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WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The process of home hunting can be fun for renters, but sometimes it's a difficult one as well. Renters in some areas have a vast assortment to choose from, and narrowing down your choices can be tough. With so many homes to look at, it is good to have a list of characteristics to look for in a rental. When you know what to look for in a rental home, the search will go faster and you will be much more likely to be satisfied with your choice later on down the road. The location of a rental is important for obvious reasons. Proximity to work and school and to friends and family is a huge factor to consider. The size and condition of a rental dwelling is also something to look at. You need a home that's not too big but not too small. You have to be able to fit everyone in your family and all their stuff and you want to do it comfortably. But you don't want to waste money on a place that's way too big.

The condition and features of a home have to be looked at right alongside its size. If it is in rough shape, that has to be factored into what you are paying for the home as well. And any features you are looking for that are lacking take away from its desirability, given the fact that you will be paying for the right to live there month after month. And all this leads us to probably the biggest factor off all for most of us renters: the cost of a rental. Finding a home that fits all these specifications but also fits your budget is paramount in importance. If you can accomplish all of these things at the same time, you'll likely end up with a place to live in year after year.

Location of a Rental

Renters who search for places to live usually confine their searches to a limited geographical area. While this is often the case, it is still useful to think in terms of location. First of all, two homes situated on opposite ends of the same town can have vastly different locations. One might be located right next to the freeway, while the other requires quite a commute just to get there. One may be right around the corner from your child's school and within its bus route while living in the other would require you to drive your son or daughter in every day.

Location is about more than just proximity, though. Even in a small town, there are certain areas where the homes are more desirable and the neighborhoods friendlier. And in larger cities, crime rates and all sorts of other factors are greatly affected by what part of town you live in as a renter. So while convenience is certainly important when choosing a home based on location, safety and security are equally important. In certain situation it is worthwhile to have to drive a little further to give your family a safer place to live. So think about your rental home's location in a wider context, and not just based on its proximity to your work.

The Home's Size and Condition

A growing family might prefer a large apartment or house on a bit of property, while a single renter does not usually need all that much space. The sizes of the homes you are considering have to be taken into account as a very important factor. If there are several of you in the household, chances are you'll want to try to find the biggest condo or townhouse you can afford for your monthly budget. But large homes that rent cheap usually have some fatal flaw for a lot of renters. One of the most common ones is their condition.

No one wants to live in a home that's falling apart from under their feet. If you could pick from a home with all brand new appliances and fixtures or one that needs serious updating and all other factors were equal, chances are you'd go for the more modern one. Renting a home with structural issues or one that's been neglected can lead to all sorts of problems. For one thing, you're renting and not buying, so fixing up the house is not your responsibility. Yet you do have to live there, so you don't want to let things go, especially if they present a safety issue. Some handymen and women opt to rent these fixer uppers and try to negotiate working on them as part of the rent payment. This is an excellent opportunity to save money if you find them to be livable enough from the outset. But make sure whatever home you choose does not present a safety or health hazard for your family.

Features of a Rental Home

Balancing out a peeling paint job on a large house in the country might be a great big front porch with a nice overhang, where your whole family can watch the sunset together. Or maybe there's a barn out back, behind the home you're thinking about renting, or lake access with a pontoon boat provided. Some rental homes come with features that set them apart from the others. If you're a fishing aficionado, living on a river known for great fishing would sure be a bonus. For those among us who are particularly safety minded, living in a gated community would be great. And renting a home with an extensive security system would make you feel much better at night when you go to sleep. Certain features on a rental home that set it apart from all the others might end up being the tie breaking factor if you have the choice narrowed down to a few places.

For a college student living off campus, if a loft is situated walking distance from all your classes and your job and it still fits your budget, you might want to snap it up as long as it's in good shape and the size works for you. A senior citizen renting a condominium would likely want to be near family and friends and maybe his church or local senior center. A young family with the opportunity to rent a house with a huge sandbox and swing set already provided out back, as well as a nice shed to store toys in will likely take advantage of that opportunity. The unique features of a rental home that set it apart from all the others sometimes end up as the basis for our rental decisions.

The Bottom Line

But the bottom line for almost all of us is price. It does not matter how beautiful a home is or how many acres it sits on if you can't afford the rent. Any discussion of the other factors always has to be done in the context of the price point the home hits. The price of a rental home is the first and last consideration for most of us, and for good reason. We all have budgetary restraints dictating the rental decisions we make.

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