My First Lease

Budget wisely.

When looking for your first place, one deciding factor should be that the rent should be no more than 25-30% of what you make annually.


Renter’s insurance isn’t required in most leases, but it is something everyone should look into. The fees typically range from $75-$150 a year. It can cover a lot more than you think. It is worth looking into, but not always for everyone.


The first month’s fees and bills always seem like the most expensive. Most complexes make you pay application fee, deposits, electricity- bill includes usage and fee to turn it on/activate it, water- includes fee to turn it on, gas- activation fee and usage, TV/cable- deposit, activation, and monthly charges. You also have to keep in mind for groceries, gas, and personal expenses. All of these can add up quick, so be wise about spending!


Most apartment complexes make tenants pay a deposit before moving in. This deposit can range anywhere from $250-$600 between all roommates. This deposit is given back to you upon moving out if there is no damage outside of NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR. This means that they may not keep your deposit for worn in carpets. Stains, burns, etc do not apply, but normal wear and tear is not grounds for keeping your deposit. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK UP ON THIS!


Furnished apartments tend to be more expensive than unfurnished apartments. If you have the furniture, try looking for an unfurnished apartment. You might be surprised not only by how much you’ll be saving, but also by how you have the freedom to decorate, style, and layout your apartment the way YOU want it.


Unfortunately, most apartment complexes only offer 12 month leases. Don’t be afraid to ask if they offer other options, if they allow subletting, or if they will go one step further and find a sublet for you. If you plan on doing summer school, then you have nothing to worry about. But if not, then start looking for someone to take over your lease as soon as possible.


Get to know your neighbors. You never know when you might need to borrow a cup of sugar or milk from them. And who knows, they might have taken a course or professor that you’re having trouble with and who better to help than someone who has been through it and lives 10 feet away. Talk about saving gas!