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Affordable Apartment Guide for First-Time Renters

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

The Top 10 Facts Every First-Time Renter Should Know

When you rent an apartment, you want to rent with confidence. As a first-time renter, however; it can be tough to understand a lease and everything you need to be a successful tenant. In this guide, we look at the top 10 facts that every new renter should know and the best ways to prepare yourself for your lease and tenancy.

Why Should You Find an Apartment and Not a House as a First-Time Renter?

Most believe that renting a house is better than renting an apartment, but this is not always true especially if it is the first time you are taking on a lease.

A house requires a lot more maintenance than an apartment which means added costs. If you want to live closer to the city, you will also pay a much higher rent and security deposit for a house. When things go wrong in a rental home such as plumbing or electrical works, there is a maintenance team in an apartment complex, but you may have to find your own plumbing or electrical services in apartments.

Apartments generally cost less per month compared to a house for the monthly rent. This is great for singles and families who need to maintain a budget. You will also pay a lot more for a house than apartments if you want to live near the city and major highways.

Now that you’re aware of the difference between a house and an apartment to rent, let’s look at the costs of a tenancy.

How Much Does an Apartment Cost to Rent?

The general rule for cost-burdened families is to not spend more than 30% of their salaries on rent. This is a rule that both individuals and families can use to remain within budget and to prevent spending more on a rental than is necessary. You can also use this rule to find apartments in a price range that you can afford.

The Average Rent for Apartments in the US

The average rent for an apartment in the US costs $1090 per month. The cheapest and average rent for cities in the US include:

  • Tulsa Oklahoma - $950

  • Indianapolis - $940

  • Kansas City $885

  • Arizona - $751

  • Memphis Tennessee - $730

  • Toledo Ohio - $550

Assessing the monthly rent can help you prepare financially and ensure you can comfortably manage your lease.

City skyline with blue skies and white clouds, with tall sky scraper buildings and surrounding houses beneath.
Analyze your situation and develop a plan best for you.

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Let’s Look at the Top 10 Factors to Rent for Success

1. Research is Key

Perform a property search and carefully examine the rental market before you apply. The internet is the easiest way to do this, and you can set up auto alerts of rentals that become available according to your price range and your location. Check communities and areas that are safe and close to transport or places you need to access frequently. Think of practicality and only then appearances when you look at apartments of interest.

2. Think Affordable

It is easy to find a place to rent and to fall in love with the layout or to only look for properties in high rental areas. This could result in you living paycheck to paycheck because the rent is too high. Determine what you can afford and only then can you find a monthly rent that is within your affordability. You can always save to move into the pricier areas but starts with a budget-wise rental.

3. Consider the Security Deposit

Apart from the monthly rent, you also have upfront costs such as a security deposit and any admin fees requested by landlords or property managers.

You can also receive your security deposit when your lease ends by maintaining the apartment.

4. The Agreement Must be in Writing

Your lease, where your security deposit will be held, and any other changes discussed with the landlord should be in writing. The lease is a legal document that must be upheld for the 6 to 12-month duration that it is active. Written contracts ensure that no one goes back on their word and the tenant-landlord relationship can be guided by the lease terms.

5. Consider Moving Costs

If you have a lot of valuables and little help to move, consider getting quotes from a few moving companies. Compare rates and always look for value. You can also get friends and family to help you load goods onto a trailer and into your new space.

A calculator and a pend with a sheet of paper of calculations
Your budget can become more flexible if you plan.

6. If You have Pets You Have to Pay

Pets should be added to the lease but sometimes you have to pay an additional deposit to keep them. Clarify this with the landlord before you accept the terms and conditions. You should be prepared for the extra expense.

7. Take a Careful Look at the Property

When you shop for a place to rent online, looks can be very deceiving. Don’t simply check the images on the website, but try to visit the apartment to have a look around if it can be arranged. If not, ask for the square footage if this information is not available online. Most complexes offer virtual tours so you can get a better idea of space and the overall condition.

8. Are You Getting a Roommate?

If you are getting a roommate or someone to share the lease, place all the necessary information in the lease. From the rent and security deposit, all contributions to the apartment should be included in writing.

9. Create a List of Property Features and General Condition

A major point of contention among renters and landlords is the security deposit. Landlords want to keep the deposit to cover damages, but tenants may feel they are not responsible for the repairs. The best way to avoid confusion is to make a list of the features when you move in. Take time-stamped images as proof and record any damages or defects that you may pick up on.

10. Create a Checklist

The apartment checklist is a great way to ensure you have everything you need from your bedding and utensils to the emergency numbers for maintenance and service issues.

Don’t Become a Victim of a Rent Scam

A pirate flag in the sky with skulls and bones.
If it seems fishy, then it probably is fishy.

Many have fallen victim to the scam artists of the digital age because of how authentic some of these advertisements and sites appear. You can avoid parting with your hard-earned cash and the frustration of being caught in a scam by considering the following factors:

I). You Cannot View the Property

Be careful of those who don’t want you to view the apartment at all. In light of COVID-19, certain regulations may be in place when viewing a property, but it should be available if it is a legitimate listing.

II). Delayed Documentation

Someone who continuously delays documentation but emphasizes a deposit is a red flag!

III). Refusal to Meet in Person

Someone who will not meet you in person but requires payments, personal information, and other fees should be reported.


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What is the Best Place to Look for Apartments?

This popular site lists a broad range of rental apartments, houses, and more. Here you will find the latest property listings at affordable monthly rent with second-chance opportunities and discounts on your monthly rent.

Find an apartment, a condo, townhouse or other property styles. Refine your search criteria using the online filter and compare furnished apartments, pet-friendly rentals, and even a SoundScore to assess general neighborhood noise. will generate apartments in your chosen area and surrounding locations that match your stipulated requirements. You will also find, a sister website assisting college students to find suitable accommodation.

Apartment Finder

Apartment Finder works by displaying the number of available rentals in select neighborhoods. It is a quick search option, showing the latest listings.

Walk Score

This unique site helps you find walkable rentals or apartments. If you prefer to walk to where you need to be, check this website out.


Despite its shaky reputation, Craigslist is used by many people to find apartments to rent. From finding tenants to share a room to fair rental prices, you can easily find a broad range of offers. Always practice due diligence and research a listing thoroughly when using Craigslist.

As always Happy "affordable" apartment hunting.

Kids and an adult having an Easter egg hunt
Apartment hunting can be as easy as an Easter egg hunt.

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