Tips for Helping Your Child Find their First Apartment

FIrst Apartment

As much as teens and young adults may think they own the world, the odds are good that when the time comes to move out, your son or daughter is going to be looking at you for guidance. If you’ve been a home owner for a while and are nicely settled in, you yourself may not know where to start. Here are some helpful tips for finding your child their first apartment.

Help Them Budget

As a general rule of thumb, rent should be no more than 25 percent of your son or daughter’s monthly earnings. If he or she has a partner or roommate, the rent should be no more than a quarter of their combined earnings. Though this may seem low (particularly if your son or daughter earns only a couple of thousand dollars per month, which is likely if he or she is in college or a recent graduate), the guideline is recommended (and preferred by landlords and owners) out of an abundant sense of caution. The lower the rent amount, the less chance there is of a late or missed payment. Go over your child’s budget with them, including all monthly expenses and debts, to arrive at a number range. We know things will be hectic for them, maybe you could chip in by paying for an apartment cleaning service.

Find the Right Neighborhood

Moving out is so much more than merely finding an apartment to live in (though that’s important too, as you’ll see below). For many young men and women, it represents a first grasp of freedom and independence, and is an opportunity to make their own mark. If you are a suburban parent, don’t be surprised if your son or daughter chooses to move closer to downtown – that’s simply a way of life! Help your child find a neighborhood that meets their needs and wishes. Using sites like CityData, you can compare statistical information for multiple neighborhoods. It’s likely that some neighborhoods on your child’s list are safer than others, and others may be more demographically suited, with individuals in their age range.

Help Them Find a Roommate

If your son or daughter has a partner, then a roommate may not be necessary. However, if money is going to be tight (and you can determine this by helping them budget – see our first tip), a roommate may be a good idea. If he or she has a friend or classmate that is also interested in moving out, it’s a good idea to see if their personalities will mesh. Encourage them to spend more time with these prospective roommates and discuss the possibility. Otherwise, your son or daughter may be able to find a roommate online. Sites like EasyRoommate and Roomiematch make it easy to find like-minded people in your city (or the city where your child will be moving to).

Look for an Apartment Online

Though you likely drove around looking for “Rent” signs when you were a college student, things are done slightly differently these days. The simplest way to find an apartment now is online. Sites like ForRent allow you to search through hundreds, if not thousands of available units in your town (or any town), quickly and easily. Furthermore, you can easily filter based on your personal criteria. If your son or daughter intends to take their childhood pet with them, for example, ForRent will allow him or her to filter by pet availability. Other filters include number of rooms, monthly rent, neighborhood, and available services. Whether seeking apartments for rent in NYC or Topeka, Kansas, your best bet is online.

Inquire About Utilities

Moving into a first apartment presents all sorts of new challenges. Not only will your son or daughter now be responsible for rent (or face eviction!), but in some cases, he or she may have to pay for utilities as well. If your child is hesitant about taking on additional debt, make sure that you inquire about utilities when looking at an apartment. Many complexes and private owners will shoulder this responsibility themselves. Though utilities in an apartment tend to be low, every little bit helps, and if it’s possible to avoid paying them, why not?

Don’t Make Rash Decisions

Don’t let your son or daughter move into the first place that they look at (unless it truly happens to be the best). Find several suitable options and look at all of them in person. If an apartment is unavailable for an in-person inspection, cross it off of the list. From this first batch of apartments, discuss with your child which units they’d like to submit applications for. Remember, each application is likely going to cost from $25-75, so it pays to limit the number of applications that they complete. At a minimum, your son or daughter is going to be locked into a 6-month contract, so make sure that he or she is thinking things over before pulling the trigger. Avoiding making rash decisions can help your child avoid buyer’s remorse.

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