Types of homes
Your budget and routine are driving factors in deciding what type of rental home is right for you. Consider the advantages and disadvantages that come with each property type and envision how your home will fit into your daily life and long-term plans.
Single-Family: Typically, these are the largest of the property types – providing you with the most privacy, quiet and space. Keep in mind what that space means in terms of price and upkeep because you may be responsible for some of the home maintenance and the yardwork.
Townhomes: Townhomes can offer the benefits of condominium and single-family living at a more affordable price. They typically offer two levels with good living space and frequently include amenities such as parks and playgrounds. They tend not to require a lot of outside maintenance, but with that comes less privacy than a single-family home.
Apartments & Condominiums: Apartments and condominiums can provide you with a maintenance-free, "on-the-go" lifestyle. Those located in urban settings often offer walkable access to shops, restaurants, and public transportation. They also can offer varying degrees of amenities from gyms to the reliability of an onsite property manager. Condos tend to offer more amenities – like pools and concierge services – and that usually comes with a cost called homeowners association (HOA) fees. If you are looking at a property that is part of an HOA, be sure to find out if you will be responsible for that monthly fee or if it is already included in your rent.
Finding the right location
Think about what you like in a neighborhood and community. Do you care about schools? Is walkability a must? Make sure you’ve determined your priorities before looking at a property and consider ranking them in terms of importance. Key location features you should consider are:
Urban or Suburban. Do you want the convenience and walkability of city life? Or do you want a larger home with a yard, away from the hustle and bustle?
Schools. Do you have school-age children? If so, you’ll want to consider the schools in the community.
Proximity to your job, current and future. Are you willing to make a 45-minute drive to work, or do you want a shorter commute?
Access to Public Transportation. Do you need access to public transportation? Look at local transit schedules and maps to understand what locations could work well for your routine.
Size. Is a three-bedroom home with a fenced-in yard for your dog a priority? If so, you may need to consider homes further from a city-center.
Research Safety. Conduct research to determine if the home is an area you will feel comfortable living in. When touring the property, check that windows lock and deadbolts work.
Who will be involved?
In most cases, you’ll primarily work with a landlord on renting your home. But depending on who you plan to live with and where you’re looking to rent, there are a variety of people you may consult with during the rental process.
Landlords will be either individual property owners or major property management companies. Sometimes an individual landlord will hire a property management company to handle the rental.
Real estate agents or brokers can help you find a property for a fee. Sometimes the landlord pays the fee and sometimes the renter pays the fee.
Neighbors are great resources to help you learn more about a neighborhood or a rental community. When touring homes don’t be afraid to chat with your potential neighbors.
Roommates can help you cut down costs but may have their own set of “must-haves.” Be sure any roommates understand the responsibilities you agree to when signing a lease.
When deciding on a rental home, you’ll have to prioritize what’s right for you and your lifestyle. Remember to consider how location will impact things like your commute, nearby amenities and the type of homes available.