Renting Your First Place

You’ve decided to move out on your own, congratulations on your big step! Life teaches us lessons and some we don’t learn until we move out on our own. Here are a few tips for first time renters to consider.

  • Location, location, location. Think about where you want to live. Perhaps, you don’t drive and need public transit, you will want to make sure that you’re close to bus stops or areas you go frequently.
  • Look at places in your budget. If you’re moving out by yourself make sure that the rent suits your budget but also leaves you room for any emergency fees, groceries and bills that may/will come your way. A rule of thumb for budgeting housing expenses is that your rent or mortgage, utilities and property insurance shouldn’t exceed 40% of your income.
  • Ask about fees long and short term. This can include things like security (damage) deposit, pet deposits (not all places allow pets – be sure to ask), utilities etc. When considering moving into an apartment building check to see if there are move in/out fees. If you take care of your place, you should get most if not all of your deposits back.
  • Leases. When you rent you will have to seal the deal with a lease, this may be done verbally however is far better to have it written down.
    • Why? As a tenant, you could be held legally responsible for things without being aware. Which makes for some nasty surprises when you move out. Without a written lease people can make things up as they go along. Why leave things to chance? If it winds up in court you could find yourself paying for things you didn’t expect.
    • Types of Leases. There are two types of residential leases in Alberta; month-to-month and fixed term. A month-to-month lease is a continuing lease that ends when either the landlord or the tenant ends the tenancy in a manner provided under the Residential Tenancies Act of Alberta. Term leases can be for any specified length of time, but the most common in Alberta is a six month or a 1-year lease.
    • Tips to Remember: If you don’t plan on moving and want to protect yourself from a rent increase ask for a longer term lease like 2 or 3 years. If you are a student and are planning to move home after the school year is up ask the landlord if they will give you a term lease that matches your school year.
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    Roommates. It’s a nice thought to move in with a friend. If you decide to do this make sure that all of your names are on your lease, this will make everyone accountable for their share of the rent. Make an agreement with your roommates about chores, visitors, pets etc. to prevent any arguments or personal bubble invasions that may arise.

  • Don’t forget your renter’s insurance. Most landlords will require tenants to have insurance. If yours doesn’t, consider getting it anyway – it will help in case of emergencies such as fire, theft etc. If you drive, you may be able to bundle your tenant insurance with your car and/or life insurance!
  • Organizing & Packing. When moving into a new place it’s a good time to declutter, why pack things you don’t need? It’s more items to collect dust and more work for you. Carefully go through your items and decide what you need and store, donate or trash the rest. Check out our blogs on the Truth about Staying Organized and Small Storage for tips on decluttering and solutions to store smaller items that won’t fit in your apartment or condo for a fraction of the cost.
  • Moving day. Arrange for a moving truck and some extra hands to help move your things. Moving day can be exhausting, so budget for pizza and paper plates. This way you won’t have to cook or do dishes your first night.

Done moving in? Now enjoy! Let us know in the comments below if there are any tips for new renters we may have missed.

–Kayla Akerstrom