How to: Rent

katherine holmgren, beaverdamusa.comI’ve decided to put down roots in this town. And by “decided” I mean that I’m coming to terms with the fact that living in my friend’s parents’ basement isn’t going to fly forever. And by “put down roots” I mean that I’m becoming a renter.

You see, buying a home would be a monumental commitment for me right now. I just moved back to Kansas…who knows if it’s going to work out for the long haul? I’ve got things I gotta do! I’m a single lady in my early to mid twenties and I can’t be tied down by a mortgage and yard work. There’s life to be lived and things to see!

Also, I cannot afford to buy a house. Just…at all. So the decision is easy.

I’ve rented a few different apartments/houses in my day and I’ve watched others do the same.  Most of the renting world that I have witnessed is fresh-faced kids trying to find a foot in the adult world taking advice from their parents who have been homeowners for 20+ years. They forget that renting is not as responsibility-laden as owning a home. Renting is the easiest thing in the world! #tooblessedtobestressed

Apartment (allow 1-2 days for search and 3-6 weeks for move-in)

Apartment complex living is the simplest renting option on the list. On-site offices fix every problem for you and chances are good that you might be able to steal internet from a neighbor–especially if they are 65 or older. The one rule of your new community living: it needs to have a pool. I cannot stress this enough: You should not live in close proximity to 35 other people unless you are getting something out of it. “Business Centers” and “On-Site Gyms” are for the birds. Secure that pool access and stock up on foam pool noodles. You can never have enough noodles–gluten or otherwise.

But how do I make the first step towards my dream 700 sq ft? The mistake I see most in apartment acquisitions is the approach. We are all afraid of personal interaction in the digital age. For example, you are reading this blog instead of asking a coworker how their weekend was. I get it. But securing the apartment with pool requires old school social gumption; you have to show up or shut up (is that the phrase?). I spent four years living in the most coveted college apartments in Nashville because instead of calling or emailing the office to set up a tour, I showed up at the office door unannounced and put my name in the running. It turns out apartment complexes actually expect you to do things like this and don’t mind showing you around and answering questions. One apartment I visited gave me a tour via a cool golf cart. I’m just saying, my tenacity got me four years of pools, cheap rent, sand volleyball courts, and mystery internet if you used your computer in one corner of the apartment.

House (allow 2-3 days for search and 1-2 weeks for move-in)

Renting a house is a much greater risk/reward scenario than your standard apartment deal. If you miss out on an apartment, there are typically 50 more apartments in that same location that are exactly the same price and layout. You’ll catch the next one. If you miss out on a house, you’re done. You screwed up and it’s gone. If you find the perfect house and act quickly, however, your reward is a space all your own that doesn’t share walls with any weirdos (unless you’ve picked a bad roommate).

When looking for a house, a lot of people make the mistake of forgetting the differences between buying and renting. Buying a house is a pretty big deal. It takes months of searching and narrowing down exactly what you’re looking for and analyzing hundreds of different houses online and in person to find the perfect fit for you. You sign on for a 30 year mortgage and assume responsibility for anything that breaks. Inspectors are involved and lawyers and millions of dollars and…well, honestly I’ve never priced out exactly what goes into buying a house but this seems right.

Renting, on the other hand, happens in the blink of an eye. You find a house, visit it to make sure it’s a real house and not a scam (pro tip: nobody from Africa is trying to rent you a house in America), decide that this place will be “good enough” for at least a year, fill out some paperwork, and move in. There is almost no real work involved. It’s so simple. I found the house I’m moving into online on a Tuesday, viewed it in person on Wednesday, applied Thursday, and was approved on Friday. I’m moving in two weeks later. Every house I’ve lived in has had a transaction time of less than four days. Stop panicking about finding the perfect house to rent. You are renting. You do not need to spend all your money and time on a place that will never actually be yours. Just find a house that works and start worrying about what you need to do to put yourself in a position to buy a house of your own. I mean, honestly.

All this to say, I’m looking for people to help me move next week. Pizza and beer on me but not until after the job is finished and I’ve inspected to make sure you didn’t damage any of my stuff.

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