One of the most important steps to finding and renting a new apartment (or buying a house, for that matter) is determining how much you can afford to pay. This may seem, to many of you, like common sense. We have all been in situations where we want so badly to move that we forget to stop and be rational.
Recently, while looking for a new place to live, I came across this video from a guy that says his name is Joe Shmoe. His short 2-minute video reminded me of how important it is to create your budget before you go looking for apartments, whether it be out and about in the city or from the comfort of your couch, searching online. As a rule of thumb, your net monthly income should be 2.5 times higher than your monthly rent. In other words, if your rent is $2800 a month, your net income should be $7000. I know that is not the ideal situation for everyone, but it is a good reference point.
Once you have established your price point, then you can go searching for places that you like that fit into your budget. I would recommend doing an online search using Google or Bing, and creating a list of 5-10 places where you would like to live. Remember, you are searching for a place to call home, and hopefully that means for an extended period of time.
After you have your list, then you can go check out the neighborhood of each address. It it recommended to make 3 trips to each location. One in the daytime, Monday through Friday, so you can observe the daily routine. The second trip should be a daytime visit on Saturday. That is when everyone would be home, and you can get a feel of how people in the community hang out, and interact. The third trip should be on a Saturday night between 10pm and 11pm. You are making this trip to make sure the community is a safe place for you and your family.
If you are satisfied with the neighborhood after your three visits, go ahead and schedule an appointment to see the available apartments in the building. As “Joe Shmoe” said in his video, don’t use the word ‘budget’ when talking to the rental agent. They are usually trained to upsell the clients, and get you to spend more money than you have available.
In my recent search, I found a listing for a brand new apartment in New Jersey with a fitness center, swimming pool, movie screening room, and a whole lot more. Apartmentguide.com indicates that a studio apartment at The One Jersey City starts at $2895 per month. Just a little out of my price range.