Before you start your search, it's important to get organized and do your homework!
You’ll first need to determine what you can afford. Review your current expenses and if your budget can accommodate the cost of owning of a home.
It’s helpful to narrow down your search to the key neighborhoods you want to live in. Keep in mind, you may need to expand your search (based on what’s affordable for the area), but it helps to have a starting point. If you have children, check the available school options in your area.
Make sure you have a good idea of what you're looking for in a rental property and prioritize accordingly. There are many quality and affordable rentals—from apartments to single-family homes—so make sure you conduct a thorough search. You may not be able to get everything on your wish list, but knowing what your requirements are before you get started will make your search easier.
You should gather your personal records (Social Security card, Driver's License, etc.) as well as proof of income (pay stubs, W2s, bank statements, etc.). Have a roommate or co-signer on the lease? Their information will be required, too. Some landlords may require a credit check and/or conduct a background check. So it's a good idea to have references available and, if you have a record of on-time payment history with a previous rental, be sure to have that handy.
Know your legal rights when renting. This can vary from one town to the next, so always check your city's regulations for specific details.
Now that you know what you can afford, what you're looking for and what you'll need, it's time to start your search!