The renting market in the United States is becoming a more treacherous place with every passing year. I’m sure that’s not what soon-to-be renters want to hear, but it is the unfortunate truth.
Prices have been steadily climbing for over a decade now and there are certain areas where it’s much more difficult to find a place that’s both comfortable and affordable. Among the top ones, you have the places that you would expect.
New York, L.A, San Francisco and rounding out the top 10, we have the city that’s probably most relevant to you if you’re reading this: Miami. South Florida in general is not a cheap spot, but Miami in particular is a tough one.
Now that said, it’s not renting in South Florida is not impossible. You do of course need to have a strong and reliable income, but being in the know and having a smarter approach to the rental process goes a long way too.
Let’s take a look at some important things to remember, and for the sake of explaining things, we will specifically discuss Miami here:
Finding a Place
The first thing you need to do is go through every available property and try to find one that works for you. Miami is a big place, so this is going to take a long, long time if you want to make the right decision, but it will be worth it.
You have numerous different neighbourhoods to consider, and a lot of the decision will have to come down to your budget. South Beach is the most desirable spot, it’s safe, urban, the beaches are in walking distance and there’s good housing stock.
In South Beach you have a huge range of people from college students looking to party all the way up to retired folk just looking to relax. The prices range from $2,100 to almost $8,000 so it’s pretty steep.
If that’s too expensive, you could also go for North Beach which doesn’t have quite as vibrant of a populace but the average price is $2,000, which is on par with the lower end of the scale in South Beach.
In Downtown Miami, you have similar prices to North Beach, but a different vibe. This is where you’ll find skyscrapers, rising businesses and where a lot of the young professionals flock too. Then heading North to Wynwood and Edgewater and you’ll find a lot of the artists.
It’s important that you think seriously about your priorities. Is having ease of access to the beach really as important as you think it is, or can you sacrifice that in favour of a smaller price? How much space do you really need?
I’m not suggesting that you should settle for a studio, but if you think an apartment looks small in the pictures, you might feel differently if you visit it. I would also say that you should do this with the help of a realtor.
They can help you narrow down some options that will suit you and they can also help with a lot of the paperwork involved. Speaking of which:
Have All Your Documents in Order
While the realtor will cover things like contracts and leases, there are certain things that your specific landlord might want, which you should make sure that you have prepared ahead of time so that you won’t be left hanging when they request them.
You will need a photo ID for sure, preferably one that’s as official as possible such as your passport. If you are not a U.S citizen, you’ll definitely need your Visa or your Green Card, whatever it is you’ve got that’s securing your residence in the country.
Your landlord will likely want to have proof that you’re actually earning for confidence that you won’t have any issues paying your rent going forward. I would have your three most recent pay stubs for this.
And on top of that you should probably bring along a credit report. A low credit score won’t do you any favours when trying to rent, so if yours is low at the moment then you should work on that while you’re searching.
Learn About Deposits and Fees
In Miami, for an unfurnished condo you will probably be asked for three months credit up front, and it will likely be four months for one that’s furnished. It’s also possible that you’ll be asked for a common areas deposit too.
These are a priority for some landlords to protect against damage to common areas and amenities and they are regular requirements in Miami so be prepared for that. In most condos in Miami, it will be the landlord who pays the condominium association dues.
These dues will usually cover water, utilities, trash removal and sewage, but that doesn’t mean that there will be no other extra fees that might not be talked about in the initial viewing or early stages of inquiry.
Consider things like parking spaces and fobs. There’s also the fact that issues such as bed bugs are very common in Miami and your landlord may ask for a fee to cover the eventuality of pest control.
You won’t get extra fees like this everywhere, but they are possibilities and so you should always either factor in extra cash into your budget for that, or make a point of asking about extra fees up front.
So there are a lot of things you need to remember, but just because of how popular and how expensive the properties in South Florida are, your primary goal should be trying to minimize your rent.
Even if you are earning an awful lot of money, average rent is high, it’s getting higher and deposits and extra fees to rack up, so it’s worth spending a lot of time searching for an affordable place.
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