First impressions are important, but so is digging deeper when it comes to choosing an apartment to rent. Although you might feel comfortable taking the first place that has the amenities and location you’re looking for, it’s worth having a discussion with your future landlord about the agreement considerations that matter most.

Move-In Costs

Some apartment complexes require the first and last month’s rent upfront, which can be quite the surprise for anyone who hasn’t saved up enough to cover those payments. Additionally, nearly every apartment will have some form of security deposit, which is returned in full to the tenant when he or she moves out, provided they have not damaged the property. An apartment that seems like a great deal at first might not be so enticing once all the move-in costs are factored into the price.

Pet Policy

If you have a furry companion, you shouldn’t have to give it up just because you’re moving somewhere new. All too often, renters will forget to mention that they have a pet, which can lead to an eviction in a pet-free building. Don’t get caught by surprise on moving day by learning that your new home doesn’t allow animals. Speak to management about which types of pets are allowed, which are forbidden, and if an additional pet deposit is required. If you have a unique type of pet, such as a ferret, there may be special rules that aren’t initially clear. 

Utilities Included in Rent

This is one category that will vary from apartment to apartment. Some rental agreements include all utilities including electricity, cable, internet, water, heat and more. Others provide a less extensive list of utility offerings such as heat only. Research average utility costs for the neighborhood you’re moving into to get a better idea of what you will be spending in addition to rent each month. Some cities and regions have higher rates than others.

On-Site Amenities

You can save on expenses at the pool, gym, tanning salon or laundromat when your apartment building includes amenities like these on-site. If you don’t want to shell out monthly fees for club memberships, having access to quality facilities just a few steps away is a great convenience. An apartment workout facility, in particular, is especially nice during winter — short cold days tend to freeze people’s motivation. Staying active is easier when you don’t have to leave the building to work out. Find out what perks you could have right at your doorstep.

Moving to a new apartment is exciting, but it’s even more enjoyable when you know exactly what you’re getting into. With a little bit of investigation, you can be sure you’re signing a lease agreement that you can be happy with for the months or years you live in a building.

Some rental agreements forbid painting the walls, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget about attractive interior design. Check out our guide for personalizing your apartment without painting to see how you can spruce up a space without breaking out the paint bucket.