There’s been a massive shift in the American housing market; an increasing number of families are choosing to rent instead of own, and this has completely shifted the way we search for housing. If you’re selling your home to rent instead, or you’ve always rented and are simply looking for a new place that better caters to your family, consider the following steps.
Take a Look at Your Budget
Before you can begin looking for apartments or houses, it’s important to consider your budget. As the rental market is extremely competitive, prices may be higher than you might have initially anticipated. Once you have your personal family budget, stay within it. It can be easy to convince yourself you can afford this wonderful place with your dream amenities, but if you run out of rent money a few months in, you’ll spend more trying to find a new place.
Consider the Community
With kids in the picture, there’s far more to look at than just the house itself. It’s important to choose a rental community with local amenities and school district in mind. Look for areas that boast great schools, find areas with libraries, and try to live in an area with easy access to grocery stores. It’s also important to take a look at common community statistics, like crime rates, foreclosures, and the like. All of these factors can play into the type of neighborhood you’ll find yourself in, and keeping your family safe means taking the time to do your homework on communities before even beginning to look at specific rentals.
Start Your Search Early
It’s important to begin your rental search as soon as possible, and practice patience. You’re bound to run into some duds during your search, and you’ll probably see a few places that were very deceptively marketed—they won’t look anything like you expected. With that knowledge in mind, give yourself a cushion of time. If you’re selling a home, or coming up on the end of your lease, you’ll want to have at least three months during which to take a look at the area. Even if you don’t find the rental you want months in advance, you’ll have more time to consider the neighborhood and examine your priorities. Use sites like HotPads.com to help you narrow down your search.
Consider the Bathroom Situation
Depending on how many children you have, and their ages, the number of bathrooms in a rental can be a make or break factor for many families. For younger children, it’s easy and sometimes preferable to have a shared bathroom space. However, preteens and teenagers represent an entirely new challenge when it comes to bathrooms. Teens are notorious for “hogging” this room of the house, and if you have one or more teenaged kids in your home, it’s in your best interest to look for a rental home that offers at least two or more full bathrooms.
Consider Your Children’s Wishes
We assume we always know what’s best for our children, but sometimes we can let a few things slip past our notice. When searching for a new home, always take your children’s wants and concerns into consideration. Maybe your kids are overjoyed at the thought of a yard to play in, or perhaps they need a room that’s dedicated to homework to help them focus. Taking the time to talk to your little ones (and bigger ones) about what they want in a home will also help ease them into the move and may help them transition quickly. As moves can be traumatic for children, it’s important to do anything you can to ease any stress they may be feeling with this life event.
What to Know About the Application Process
As you begin to apply to different rental homes, keep your family and your finances safe. You’ll be handing over a bevy of personal information, so make sure your prospective landlords are always using tenant screening services. Usually, these allow you to enter your information online, without the landlord (or anyone else) gaining access to sensitive documents and personal identification numbers. Know that you’ll typically pay around $30 per application fee, which pays for the landlord’s screening services, but this can vary depending on your location and the property in question. Once your application is accepted, and the landlord extends the opportunity to sign a lease, make sure you go through provision by provision.
As you search for a rental home for your family, keep these facts in mind: Take your time, consider your budget, and listen to your family as you make your decision to ensure the best fit possible.