Moving into your first apartment is a huge step into independence and a new adult life.

Whether you’re a college student or a newlywed, a first apartment is a big deal.

It’s a major financial responsibility and can be overwhelming for some.

After all, it’s easy to find first apartment horror stories. But it can be a good experience if you follow these financial tips.

Remember the 30% Rule

When you’re looking for an apartment, the number one rule is to not overextend yourself. Figure what your monthly income is and once you have that number, create a list of all your current financial obligations like credit card payments and student loan payments.

Then you’ll need to account for monthly expenses like food, gas, and insurance. Once you’ve listed everything out, what you have left — minus a small buffer — is the amount you have to spend on an apartment. This number should never exceed 30%, or a little less than a third, of your income.

This will prevent you from overextending and while it might seem like you can pay more, landlords won’t go much higher than this when determining your eligibility.

Know What You Have To Pay For

It’s important to have an idea of everything you’re responsible for paying for. A lot of fees can come with an apartment and first-time hunters might not know what is what. The utilities you may or may not be asked to pay for are gas, electric, and water.

You may also have to cover garbage fees, cable fees, pest control fees, parking fees, storage fees, and more. Many things will often be included in your rent price. Make sure you know exactly what these things are and how much the things you have to pay for will cost.

Cost estimates vary by state but you can probably find decent calculators online to help you, just add it to the other 5.8 billion Google searches made every day. By estimating this beforehand and knowing how much your rent and utilities will be all together, you’ll be able to properly compare the prices of apartments and find the most affordable one.

Look Carefully

When trying to save money on an apartment, it all starts with location, location, location. City centers and other hotspots will generally be more expensive whereas the outskirts of cities, suburbs, and other more rural areas may be cheaper.

It’s easy to think you’ll find your perfect apartment in your preferred location but you have to be realistic. A first apartment won’t likely have everything you could want. However, it can still be your own. Websites can be very helpful but can also be very deceitful.

Remember to use common sense and know that if it seems too good to be true it usually is. If you find an apartment that’s significantly below the common price for apartments in that area, it might be a scam and you can save your money by steering clear of it.

Know the Limits

About $394 billion was spent on home improvement in the U.S. in 2018. However, it is unlikely you’ll be able to make any drastic changes to your apartment. If you want the security deposit back when you move out, then read over your lease very carefully and know what you can and cannot change. Not only will you avoid buying supplies you can’t use but you’ll be able to get your deposit back without a problem.

By law, home sellers must reveal to buyers any issues they’re aware of that may have an impact on the value or livability of a property, at least in California. Landlords have no such obligations when you rent from them. Look out for any potential issues with plumbing, electrical, water damage, insects, and mold.

All of these red flags show a property is not properly taken care of and may end up being your responsibility to get fixed if you’re not careful or things worsen during your time there. Take note of issues right away and send them in an email to your landlord. If they try to take money out of your security deposit for any of these damages, you’ll have proof that they were not your fault and that you did your duty in notifying your landlord.

Renting and moving into your first apartment a huge step in a new chapter of your life. Saving money will not only help you live well but can help you get into that dream apartment somewhere down the line.