So, you’re ready to rent your first apartment. This is no doubt an exciting time. But before you get the first set of keys to your new digs, you’ll need to ask yourself these questions first.

What does your credit look like?

When renting, your landlord or apartment community will run a standard credit check to learn more about your renting history? So, you might be thinking “But what if I don’t have any renting history, will I still be able to rent an apartment?” The answer is yes. Most companies are looking for a credit score that is at least 620 or higher. If your credit score falls within this range, you should be good to go. If not, there are a few ways you can work on your score. Credit Karma suggests being upfront with any credit issues, providing alternate proof of good credit history, paying more up front or opting for a co-signer or roommate.

What’s your budget?

When shopping around it’s important to keep your budget at top-of-mind. There’s a quick rule of thumb that you can follow to stay on budget. The general suggestion is to spend 30 percent of your income on rent. To figure your budget multiply your income x 0.3.

Where is the community located?

Location, location, location. This factor is key. Is the community close to your workplace? If not, what are the transportation options. Is there public transportation? How will you get to work? Try commuting to and from work during peak commute times to see how long it will take to get to work.

Will you have a roommate?

As we discussed in the credit section, a roommate can be a big plus when renting for the first time. If you do choose to live with a roommate make sure that the both of you are on the same page about payments, bill, duties and responsibilities. Who will handle the finances? Will you split bills 50/50? Who will do the grocery shopping? These are all questions you need to answer.

Is the community dog-friendly?

Have a pet? You’ll need to find out if the apartment community you are thinking about calling home welcomes pets. Some communities limit pets based on breed or size. At MCLife, we welcome pets of all sizes and breeds, from chihuahuas to hounds — all are welcome at our pet-friendly communities.

Will you shop around?

You should! When renting, especially if it’s your first apartment, shopping around is simply a smart decision. No matter how much you love that first community you look at, take time to look at a few more. You may find that a neighboring community is offering an incentive, provides different amenities or is located in a part of town that you want to live.

How will you find your first apartment?

Word of mouth is still a viable way to find a place to live. However, new renters have a surplus of tools, right at their fingertips. Apartments.com, Zillow Rentals, HotPads, and Rent.com are all good places to start.

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