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4 Things I Do to Make Renting My Home Easy and Affordable

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  • Since moving to New York, I’ve found renting to be a better fit for my lifestyle.
  • I take steps to make it easier for my rental application to be approved and my belongings insured.
  • Protecting my credit, having money saved, knowing my budget and having renters insurance makes renting easy. 

When I bought my home in Washington, DC, I was overjoyed. Buying that home was the culmination of a year of working with a realtor to find the right property, months of saving for a down payment, and making sure that I had enough money in the bank so when I finally moved in, I wasn’t house poor. I renovated that house from top to bottom with my fair share of mishaps and emergencies.

But I chose to sell it anyway.

Living in New York after selling my home, I decided I wanted to get to know my new zip code before even thinking of buying. I learned that I prefer to rent — and not only that, but renting for now is beneficial and easy for me.

But renting in New York is a phenomenon in itself. Between the paperwork, the credit score you need, and the amount of money you’re required to have on hand just to move in (especially if you have to pay a broker’s fee), it’s almost like buying a home.

Since I know that renting is what I want to do for now, there are steps I take to make it as easy and affordable as possible.

1. I protect my credit score

Apartment buildings, especially the nicer ones, will pull your credit and require a certain credit score just to rent. A credit score in the 700s is preferable — 670 and above is OK, but you might need a guarantor.

Maintaining a good credit score is important. I make sure that I pay all of my bills on time and I make sure that my credit utilization ratio is not over 30%. I tend to pay my credit cards off every month so that my utilization always positively impacts my credit score.

2. I have a moving fund

What is a moving fund? It is a high-yield savings account where I keep money in just in case I need to move. Most apartment buildings want a security deposit and first month’s rent … and then there is the moving truck. That can be a sizable amount of money.

Suppose the landlord notifies you that they are not renewing your lease or they are selling the building you are living in. You won’t have much time to come up with the cash for a move.

I realize that everyone may not be able to afford this, but ideally it’s important to have money saved to be able to respond to issues, the unexpected or emergencies (which is where an emergency fund comes in).

3. I know my budget

Some brokers will ask you to provide a letter of employment or pay stubs to verify income in order to financially qualify for an apartment before they will even show it to you.

If you are apartment hunting, knowing your budget will save you a lot of time. You won’t waste time viewing options you can’t afford.

Build a Budget
The best budgeting apps can help you get your finances in order and track your monthly spending. Top offers include Rocket Money and Simplifi by Quicken.

4. I have renters insurance

This step actually comes from experiencing a flood in the home I owned. I only had to reflect on the items in the basement that were lost and ruined to understand the importance of having insurance to protect your possessions.

In my rental apartment, renters insurance makes even more sense. You are surrounded by a number of other people and what happens in their apartment can spill over into yours, from floods and leaks to fire. I know that having renters insurance protects me from the unexpected.

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