Aware of Hidden Costs for a First Time Renter

Monday, October 12, 2009

So you’ve found the apartment of your dreams, and after seeing how much the rent will be and checking your budget, it looks like you’re all ready to sign the lease and move right in. Pretty easy, right? Not so fast. If you’re a first-time renter, there are a variety of extra expenses that you have to take into account before choosing an apartment – ones that could drastically throw off your budget if you’re not ready for them.

Learn what utilities your lease covers. Some apartments are "all-inclusive", but make sure you understand what is included as this is a vague term. Utilities to check are phone, Internet, cable, water, gas, and hydro. Ask if there are any seasonal expenses not included in your rent, such an air conditioning fee in the summer. Consider how much storage you need. Sometimes a closet just isn’t enough space to hold all of your things. Some apartments have extra storage space that you can use – whether this space is free to use or is available on a monthly rental differs from apartment to apartment. If there is no extra space in your apartment building and you really need the room, you can always look into renting an off-site storage unit. Look into transportation related costs.If you have a car, it’s only natural that you’re going to need a place to park it. Is parking included with your rent? If not, you may have to buy a separate parking permit, either for a space in your apartment’s lot or somewhere nearby.

If you don’t have a car, check out public transportation options and costs. Depending on where you live, you may be looking at buses, subways or trains.Remember your laundry. Does your unit have its own laundry? Is there a communal laundry room that requires exact change? Will you need to take your laundry to an off-site location. Each option carries distinct costs. Get renter's insurance. Many leases require this coverage. It is not usually very expensive, and can ofter be combined into your car insurance. Consider your smoke detector. Is it wired into the building, or are you responsible for keeping working batteries in it? If your unit has a carbon monoxide detector, the same considerations apply. Remember the cost of groceries. Most people leave this out of their budget since it is highly flexible, which is a huge mistake.

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