’re curious about this brand new condo-style apartment in Southwest Austin that I’ve been raving about, check out Hanover Lantana Hills on Facebook and Instagram. More photos of the furnished and decorated apartment to come.