Renter's Guide to Post Graduation

August 28, 2019

Summer is winding down, and for many recent graduates this means starting their next chapter in life. There are a lot of big decisions to make— beginning a new career and moving to a new place is an exciting time.

Where you'll live is probably top of mind and to help you get started on your rental journey with confidence, here are a few questions to think about.

What can you afford?

As a young adult, maintaining your budget is likey a top priority. It's important to have a solid understanding of your financial situation before you start looking at homes. In addition to your monthly rent payment, don't forget to consider any additional expenses such as utilities and parking. Additionally, there may be up-front costs when you sign your lease including applications fee, first month's rent, security deposit, pet deposit and move-in fee.

Apartment or House?

Depending on where you choose to live, you may have the choice between renting in an apartment complex or a house—there are benefits to both.

In an apartment complex you may have extra amenities and entertainment options like a pool or gym. You'll also have a greater chance of an onsite property manager and the added security offered by a private entry to the building. By comparison, houses usually have more square footage, are quieter and you're not paying for additional amenities. A house can be a better option for you if you own a pet, especially if the house comes with a yard.

Are you prepared to rent?

When signing a lease, the landlord or property manager will want to verify that you are a responsible tenant and that you have the means to pay your rent in full and on time. Most landlords will check your credit and ask for documents during the application process such as proof of identification, rental history and references.

Roommates can help you cut down costs but remember that the people who sign the lease are the ones ultimately responsible for rent payments and any damages.

How long do you plan on living there?

You may have options when it comes to the length of your lease; whether that be month-to-month, six months or a year-long lease. Ending your lease early can mean you're stuck finding a someone to sublet or facing financial and legal consequences for you and any roommates. Here's the difference between lease terms:

  • Short-term lease: Renting month-to-month will allow greater flexibility because you can give short notice when you are ready to move. But, you aren't guaranteed the same rent security as longer leases. For example, your monthly rent might increase whereas in a long-term lease your monthly fees are likely locked in for the term of the lease.
  • Long-term lease: With a year-long lease you are protected against rent increases for the duration of the year. But, this offers you less flexibility if unexpected circumstances arise, and you need to move before your lease expires.

It's important to carefully consider your lifestyle when choosing where you want to live so that you can spend your time focusing on your transition – and not worrying about your living situation. For more tips on renting, visit My Home by Freddie Mac®.