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Thread: First apartment advice

  1. #1

    Default First apartment advice

    So I'm in the process of looking for my first apartment. And I'm feeling very lost and nervous. Would I be able to afford a place at $650 a month? I get paid $700 after taxes per paycheck. So $1400 month. I've paid off my car so the only other expenses would be my phone bill ($70) and my car insurance ($110).
    Also how much is the average water and electric bill for a 1 bedroom?

  2. #2

    Default

    I would say that $650 is too high. When I moved into my first apartment I figured no more than 1/4 of my income per month for rent. You are pushing close to 1/2.
    The other thing is what is it going to cost you to set up the apartment. Things like towels, bedding, pots and pans. I was lucky enough that my Mom and Dad gave me a lot of older stuff that they had around the house. You will also have to figure in food.
    Oh and don't forget apartment insurance. Is the apartment furnished. Also be careful about signing a lease. Read and understand it.
    The cost for utilities will vary from apartment to apartment. The owner can probably give you a general idea as to the average cost.
    The other thing is what are the deposits not only on the apartment but for your utilities.
    I wish you luck. Getting your own place is exciting.

  3. #3

    Default

    Well my current situation is now that my little brother is moving out and moving to south texas to live with a few of his friends my mom is planning on selling our house pretty soon to downsize and getting her own apartment. Which means I have to find a place to live. The cheapest ive found so far is $520 a month and that is in a bad area with alot of crime. I'm trying to avoid that at all costs. I'm having trouble finding a place that is under $600 that isn't in a bad area. But have found a few places in that I would consider safe for $650 a month. So I was hoping if I was careful how I spend my money I would be able to afford a place at $650.

  4. #4

    Default

    $650 a month is the cheapest place around in my area. My brother just moved out about 5 months ago and that's what he pays. I talked to him the other day and he mentioned budgeting $900 a month towards 'house expenses'. This included all the bills needed to maintain it including the cheapest internet plan he could find and a prorated $50 gas bill for heating in the winter. Like Ringer said, when you move out, you will end up needing to buy things you never realized existed because they been taken for granted for years. The things my brother complained about were simple like silverware, a paper towel rack, and curtains/blinds. An excel spreadsheet can be your friend to help keep track of your budgeting and can give a simple idea as to your total living expenses.

  5. #5

    Default

    Some apartment complexes pay for some of the utilities, depending where you live, that is. Where I live it is not uncommon for the apartment complex to pay for water. Ask the place you want to rent what they do and do not pay for. Asmentioned above, there are start up costs such as furnishings, dishes, cleaning supplies. Think about everything you do in your daily life that would need supplies if you were out on your own. Look for garage sales. People who are moving or remodeling will sell everything from dishes to cleaning supplies. Also, if you can afford it, look into renter's insurance in case someone does break in.

    Don't forget food. When I was single I would make hamburger helper for dinner and then have it again the next day for lunch and dinner. Grilled cheese and tomato soup are cheap meals too.

    Your car may be paid off, but remember maintenance and repair bills. Will your mom help you if you get into trouble?

    Lastly, remember your diapers. More importantly, apartment complexes have community trash cans so if you have anything messy, make sure you mask the odor to the trash to avoid comments and to be, well, courteous to others in between collection days.

    Good luck!

  6. #6

    Default

    When you look at a place make sure you do a thorough inspection before signing a lease.

    *Test the water to ensure there's adequate hot water and pressure. Don't be afraid to turn on the faucet taps, showerheads, etc.

    *Ensure that the heat is working (ask whether it's gas or electrical, since electrical heat can produce some whopping bills in the winter time)

    *Make sure the smoke detector is working.

    *Check to see the place is secure, that all the locks are working on the doors and windows and screens are properly installed.

    *Check out all the closet doors, cabinets etc, to make sure they don't fall off the hinges when you open them.

    *Try out the stove to make sure it and all the elements are working.

    *Make sure the fridge and freezer are working properly.

    *Check to see there are adequate, working electrical outlets.

    Also take a look around the building. It will give you an idea of how the landlord cares about the property and complies with maintenance standards.

    Make sure the apartment is actually legal and would pass a municipal residential inspection. A basement apartment with small windows or lack of ventilation should be avoided like the plague and it could be a firetrap.

    If a landlord promises to do some maintenance prior to the move in date, such as painting the unit, or replacing an old carpet, then make sure the promise is in writing, preferably as an addendum to the lease. If the landlord fails to fulfill the obligations a strong case can be made in Landlord-Tenant court to force the landlord to do the work and receive financial compensation if you have written proof.

    If you're sensitive to noise from neighbours, you want a building with good sound protection, preferably concrete walls between units. On the other hand, if you like to blast your music, how would your new neighbours respond?

    Talk to some tenants if you get the opportunity. Ask them how they like living there and how they feel about the landlord, neighbours, neighbourhood.

    Also, the rent advertised may not be set in stone, particularly with smaller landlords. Go see the place first and determine if it's right for you, and don't be afraid to talk it up with the landlord and make a good impression. I know several tenants who do this very well and use this ability to 'talk the landlord down' on the proposed rent.


    Think about things you need to be close by to you:
    *Are there laundry facilities in the building or close by?
    *Is it close to work/school/family/friends/groceries?
    *Is there adequate transportation such as bus routes nearby?

    A lease can be written, oral or implied, but no doubt there is governing legislation where you live pertaining to your rights with respect to privacy, evictions, interference with the tenant's reasonable enjoyment of the premises, legal rent increases, and the right to assign or sublet you apartment. If you had a lease that indicated it was a non smoking building, and a neighbour complained you were smoking in your unit, then there could be reason for a landlord to issue a notice to terminate the tenancy. Make sure you contact the governmental authorities where you live who have jurisdiction in these matters and can advise you about your rights so you don't get swindled by an unscrupulous landlord. Most landlord-tenant authorities or legal clinics will have multiple free brochures on these topics in addition to what's posted on their websites. It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with these laws before you have a problem.

    Also, the lease should clearly lay out who is specifically responsible for paying utilities to avoid a future disputes. For example, in our system, if the lease remains silent on which party is responsible for paying a cost or service and the matter was not discussed at the time the tenancy commences, then the courts (here) will determine that it is the landlord's responsibility to pay the costs. The same applies for any issues that arise in who is responsible for shovelling the parking area or mowing the lawn.

    Also, just because both parties sign a lease doesn't mean that it's automatically enforceable. Tenants don't simply sign their rights away by entering a lease if there is governmental laws to protect them. You cannot be subject to an illegal rent increase, giving up your rights to a fair hearing, or being thrown out onto the street without due process, simply because you signed a document that runs contrary to the laws that protect you from those types of actions. In most cases the sections that are compliant with law will stand, but anything that is in contravention of the laws will be tossed out
    Last edited by Starrunner; 21-Sep-2015 at 02:00.

  7. #7

    Default

    Water and electric vary a lot from state to state and even city to city. Sometimes they're included in rent. Ask.

    Water and sewer run me about $50 a month for two people in a three bedroom house. It used to be half that until we went from municipal well to Lake Michigan water. (two separate bills, two separate legal entities. That's Illinois for ya, a million guys with their hand out expecting you to fill it) The pipe runs through Chicago, so of course the Democratic Machine has to take their not insignificant cut.

    Electricity runs maybe $70-75 a month. I think that's lower than average. Electric heat and AC would impact that significantly if you have and use those things.

    As for $650 a month vs $1400 income, that's kinda high. Not saying its not doable, but there's not a lot of room for emergencies or fun. Good practice if you're considering taking your vows and joining the Brothers of St. Francis.

  8. #8

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Starrunner View Post
    When you look at a place make sure you do a thorough inspection before signing a lease.

    *Test the water too ensure there's adequate hot water and pressure. Don't be afraid to turn on the shower taps, showerheads, etc.

    *Ensure that the heat is working (ask whether it's gas or electrical, since electrical heat can produce some whopping bills in the winter time)

    *Make sure the smoke detector is working.

    *Check to see the place is secure, that all the locks are working on the doors and windows and screens are properly installed.

    *Check out all the closet doors, cabinets etc, to make sure they don't fall off the hinges when you open them.

    *Try out the stove to make sure it and all the elements are working.

    *Make sure the fridge and freezer are working properly.

    *Check to see there are adequate, working electrical outlets.

    Also take a look around the building. It will give you an idea of how the landlord cares about the property and complies with maintenance standards.

    Make sure the apartment is actually legal and would pass a municipal residential inspection. A basement apartment with small windows or lack of ventilation should be avoided like the plague and it could be a firetrap.

    If a landlord promises to do some maintenance prior to the move in date, such as painting the unit, or replacing an old carpet, then make sure the promise is in writing, preferably as an addendum to the lease. If the landlord fails to fulfill the obligations a strong case can be made in Landlord-Tenant court to force the landlord to do the work and receive financial compensation if you have written proof.

    If you're sensitive to noise from neighbours, you want a building with good sound protection, preferably concrete walls between units. On the other hand, if you like to blast your music, how would your new neighbours respond?

    Talk to some tenants if you get the opportunity. Ask them how they like living there and how they feel about the landlord, neighbours, neighbourhood.

    Also, the rent advertised may not be set in stone, particularly with smaller landlords. Go see the place first and determine if it's right for you, and don't be afraid to talk it up with the landlord and make a good impression. I know several tenants hat do this very well and use this ability to 'talk the landlord down' on the proposed rent.


    Think about things you need to be close by to you:
    *Are there laundry facilities in the building or close by?
    *Is it close to work/school/family/friends?
    *Is there adequate transportation such as bus routes nearby?

    A lease can be written, oral or implied, but no doubt there is governing legislation where you live pertaining to your rights with respect to privacy, evictions, interference with the tenant's reasonable enjoyment of the premises, legal rent increases, and the right to assign or sublet you apartment. If you had a lease that indicated it was a non smoking building, and a neighbour complained you were smoking in your unit, then there could be reason for a landlord to issue a notice to terminate the tenancy. Make sure you contact the governmental authorities where you live who have jurisdiction in these matters and can advise you about your rights so you don't get swindled by an unscrupulous landlord. Most landlord tenant authorities or legal clinics will have multiple free brochures on these topics in addition to what's posted on their websites. It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with these laws before you have a problem.

    Also, the lease should clearly lay out who is specifically responsible for paying utilities to avoid a future disputes. For example, in our system, if the lease remains silent on which party is responsible for paying a cost or service and the matter was not discussed at the time the tenancy commences, then the courts (here) will determine that it is the landlord's responsibility to pay the costs. The same applies for any issues that arise in who is responsible for shovelling the parking area or mowing the lawn.

    Also, just because both parties sign a lease doesn't mean that it's automatically enforceable. Tenants don't simply sign their rights away by entering a lease if there is governmental laws to protect them. You cannot be subject to an illegal rent increase, giving up your rights to a fair hearing, or being thrown out onto the street without due process, simply because you signed a document that runs contrary to the laws that protect you from those types of actions. In most cases the sections that are compliant with law will stand, but any contravention of the law will be toss out
    I can not add to this list very much.
    However make sure you write down everything that you find separate from the check-in list with the land lord and then mail it to yourself to get a noted date on it.
    Also take pictures from every angle with and without the lights on.
    The last time I did this and it paid off in dividends. Funny thing "they never got the check in list"!!! I had a copy of that and the pictures I took plus the letter I sent to myself.
    They did not like that on bit or the fact that the reply letter to "the condition of the rental unit" had a CC: to my attorney on it and I sent it registered.

  9. #9

    Default

    The standing financial advice is not to spend more than 1/3 of one's budget on housing. 1/3 of $1400 is $466. You should be strongly considering a roommate, though some really cheap cities may have older units that could get that low even in cheap neighborhoods. I paid about $400-450 living alone in Waco (and like half of that with a roommate), for example, but I'd have a really hard time beating or even finding $650 in a safe neighborhood of Dallas.

    That said, a lot of the standing financial advice becomes mathematically impractical/impossible if you're not making a middle class income, because it is very possible to get paid less than a living wage. $1400/mo is not a living wage in most of America, including populated areas of Texas.



    If $650 gets you a safe apartment at the cheapest possible price, then I'd say go for it while realizing that money is going to be eternally tight, and you need to be moving up in your career track for it to ever get better. It's expensive for your budget but not unworkable mathematically. Living in high crime areas has other costs in the risks you take on. Living with a roommate has other costs in the risks you take on if you don't already know the roommate well enough to trust them.

  10. #10

    Default

    Perhaps look into food stamps or other assistance as well. As everyone here knows, I'm against that sort of thing, but as long as its already out there, I'd rather one of my diapered friends gets it.

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