Things to consider when hunting for a rental property

March 03, 2017
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If you’re ready for that next chapter in your life where you move out of home or out of dorm living, it can be both exciting and scary. It’s scary mostly because there’s so much to consider and you have to make a good choice, seeing as you’ll be spending a lot of time there and calling it your new home. Don’t know where to start with your property search? This should narrow it down.

Figure out what you can actually afford

It’s been recommended time and time again that you shouldn’t be paying more than 30 per cent of your wage on rent. For example, if you earn $600 a week, you shouldn’t be paying more than $180 a week. It might seem like you can afford more, but then bills and groceries will come along and send you broke. If you don’t go over the 30 per cent rule, you might even be able to save some money and afford the luxuries of student life like avo on toast.

Is the location convenient to your lifestyle?

There’s a lot of things you need to weigh up before you move in – as well as cost, you also have to think about location in terms of nearby amenities. Map out the closest train station or bus and figure out how easy it’ll be for you to get to uni or work. If you don’t have a car, suss out if there’s a grocery store near you or near public transport. Think about your lifestyle and what would be most convenient to you – if you like going for runs, perhaps consider neighbourhood living rather than right smack bang in the middle of the CBD.

Weigh up what’s most important – you might be willing to endure a longer commute to save a few hundred dollars per month or maybe if it means a train and two buses (with exxy public transport costs), it might not be worth it.

The roommate situation

Think carefully about who you’re going to be living with – you might have plans to move in with your BFFs, but think about whether their personality types work with yours. You might have friends who are fine in small doses but you need a break from, and maybe they’re not the best roommates for you, no matter how close you are.

The same goes for strangers – it’s probs best you get to know the people before you move in to a sharehouse of strangers. Sometimes it’s not always possible, but at least try to have a convo with them about what they expect from housemates, what their hobbies are and just general chit-chat that might reveal what kind of person they are. A simple small convo like that might be a lifesaver if it reveals your potential new housemate is a lazy slob who hosts band practice in the living room every week.

Think of what you can do without

In some cases, you'll find that things you took for granted living at home will cost you when you move out. Unfortunately on a student budget, you might not be able to afford the same luxuries you had at your parent’s house like air conditioning or a dishwasher. Some places will charge more for a car space, so consider whether you’ll need a car or whether there’s ample parking spaces nearby. Make a priority list of things you actually don’t think you could live without (like a built-in wardrobe) and differentiate that from the list of things that you just want and could live without (like a walk-in wardrobe).

Look out for the warning signs

It's super important to attend the inspection -  real estate photos can be deceiving, or maybe the place will be better than the photos IRL if you're lucky. But when you go for the inspection, be on the lookout for any warning signs that it might be a rental property wrought with problems. This could be even the slightest bit of mould in the corner of the ceiling or leaky ceilings in the hallway (sounds crazy, but I've witnessed this at an inspection). Even if the real estate agent is telling you that something is getting fixed, be suspicious that it hasn’t been fixed in time for the inspection. 

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