Figure out what you really need

Whether you are making a big cross-country move or you are just looking for a new neighbourhood,
there are certain questions you need to ask yourself before you start searching for a rental home. Writing down your answers will help keep your search on track.

Setting a Realistic Rental Budget

Before you start a serious search for places to live, it is smart to figure out how much rent you can really afford. Setting a realistic rental budget now can save you disappointment later by preventing you from falling for the “perfect” place that costs more than you should spend.

Paying 30 percent of your income on rent used to be the basic guideline but that may be misleading. Is that income “gross” or “net” (before or after taxes)? Does the rent include utilities? And if you have loans, a car payment, or credit card bills to pay, 30 percent just might not be possible.

What is your ideal neighbourhood?

Do you have to have a place that is near the newest shopping centre, shops and restaurants or are you looking for a quieter, family friendly area? Remember that you are not only renting the home, but you are also renting a home in a particular locale. Make sure that you are happy with the area before you search.

What kind of building do you want?

When you think about your ideal building do you envision a terrace with a garden or do you want the type of community and amenities that a HDB estate offers? If you prefer to have an active healthy lifestyle then perhaps a unit in a condominium with a swimming pool and tennis court would suit you best.

How big a place do you need?

Think about what kind of space you need and can afford in a home. If it is just you, are you comfortable with a studio or do you need extra space for a home office or guest room? If you have a roommate, a spouse or a family, think about the amount of space you will need for everyone. And remember: Square footage equals money.

What is the parking situation?

If you have a car, make sure that you know what kind of parking will be available, whether it is off street, a designated space or a basement carpark. It also would be good to find out where your guests can park if they drive to come visit.

Do they allow pets?

In tight rental markets it is not uncommon to have pet restrictions on rental homes. If you have a pet, be sure to ask if the landlord allows pets, what type of deposit you will need to pay or if there is a pet rent. Some landlords may also have breed restrictions, so be sure to ask about that.

What amenities do you want?

Think about what amenities you would like in a rental home, from something simple like washing machine or a dishwasher to something extravagant like a concierge, gym or pool.

What aesthetics do you want to avoid?

Is there a décor you would not be able to stand? Wall-to-wall carpet, outdated appliances or faux granite countertops? Think about what you will and won’t compromise on.

What kind of natural light do you prefer?

If the bedroom window faces east, you will be greeted by bright-and-early sunshine. Also, think about your particular climate and what kind of lighting best suits your needs. Though it may seem like a small detail, it is good consider it before you move in and have a really hot room in an afternoon or a cold room in the morning, depending on climate and orientation.

What kind of outdoor space do you want?

In a lot of cities, outdoor space can be hard to come by, but if it is available, what type of outdoor space would you want? Do you need a big yard for your family or pet, or do you prefer a paved space for a couple of plants and a patio chair?