12 Essential Tips I Wish I’d Known Before I Signed My First Lease

    * looks up Hunger Games survival skills *

    1. Be prepared to provide your prospective landlord proof that you can actually afford the rent.

    2. Or ask a friend or family member if they would be willing to co-sign on your behalf.

    3. Look at places to rent that are comfortably within your budget — which should be around 30% of your income.

    4. And remember to factor utilities into that number.

    Me, desperately trying to stay warm this winter without running up the electricity bill.

    Ask for a ballpark figure of what you'll be paying every month for the utilities that aren't included. If you are able to speak to current or previous tenants, check with them that the estimate is accurate.

    5. You'll probably want to find a roommate unless you have a gazillion dollars to spare.

    6. Sign your lease in the winter to avoid peak moving season — and avoid the sweaty business of hauling your crap up several flights of stairs.

    7. Check out all of the cupboards and closets for signs of wear and tear or... vermin.

    8. And run the faucets and shower when you're checking out the place because nothing is more of a letdown than crappy water pressure.

    9. Visit the spot in the afternoon or evening to find out what it's like when people are actually home.

    10. Check out your landlord and apartment building beforehand.

    11. Make sure you have enough cash stashed for the first month because the one-time fees can be hefty.

    12. Read your lease front to back so you aren't paying for any oversights later.

    Once you sign the lease, read this for the next steps: Just 15 Really Smart Things To Do The Next Time You Move