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YOUR FIRST APARTMENT!

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA It's that time of year ”“ moving vans are everywhere. Eighty percent of moves happen between April and September. A significant number of those moves are young people leaving the nest for the first time. Many life lessons await them! Some lessons will be painful. Avoid the pain with a little bit of knowledge. CHOOSE YOUR ROOMMATES WELL Everyone will be equally liable for the whole rent, not just their portion. Are the roommates dependable?Do you share a similar lifestyle?What about smoking or drinking?    Frequent guests?How will you resolve conflicts?     IS IT AFFORDABLE? The rule of thumb is to keep housing expenses at 30 percent of your income. But, this is just a guideline and not necessarily the best measure of affordability. If you have a decent income, the remaining 70 percent of your income can be substantial. If you are earning minimum wage, the remaining 70 percent isn”™t much. Spend some time on your budget. Know your monthly net income and recurring expenses (phone, transportation, insurance, etc.). Track spending on food and entertainment. Can you cut some expenses to afford rent? Consider a different neighborhood? More roommates? CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT Most landlords use a screening service for prospective tenants, which includes your credit, your rental history, and your criminal background. They may have credit score thresholds to be considered for a rental. Be proactive by getting your free credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com, to check for errors and other issues that drag your score down, before you pay the application fee to the landlord. If your rental application is denied based on what is in your screening report, you have a right to a free copy of the report. FIND THE RIGHT PLACE Is the apartment convenient for work, school, public transportation?What is the parking situation?What are the utility costs?Is the building secure? Can you [...]

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