You’ve just got your first job, or you are newly wed, or you’re in a commune, sharing, and now the time has come to move on and find your own place. Whatever the case, what should one look out for.

  1. Location. When looking for your first place, it’s important to note the following; how far will you have to travel to your place of work, how far are the closest shops, is the area fairly safe. Travelling far distances means additional monthly costs, not good if you working with a limited budget.
  2. Stay within your budget. Before you even think of looking for a place to stay, look at your income and work out what you can comfortably afford per month bearing in mind there will always be additional unforeseen costs involved.
  3. Deposit. If your application is approved, you will have to make allowance for a deposit which is generally equivalent to a month’s rent and payable in advance with your first month’s rent. The deposit is there to protect the landlord, that, in the event of you leaving, any damage you might have caused will be covered. It’s not a bad idea when moving in, to go around and make a note of any defects you may find, no matter how small they are. Put it in writing and make the landlord aware so there are no come backs when you leave. Deposits however, are fully refundable providing the place is a reasonable state when you leave.
  4. Parking. If you own a car, check to see what parking facilities are available. Check if it’s covered parking. Is there an additional charge? You don’t want to end up parking your car outside on the street where it is exposed to the elements or worse still, it getting broken into or stolen.
  5. Lease. Once all of the formalities have been covered, you will be required to sign a lease. A lease is a binding agreement between the tenant and the landlord and is there to protect both of you should a dispute arise. Be sure to know the length of the lease and that it fits in with your future plans. Look at any escalation clause, and make sure it’s reasonable. Are you permitted to keep pets. You may want to get yourself a furry companion at a later stage. At the end of the day, be sure to read through it carefully before signing, and if there is anything you are not 100% sure of, get someone who is knowledgeable on legal matters to help you.
  6.  Hidden costs. You’ve budgeted for your rent, but have you budgeted for any additional unforeseen costs you’ll have to fork out for. Most landlords will require that you pay for your own electricity and water. Depending on where you stay, you might have to pay a monthly levy. You may want to employ a part time maid for cleaning, washing and ironing. It’s also not a bad idea to have an emergency stash put aside. You may for instance need it for repairs to something that might break down like a microwave or a washing machine, etc.
  7. Neighbours. Where possible, try and get to know your neighbours. You never know when you might need a helping hand for whatever reason. They can also help to make your stay more pleasant!

Moving for the first time and going it alone can be a daunting experience, but if you do your homework and cover all the bases, this new chapter in your life can be memorable, hopefully not for the wrong reasons.

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