Renting your first apartment can be a daunting experience, but it’s also extremely exciting—especially when moving to a city as fun as Dallas-Fort Worth! With a little bit of planning and research, you can find the perfect apartment in the DFW area that not only meets your needs, but also fits your budget.
1. Determine Your Budget
To determine your budget, write out your monthly expenses in one column and your monthly income in the second column. Expenses should include car payments, student loans, groceries, eating out, health insurance, pet-related costs, and any other expenses. Consider any future expenses you may incur after the move as well.
According to Chase Bank, renters shouldn’t spend more than 30% of their monthly pre-tax income on housing. This includes rent, utilities, renters’ insurance, and any other related expenses. So, if you make $75,000 per year, you shouldn’t spend more than $1,875 per month on rent and other rent-related expenses.
After determining your budget, you can start to look for apartments that are within your price range, either using online apartment search tools or a rental estate agent to help you find the right apartment.
2. Research the Neighborhood
Dallas-Fort Worth is a huge area with many neighborhoods to choose from. Here are some of the most popular neighborhoods for first-time renters in the area include:
- McKinney, Texas: Located north of Dallas, McKinney offers tree-lined streets, a comfortable pace, and a creative community. It is home to one of the oldest historic downtowns in Texas and offers more than 120 small businesses and 24+ locally owned restaurants.
- Irving, Texas: Conveniently located between Dallas and Fort Worth and close to the DFW International Airport, Irving is part of a larger area known as the DFW Metroplex. The area offers great restaurants and live music venues, as well as the Las Colinas Entertainment District which houses the Toyota Music Factory, Water Street, and tons of great bars and restaurants.
3. Compile the Necessary Paperwork for Your Rental Application
After determining the budget and neighborhood where you want to live, you’ll begin the process of looking at apartments to assess what feels right. When looking at apartments, whether virtually or in person, it’s important to pull together all of the necessary documentation ahead of time so that you can submit your rental application as quickly as possible. Apartments typically go quickly and are on the market one day and gone the next, so you’ll want to move fast when you find something you like. Here are some of the documents you may need when submitting a rental application:
- One form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
- Two recent pay stubs
- A recent bank statement
- A job-offer letter, if recently hired
- University acceptance letter, if applicable
- 1099 tax form, if freelancing or self-employed
- Pet information with your pet’s breed, size, and vaccination history
In addition to the information above, most property management companies will also provide their own rental application which asks for additional information.
4. Obtain Renters’ Insurance
Renters insurance is a type of insurance that protects your personal belongings. While no one ever wants to think about their items being stolen or destroyed, it’s always best to have full coverage of your belongings. Some landlords will not allow tenants to reside in their building unless they have renters’ insurance.
Renters’ insurance typically covers furniture, jewelry, electronics, and clothing on the off chance your items are stolen or destroyed during a natural disaster such as a tornado or hurricane. Shop around and get quotes from several agencies before deciding which one to go with. Another option is to ask your auto insurance provider if they have discounts for bundling car and renters’ insurance policies.
5. Buy Apartment Essentials
When moving into your first apartment, there are several items you should purchase to make your new space feel like home. Here’s a quick checklist of some of the essentials:
- Furniture: bed, mattress, dressers, couch, dining table, chairs.
- Bedding: sheets, pillows, comforter, blankets.
- Towels: bath towels, hand towels, washcloths.
- Kitchen essentials: plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, utensils, pots, pans.
- Appliances: microwave, coffee maker, toaster.
- Cleaning supplies: vacuum cleaner, broom, dustpan, mop, cleaning products.
- Bathroom essentials: shower curtain, bath mat, toilet brush, toilet paper.
- Lighting: table and floor lamps.
- Tools: screwdriver, hammer, pliers, tape measure.
- Miscellaneous items: garbage cans, laundry hamper, coat hangers, first aid kit.
- Safety equipment: smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, first aid kit.
6. Report Rent Payments to a Credit Bureau
Reporting rental payments to a credit bureau can positively impact your credit score. Rent payments are typically not reported to credit bureaus unless a landlord reports delinquent payments to collection agencies. However, several companies now offer services that allow landlords and property managers to report rent payments to credit bureaus, which can help renters build credit and improve their credit score when paid on time and in full.
Having a good credit score can make it easier for renters to secure loans, credit cards, and even rental applications in the future. Some landlords and property management companies work with companies such as Avail and RentTrack. Other companies such as Rent Reporters and LevelCredit allow you to report rent payments on your own for a monthly fee. For those who hope to build credit, reporting rent payments to a credit bureau can make a significant impact in boosting your credit. This, in turn, can help you when buying a car or home in the future.
Finding an apartment in Dallas-Fort Worth can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to take your time and do your research. By determining your budget, researching neighborhoods, pulling together the documents needed, getting renters insurance, and utilizing a move-in checklist, you can help ensure a successful renting experience.
Draper and Kramer’s luxury rentals are the perfect choice for first-time renters looking for coveted amenities and exemplary service. Browse Draper and Kramer’s complete selection of luxury apartment rentals in Dallas-Fort Worth today, which includes properties in Irving and McKinney (including a senior living community).