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15 things to remember when renting an apartment

When it comes to locating an apartment in the Lexington area of Kentucky, there are many factors that one must take into account in order to find the best community to call home.  

Below are the top 15 questions most renters ask themselves when searching for an apartment.

1. How much rent can I afford per month?

Before you start your apartment search, you need to know your budget. This is not what you feel you can afford but what you can really afford. Think like you are a leasing company and follow the same rules they follow. Use the 30% rule. For example, if you make $4,000 a month, then ($4,000/30% = $1,200) means you should safely be able to afford an apartment with a monthly rent of $1,200. Most landlords require their tenants to make at least x3 their monthly rent, so just follow the 30% rule and you should be good to go! Try the rent calculator for yourself.

2.  What is the cost of living in Lexington?

The cost of living in Lexington is, on average, 74.04% lower than in New York. So if you are seeking to save money, you came to the right place! Remember, there will be other costs associated with your new apartment such as application fees, security deposits and if you have pets, there most-likely there will be a pet deposit and of course the cost of moving itself.

Don't forget, you could have deposits with utility companies as well you have to take into account. Try your best to plan ahead to start saving, but also shop around! Don’t rush into the first apartment you find, you may find one that offers more amenities and fits more within your budget. 

3. What are some long-term costs in apartment living in Lexington?

After you get all moved in and unpacked, there will be more expenses besides the monthly rent you need to be aware of. Just like in any apartment or home being rented in America, you can expect to pay:

  • Electricity 
  • Gas
  • Internet/Cable
  • Water, sewer, and trash
  • Parking
  • Renters Insurance

Some apartments offer utilities included in the rent but always budget with these expenses in mind. It’s better to over budget than to under budget.

Depending on the time of year, your utilities can vary drastically. One solution you can ask the utility companies such as gas and electric is to see if they offer balance billing. The method behind this is to take the past 12 months' bills for that location and divide it by 12 so you have equal payments each month no matter how much or little you use. At the end of the year, you will get the credit or a bill for the difference if there is any, but in most cases, it’s very close.

4. Will I need a co-signer to rent an apartment?

As a first time renter, you might have to provide a cosigner to guarantee your apartment lease. A co-signer is basically someone who goes on the application with you and agrees to pay the rent if you cannot make the payments.  

Remember all that the landlord wants is a tenant who will consistently pay their rent without many issues. Having a co-signer normally acts as another way to get the rent if you were not able to pay it. Most of the time, people think of a co-signer is a relative such as a mom or a dad, but a roommate or a spouse can also be considered as a co-signer.  

Pros of a co-signer:
  • Eligible for some higher-end rentals
  • Broader spectrum to choose from when searching
  • They can help you qualify by using their income as well such as parents
  • If you have a lack of credit a co-signer can help 

Cons of a co-signer:

  • You become responsible to someone else if you default
  • They have access to your apartment

5. How long of a lease should I sign?

This is the million-dollar question. Do you have an idea of how long you might need to stay? Typically, the longer you stay the cheaper it in some cases. Apartments normally want people to stay for at least 1 year but some offer higher rates for lower terms such as a 6-month lease term. Certain apartments may offer a month-to-month agreement as well, but this is usually offered after a 12-month term in completed. 

Remember, when reviewing your new apartment lease, you want to make sure you understand everything on the lease and if you don’t, you need to ask for clarification as the leasing agent should help you understand everything on there.

6. What area in Lexington should I live in?

Lexington has some wet winters so location is key when living in this part of Kentucky. People want to be close to things that matter to them the most such as work, the stores, freeways, etc. Also if you don’t have a car, then you need a place that is close to public transportation systems such as the bus system and make sure companies such as UBER or LYFT are in your area.

When you find an apartment in the area of Lexington you like, you might want to drive around the area to see what is all there and if you can see driving in that area for the next year or two as you move to your new local community.

What to look for in the neighborhood:

  • Public transportation/bike route
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Hospitals
  • Police/Fire stations
  • Schools 
  • Parks
  • Major highways

7. What are the best apartment amenities?

The best thing to do is to make a list of amenities you can't live without in your apartment. Do you need a pet park, an on-site workout area, or an elevator instead of stairs? This will help you cross off apartments that don't meet your personal requirements and help you narrow down your search. Though usually places with a long list of amenities will cost you more per month, so sometimes you may have to sacrifice luxury for affordability.

Popular amenities to search for:

  • Gym
  • Pool
  • Mailroom
  • Laundry
  • Parking Garage
  • Trash/Recycling
  • A/C Unit
  • Central Air
  • Elevator
  • Secure/gated entrance


Apartments in Lexington Ky

8. Can you bring your pet to your new apartment?

Do you have a dog or cat? If that is the case, you will simply have to search for your apartment in the Lexington area based on pet policies. Not all apartment communities are the same. Some allow large dogs and some don't. It's important for you to call in advance or look on their website to find out their policy on pets. Most apartments require an additional monthly deposit for pets and some have breed restrictions based on location.

9. Pros and Cons of Living with a Roommate 

When it comes to deciding on a roommate, there are a few things you need to keep in mind, here are some of the pros of having a roommate:

  1. A bigger apartment - instead of having a 1 bedroom, you can get a 2 bedroom that usually has a larger open floor plan
  2. Sharing the bills - Normally with a roommate, you can split the bills right down the middle saving close to 50% a month. Some roommates’ divvy up the rent by figuring out the room square footage and splitting up the bills accordingly.
  3. Having someone to hang out with - If you're not comfortable with living alone, this could be a great benefit, especially if you’re new to the city.

Some of the cons of living with a roommate:

  1. Sacrificing personal space - The main difference here is you don't have the whole apartment to yourself. Your personal space just got a lot smaller when you have a roommate. Sharing a space with someone also often means sharing their baggage (literally and figuratively). It’s important to find a roommate that respects you and your space.
  2. You can decorate your apartment anyway you want - By living alone, you don't have to see what anyone else thinks about your new layout and you are free to set it up as you wish. This could be adding a reading nook, mediation corner, workout area, or anything your heart desires.
  3. You pay all the bills - Living alone means you are the one who will be paying all of the bills yourself. This is a key issue people take into account when deciding on a roommate or not. But if you are financially able to take care of yourself, this is what many people prefer and is a great step towards independence. 

10. Do I need a rental resume?

Just like having a CV when doing a job search, you need to have a renter's resume. This would typically include all of the information to make you stand out from other applications. You would also be best served to share all the dates of the last 2-3 years of where you lived and the contact info for any prior landlords.

If you’re a first-time renter and are not applicable for a rental resume don’t worry! Many applications ask for previous residencies directly on the application. And while a rental resume is a great way to make you stand out from the competition, it’s usually not a requirement. 


11. Do I need to worry about my credit when applying for an apartment?

Many landlords and property managers look at credit and require it on your rental application. If you’re a first-time renter, this is where having a co-signer will help you. Though credit is not a defining factor in rental applications, most applicants that are accepted have good credit. Most apartments will be transparent in the credit requirements to apply. If you don’t see a number listed, don’t be afraid to ask the property manager! They want to fill the apartment and they are there to answer your questions. 


12. Do I need to provide pay stubs for my rental application?

Most rental applications require the last two paystubs from your employer to prove that you are able to afford to pay their rent. This gives them peace of mind that you are qualified to become one of their tenants. If you are moving to the city or are in-between jobs, it might be a good idea to have a co-signer. Remember, each property has it's own requirements when it comes to income verification so please check with the property as to what is required.


13. Should I live on the first floor or the top floor of an apartment?

There are a few things to consider when looking at where the apartment is located in the building's floor plan. Do you need to be close to an elevator? Will your couch be able to fit through the doorway? But the bigger question is what is the difference living on the first floor versus the top floor?

First Floor:

  • It’s close to the front door/garage.
  • There are fewer stairs to climb.
  • There might be more noise from upstairs neighbors.
  • There’s usually more street noise.

Top Floor:

  • There are more stairs to climb.
  • I would get a better view.
  • I could end up dealing with roof noise/leaks.
  • There should be less neighbor noise.

14. Try to talk to the current residents of the apartment building! 

On your tour of the apartment, if the current apartment renters are not on-site, try to talk to another tenant if you see one. You can ask them questions about the landlord, the other neighbors (some people like to throw parties or have to work 3rd shifts), and just in general how they’ve liked living there. You might be surprised by what people may have experienced! 


15. What do I look for when touring an apartment?

Always schedule an in-person tour of the apartment you’re looking to rent. If you’re not in the city, try to at least do a virtual tour. This is the place you’re going to be living. 

Usually, when people tour an apartment, they do it to get a feel for living there. Try to imagine you cooking Sunday brunch, or lounging on the couch after a long day of work. There are some things that you should look out for, even if the apartment is newly renovated:


  1. Water Damage - This is important whether the apartment is on the top or the bottom floor. The last thing you want when you move in is a leak.
  2. Kitchen Appliances - Check the cleanliness of the fridge and oven. Ask if they have been updated recently.
  3. Carpet Cleanliness – If the apartment has carpet, check for stains and ask when it was last cleaned.
  4. Overall Quality of the Apartment – check for holes in the walls, chipped paint, scratches, and dents.
  5. Doors and Locks – It’s important that your apartment door as two locks: a deadbolt and the regular door lock. The deadbolt is very important to have since a regular door lock can be easily unlocked with a credit card.
  6. Neighborhood noise – Try to go on a weekend or end of a workday. Listen for noisy dogs, neighbors, construction, or anything else that might make this an uncomfortable place to live.
  7. Laundry Room – hopefully, the building has laundry services. Check the quality of the machines and the price (most usually take quarters but some buildings have reloadable cards).
  8. Parking Garage – If the building has a parking garage, check to make sure that only residents can enter. If you have street parking, ask if you may need a parking permit from the city.

Take pictures of everything! This is a good way to go back and remind yourself if you’re shopping around for apartments, but it’s also good to take pictures of how the apartment looked like before you move in to dispute any issues that may happen if you have to move out.