Renting your first apartment is an exciting milestone. It marks a step towards independence and adulthood and so many of us are excited and eager to move into our own space as soon as possible.
While renting your first apartment is great, it also comes with a lot of financial responsibilities and considerations that can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not adequately prepared, and you’re living in Nigeria. So before you pack your bags and say goodbye to your parents, here are some tips for you to take note of to ensure you have a smooth transition into your new living space and to avoid sleeping under the bridge after 3 months.
Tips To Take Note Before Renting Your First Apartment
- Establish a realistic budget
- Know the full cost of renting
- Save for the initial costs
- Understand your contract agreement
- Build a financial cushion
- Consider a roommate
- Compare other options
- Negotiate rent & contract
- Understand your rights
- Invest in insurance
- Plan for rent increases
Establish a Realistic Budget
Creating a budget is the foundation of sound financial management, and it’s especially crucial when renting your first apartment. Start by assessing your monthly income and expenses. Consider all your sources of income, including your salary, part-time job, or any financial support from your family. Then, list all expected monthly expenses, such as rent, utilities, food, transportation, insurance, and entertainment. When determining how much you can afford for rent, ensure it’s an amount you can afford every year without breaking the bank.
Know the Full Cost of Renting
Rent isn’t the only expense associated with getting an apartment. There are several additional costs to be aware of like caution fees, light bills, gas, water, waste management, etc. You also need to furnish the apartment and get basic house needs like a mattress, bed, curtains, pots, fan, fridge, bowls, etc. Side note: the cost of curtains has made many (read me) not want to move out of their parents’ house yet.
As a tenant, you’ll be responsible for minor maintenance and repairs, like changing light bulbs or unclogging drains. So ensure you have money set aside for these expenses.
Save for the Initial Costs
Moving into your first apartment can be costly, with several upfront expenses to consider like caution fees and agent fees. Don’t forget to budget for moving expenses such as hiring a moving truck or professional movers. Unless you’re renting a fully furnished apartment, you’ll need to budget for furniture and household essentials like kitchen appliances, utensils, and linens. Beyond your rent, these are some of the costs to consider that come with getting a new place.
Understand Your Contract Agreement
Your tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms and conditions of your tenancy. It’s essential to read and understand this document thoroughly before signing it. Pay close attention to how long your rent covers. It could be a standard 12-month, a shorter-term time, or even month-to-month. Understand if and when your landlord can increase the rent. Some contracts may include rent escalation clauses, so be prepared for potential increases. Also review the contract to understand who is responsible for specific maintenance tasks and repairs, such as pest control, or compound maintenance. Ensure there are no clauses that bind you to rules you don’t agree with like not cooking, not having guests over, or playing loud music, etc. Lastly, be aware of the penalties or fees associated with breaking the contract early, should you need to do so.
Build a Financial Cushion
Life is unpredictable, and unexpected expenses can arise at any time. Having an emergency fund is crucial to handle these situations without derailing your financial stability. Aim to set aside at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a high-yield savings account. This fund can be a financial safety net to cover rent and other essential expenses if you face a sudden job loss or unexpected medical bills. As you’re looking to rent your first apartment, ensure you have plans and means to build an emergency fund.
Consider a Roommate
If you’re struggling to find an apartment within your budget, consider sharing the costs with a roommate. Sharing rent and utilities can significantly reduce your monthly expenses and make living on your own more affordable. Just be sure to choose a roommate you can trust and communicate effectively with to avoid potential conflicts. Until you shoulder the cost of living alone fully, having a roommate is a good idea.
Compare Other Options
Don’t rush into renting the first apartment you find. Take the time to explore different options and compare them. Consider factors such as location, proximity to work or school, public transportation options, and nearby amenities. By exploring various options, you may find a more affordable apartment that meets your needs. Don’t be so quick to move. Give yourself enough time to get the best deal for your budget.
Negotiate Rent & Contract
Don’t hesitate to negotiate with your potential landlord. While some landlords may not be open to negotiation, others might be willing to lower the rent, and other bills, or offer other incentives to secure a responsible tenant. Be polite and respectful when discussing terms, and be prepared to explain why you believe your request is reasonable. Don’t just accept anything that is presented to you at first.
Understand Your Rights
Familiarize yourself with your rights and the tenancy laws in Nigeria. Knowing your rights as a tenant can help protect you from unfair practices and eviction. Additionally, understanding the laws surrounding rent increases, caution fees, and maintenance responsibilities will empower you to speak for yourself in case of disputes.
Invest in Insurance
Having insurance on your rented apartment may seem like an additional expense, but it’s a wise investment to protect your belongings. It provides coverage in case of theft, damage, or disasters like fires or floods. Do research and find affordable insurance policies and choose one that offers adequate coverage for your budget.
Plan for Rent Increases
Over time, your rent may increase due to inflation or changes in the rental market. Be prepared for these increases by including them in your budget. If you anticipate a substantial increase, consider negotiating with your landlord or explore moving out to a more affordable place.
Renting your first apartment can be exciting, but it also comes with financial responsibilities. Ensure that you have a stable means of income and you can afford the new lifestyle you are getting into. Don’t stumble on a one-time income and think it is wise to rent a place without a plan to sustain the cost over time. With careful planning and financial diligence, you can make your first apartment a comfortable and affordable home. If there is no need for you to get an apartment, by all means, stay at home with your parents. Outside is tough and there’s no need to delve into a world where you get to spend every time when there’s an alternative available. If you have the money to spare, prioritize savings and investments that will get you closer to your financial goals.