Five things I’ve learned in four years of renting

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Two months after graduating college I got my first apartment (I lived in the dorms all four years of college to save money). I roomed with two girls I went to church with and made it a year to ‘find myself and find a stable job’. It was an interesting experience and probably the roughest year for me due to feeling ‘lost’ and my mom battling cancer. Since then, I’ve lived in three other apartments and in the last five years I’ve learned a lot about renting. I plan on buying a house when I’m in my 30s and decide where I want to settle. Until then, I have travel plans! So what have I learned?

Cheap appliances aren’t worth a hoot

My current apartment complex buys cheap appliances, the carpet and tile are clearly lower end and bottom line, you can tell it’s a rental they expect to fix every couple of tenants. Previous apartments haven’ been quite this bad. My former landlord bought quality appliances and boy could you tell a difference. When I do buy a house, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll buy something that is reliable as opposed to the cheap option!

Check the lease

Life happens and sometimes you need to break a lease. Personally I prefer month to month leases, but those are rare. When I sign a lease, I make sure I can afford to get out if something bad happens AND have an emergency fund to help me along if that happens to pay bills and find a new place. I review my lease quarterly to check for any small things that need to be done as well as when it ends.

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(I pay a lot in rent, but being close to festivals, 5K’s, stores and more is worth it!)

Getting what you pay for

Somethings are worth paying extra in terms of rent. It pays to live in a nicer area as opposed to a seedy area. Sometimes amenities factor in here as each person has their own list of what they need/want. For me, it’s worth paying extra for convience and not having roommates. Yes, I could save $500 a month sharing my place, but I’m an introvert and I’d rather pay the extra to live alone. Also, I live close enough to walk to the library, grocery store and work, so the $1200 I pay a month is worth it in what I save in gas and sanity.

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Consider moving

I’m very blessed to have an amazing family. Moving often serves as a reminder to that as I often have a large moving crew of family and friends when I move. I’m sorry to say I do have a lot of stuff (hence my ‘declutter goal’ I set every year), so it comes in handy. That said, it does make me hesitate to move since packing is draining. It was costly for me to move last time due to a broken lease, but hopefully I don’t find myself in that situation again!

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Happiness

Remember, the place you pay money to rent is your home. If you’re not happy with it, consider ways to make it a happy place. For me, home is a place where I can relax, be productive, feel safe and have space for friends who come by or need a place to stay. I’m very happy with where I live now and I enjoy being home (not to sound like a homebody—I mean I have all my crafts, books and video games here!) My apartment is also a reflection of myself in some ways from my book collection to wall of famous people, it feels like home and I feel happy and relaxed here.

What are things you’ve learned from renting?

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