First of all, because someone will drop it in the comments: yes, you could buy property.
If you are planning to stay in one location for a long time, have built the funds, the tax and credit history, have done your research, and can take on the responsibility, renting may be costing more than it makes you. That’s a conversation for another post.
I move every 5-6 months, have no interest in managing a property (yet), and for MY financial/life plan renting has made more sense for the last few years.
And with club closures and work uncertainty, many folks in the industry are not sitting on the funds/with the work safety to buy right now.
So, let’s talk rentals!
Specifically, how to find a rental in your budget, and up your chances through the application process.
1 - Figure out your price point:
There will be options out there at MANY price points – and while you may not be ready to buy yet, you should be getting ready to pay taxes, to invest, and to keep moving forward financially!
If you’re earning fast cash for the first time, it may be tempting to go for a big beautiful dream home…and spend the next few years making your landlord financially secure while you struggle to cover your bills. That’s what you DON’T want.
What you DO want is to identify how much you’re making (on average) per month, how much your non-home bills and expenses are (on average) per month, and how much you should spend on rent to stay on top of your long-term financial goals!
By the way, this is a great time to think outside the box: maybe you get a few (responsible, financially stable) roommates. Maybe you check out student housing, even though it’s decidedly less cool than that off-campus, way more expensive apartment. Maybe you look for an intentional community or a furnished unit – there are lots of options out there, but many of them take a little extra searching up front!
2 - Start looking EARLY
When you’re under pressure, you will often make decisions that serve you short-term…but not so much long-term.
When you’re looking for housing, give yourself at least a few months to check out properties, connect with property owners, and learn about your local options.
If you’re moving into a new city and don’t have the resources to check out the city beforehand, you can also use short-term rental options like AirBnB to stay for a few weeks while you sort out your housing situation – it may be a little more upfront, but could save you thousands while you’re in a lease – think about it this way: if you go for a $1,250 lease when you could have found a place for $900, over just one year you’ll pay $4,200 more for that unit!
For bigger cities with even bigger cost differences, those numbers can grow fast.
Tip: don’t think about it as “just $4,200 more, I can make that at the club” – think of it as “$4,200 at a 10% rate of return over 10 years could be $10,893.72 in my pocket – is this rental really worth that?”
3 - Come Prepared -
As a renter, you will most likely need to show that:
- Your income is at least 2-3x more than your rent.
- You have employment.
- You have an average or above average credit history (at a minimum, no foreclosures, bankruptcy, or debts owed to past property owners).
- You have positive referrals from prior rentals.
To prepare for applications, make sure you’re keeping track of your prior contact points for rentals, you are keeping track of your finances (for proof of income I usually show bank statements for the past year with all the personal information redacted-aka crossed out), and that you’re ready for the inevitable questions:
I am personally super up front with owners, because I am inevitably going to have late nights, will probably want to install a pole, and will be upgrading the security system of the unit –all things they may want to know.
I also don’t feel like hiding my work as if it’s shameful or wrong – as far as I’m concerned, it’s a steady 6-figure income, it’s legal, and my references will all tell you the same thing: I pay on time, I’m a quiet renter, and by the time I leave, your place will be nicer than when I walked in.
That said: that wasn’t always the case. If you don’t want to disclose what you do day-to-day, here are some tips:
- Have a reasonable backstory. “Cocktail waitress at a local bar” is a safe bet.
- Have proof of income. Most clubs will write you up a letter that confirms you work there as an independent contractor – ask them to keep it vague or to say you’re a waitress.
- Make sure your money looks right! Most owners just want to be sure they’ll get paid on time. The messier your money is, the more questions they’ll have.
- SCRUB YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA: it’s 2020 – with your name and phone number, finding social media pages is easier than ever! (Even if they’re just-for-work pages that you think are hidden). For the weeks you’re property hunting, you may want to make those pages private.
4 - It’s a Two-Way Street
I know. You’re looking for a place, and you want it ASAP.
But you’re not the only one on audition here—the person you’re renting from should also fit your needs and wants!
While it can feel nerve wrecking to look for housing, remember that this will be your home long-term. Don’t be afraid to ask about the property, the maintenance, the amenities, and hell- even the water-pressure.
You’ll learn about the property, but also about the demeanor of the owner. Do they seem respectful? Are they self-aware? Do they seem overly controlling? Did they ask inappropriate questions when showing the property?
It can be daunting to walk away from a property that seems like it could work, but you shouldn’t have to tolerate your living space. You should get to enjoy living in it – especially if you’re the one paying out of pocket to be there.
Not every situation will be perfect, but remember: you can always update or rearrange a place – you can’t update or improve the personality or behavior of roommates/property owners.
5 - Start Getting Ready Now! (Not Later)
Especially if you or your family have ever dealt with housing insecurity, searching for housing can be stressful or bring up not-so-pleasant memories.
But avoiding it can often leave you with fewer options and more stress! If you’re in a mid/long-term rental situation now, start planning TODAY for your future by organizing your finances, paying your current rent regularly, saving up for a deposit/first month, and (even if it's not financially possible to save up) using your phone/computer to get a financial picture of the area - so you know what options may be available when you get closer to a move.
Do you have any stories of dealing with property management or owners? What tips have worked for you when it comes to renting? Comment below!