Are you ready for your own crib? Pad? Abode? (I am not sure what the word for “home” is these days.) When it’s time to leave the nest, you will need to step up to the plate and take charge of the process. How EXACTLY do you do that, you ask?

Let me give you a few suggestions:

1. Look for what is available in your area and make a list of things that are important to you. I have created a checklist you can download into Evernote that includes many of the standard features found in most apartments.
2. Narrow down your search online before making appointments. Try to limit your driving time by ranking the apartments and visit only the top 5–8.
3. Remember that you will be competing against others for the apartment. Be respectful, dress appropriately, and show up for your appointment on time. Landlords will be looking for a tenant who will take good care of their investment.
4. Make sure you have enough money in your bank account for your security deposit, first month’s rent, and other fees. Landlords may also require you submit a deposit to take the apartment off the rental market.
5. Read the lease before you sign it. You can CLICK HERE for a sample of a standard lease.
6. Ask your landlord for a quick tutorial on the utilities and special features of the apartment. Gather names and contact information of resources, if appropriate.
7. Don’t forget to get a copy of your keys and make sure you locate the mailbox.
8. File your lease and a copy of your security and fee checks in a special place. Make sure it is easy to retrieve if you need it.
9. Move in! Start with the fundamentals: Clothes, toiletries, bed/linens, food, kitchenware, table, couch. Don’t be afraid to look for value in used furniture. If your furniture is valuable, you might want to consider purchasing Rental Insurance from your local insurance agent to protect your assets from unexpected damages (and injuries).
10. Start saving for next month’s rent. Your housing expense may take up a major portion of your monthly paycheck. Divide the amount by 20 (4 weeks x 5 days) to determine roughly how hard you need to be working to afford your sweet crib.

Don’t forget to have a house-warming party and invite your besties over for a pot-luck dinner party!