Are you looking for a home to rent in the near future? If you are one of the 45 million people in America that are currently in the Rental market, then most likely you have been faced with the never ending questions and decisions that go into choosing your new home.
Renting allows you to have more flexibility for sure. You are only locked into a property for a year in most cases, and this allows you the control to move around and find better accommodations much more frequently than those who own their own home. This is very attractive to Americans these days, which is shown by the number of renters increasing to its highest rate in 50 years, according to Census Bureau Data.
But with all of this flexibility and control, comes a lot more questions and uncertainty. The home you thought you loved a couple of months ago starts to feel too small. The amenities you thought you needed are no longer important, and you haven't been to the gym once yet! You wish you had gone with the larger townhome you saw. You wish you chose the one with the nicer marble countertops. Or maybe you have too much space and wish you could downsize. You rented your place and then a month later you saw a new building going up across the street that is offering so much more at the same price. All of this buyer's remorse is easily fixable when you are only stuck somewhere for a year, and most people will be ready to pack up and move after the first 1 - 2 years living at a community.
To better help you find your dream home, we have compiled a list of 7 things that every resident should consider before renting!
1) Townhome, Apartment/Condo, or Single-Family?
The most important question revolves around what type of home you should be searching for? Apartments/Condos are often single level spaces with
in a larger building, and most or all of the walls are shared with other living spaces. These homes are usually situated in highly dense urban areas, and come with a load of amenities and conveniences, and cater to a younger audience very well. If you are seeking to live affordably within a larger city, and want to have a lot of things to do outside of the home around you, this is usually your best bet.
On the other end of the spectrum are your Single Family Homes. These are your most stereotypical dwellings. They are usually further from the urban core, but boast larger square footage, more privacy (no shared walls), and more outdoor areas. Most single family homes that are rented out, are often older homes, that may have some deferred maintenance. They often require the tenant to pay all of the utilities, and take care of the lawn and exterior, and occasionally even interior maintenance. If you are looking for a larger home, that gives you that feeling of owning, without actually being tied to a deed, this may the option for you!
The third option, and the one that falls right in the middle of the last two, is your townhomes. Townhomes are single-family style homes, usually comprising of at least two floors, and large square footage, but share at least 1 exterior wall with another townhome. These homes are often featured just outside of the urban core, but still within walking or a short drive distance to everything you could need. They also often have common areas with amenities that all renters are welcome to use. While townhomes are still relatively a new concept, they are growing exponentially, as people see the benefits of being able to have the best of both worlds in terms of large homes for rent, with all of the amenities and proximity to activities they are seeking.
2) Location, Location, Location!
As number 1 explained, the type of home you choose is often very closely related to where you would like to be. So lock down a location first and the rest will get a lot easier. Everyone is different, and within any city, you will find a million different little neighborhoods that may suit your desires the most. Drive or walk around each area that you are contemplating. Make sure to visit a few times, and try to go at different times of the day. You may love a place at 2 pm on a Wednesday, but what does that area look like at 5 pm during rush hour? What does that same place look like on Friday night at 1 am? All of these questions are sure to influence your decisions, so make sure to visit during those times to really see what the area is like.
Map out your commute each day. The average Americans commute time continues to get longer, and according to the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, as of 2018, the average commute time is 26.9 minutes. Having a thirty minute commute each day may be okay with you. I know when I was in NY my friends and family would kill for that short. But for many people, the closer they can live to work, or to public transportation, the better. So check your commute time from every location that is in consideration, as this could be a big tipping point for you.
3) Amenities? What do I need??
Amenities are, "desirable or useful features or facilities of a building or place" according to the dictionary. Everyone has different desires and needs, and so this portion of the decision process is very personal. An amenity can be as simple as the useful space of a home, a fenced in back yard, a washer and dryer in the home, etc. or as complex as a community business center, an onsite swimming pool, onsite workout room, dog park, community social gathering areas, etc. Each person when making the decision needs to contemplate what things are most important. Often people fall into two categories: they either want more space and quiet, peaceful enjoyment, or they want a lot of the "onsite amenities" such as swimming pools, workout equipment, and social areas. This will often go back to the original decision, on whether you want to live in an apartment community, which often has those onsite amenities, a townhome, which often has larger square footage and more peaceful enjoyment, but still some onsite amenities, or if you want complete privacy and a large yard, which would fall in the single family home category.
4) Layout and Square Footage
Square footage and usefulness of the square footage is often a major factor in deciding on your next home. Don't judge a book by its cover however, as square footage on listing sites can be very deceiving. The layout is often far more important than the actual square feet of the home. Many places will boast about their large floor plans, but as you walk them you notice most of the space is taken up with hallways, and smaller bedrooms. Or perhaps they have that one room that isn't fit for anything, and will most likely just go on to collect all your forgotten belongings. Meanwhile, a bright open floor plan with lots of little closets and less, but larger bedrooms might be exactly what you need. You might be surprised how grand a small area can feel when it is designed correctly. Always try and walk the unit you are planning on renting before pulling the trigger. Try and imagine how your furniture and belongings would fit. Remember, the furniture they stage with doesn't stay with you when you rent. You need to make sure the space fits for you!
Price will always play a large factor in your decision process, but don't use the rent price as your only gauging metric. There are a lot of factors that come into play when trying to understand the cost of living somewhere. Some questions you should consider when trying to determine between locations: Who pays the utilities? What does the average cost of utilities look like for this home? (Remember, larger homes cost more to live in. Older homes cost more to live in. Single homes often cost more to live in, as they are not insulated by other homes.) What will the cost be to commute to work in comparison to other homes you are looking at? What amenities are here, and how does that factor into how much you're paying? (i.e, Is there a gym here? If so, can you now cancel your gym membership?) Who takes care of the lawn? Is there a washer and dryer in the unit? Do I have to pay to use the washer and dryer? Who pays for maintenance?
6) Management Company/Owner
Property Managers. The good, the bad, the ugly. If you have lived in a few different rental homes, I'm sure you've run into the bad and the ugly. Property management companies and landlords have a bad reputation for the most part, and there are definitely some companies/owners that deserve the criticism. Renting a home is extremely personal, and yet it is still a business. Companies and owners that run their homes like a business, and treat their customers (you) with respect and dignity, are the ones we want to find. A beautiful home can be ruined by a poorly run company, and vice versa. Always meet with the team, ask questions, make sure they are going to meet your needs. Read reviews of them. If you are currently living in a rental home, leave an honest review for your current managers to help others that come after you.
7) The Lease
The final thing to consider before officially committing to the property is the lease. A lease binds both parties together for the duration of the contract. So many people do not read their lease prior to signing. DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED into signing something without reading it over. Go back to the last topic. If a company or owner doesn't want to give you the time to read over the lease, that often means there is something hidden in it. Ask someone there to go over it with you if you aren't able to understand each section. This lease is your rules, regulations, guidance, and structure for the entirety of your stay. You should know each section as well as the company. ALWAYS get a copy of the lease as well, and hold onto in case of any issues that may arise.
Use these guides in your search for your next home, and you will find yourself in a much better position than most! Renting a home is always emotional, but try and be as objective as possible as you consider these 7 things. Do you want a small but luxurious apartment directly downtown? Do you want a large townhome for rent close to everything but still spacious and private? Or do you want the larger single family home, with a great backyard and the quiet enjoyment of having your own space? Do you need the gym, or is it better to rent something a little less expensive and pay for a gym on your own? Is this apartment actually more convenient to work even though its closer, or is the other apartment more convenient because its closer to transportation and not as heavily trafficked? Ask yourself a ton of questions. Way each pro and con, and make sure to compare multiple options to find the best fit!
Best of luck in your search!!