So you’re on the lookout for a rental house. That’s great! But if you’re new to the house hunt, you might not know exactly what to look for in a rental home. That

What maintenance is required

Houses often require more maintenance than apartments. This is especially true due to the outdoor space we discussed earlier––someone will have to mow the lawn and trim the bushes. Additionally, more rooms means more things to repair, like broken door knobs, frozen pipes, and wacky toilets. Ensure that you understand how maintenance will be divided between yourself and your landlord. That way, you can be certain of the work you’re taking on, and you’ll be prepared to handle it.

The cost of utilities / How many zones

Utilities can be considerably more expensive in a house than in an apartment. You want to be aware of how much energy it will take to heat and cool your house and what it will cost you, and you’ll want to talk about that with your landlord. You’ll also want to understand if your house is cooled and heated centrally or by zones, and where the zones are.

Near a school / school district / Busing

A big benefit of living in the suburbs is that the public schools generally have access to a wide range of resources. That means you’ll want to understand exactly which school district your rental house in––this isn’t always as obvious as it might seem! You’ll also want to make sure that you know how near you are to the school your children will attend. If you don’t want your kids to walk and you don’t want to drive, you’ll also want to check out whether your school district will provide busing from your house to the school.

child in yard of rental house

Close to town

Where is the house in relation to the town’s commercial center? Towns aren’t normally as walkable as cities, so it can be easy to be far away from the action. If you want to be within walking distance of restaurants and shops, this is something you should consider. This is also something to be mindful of if you have kids––they can meet friends more easily or go out to eat themselves if you’re nearer to the town center, without necessarily needing you to drive them. 

Close to mass transit

If you have a job in the nearest city, you might want to consider how close your rental house is to public transportation. It might be easier to take the train in than a car, especially if you’re within walking distance. If you’re not close, then obviously you will want to make sure that you have a car or some other ride into the city.

Outdoor space

This is one of the biggest differences between rental houses and rental apartments. With a house, you will almost always have access to outdoor space. You’ll want to check out the yard and note how large it is and what kinds of plants and animals it contains. A good yard can keep a kid or a pet busy for hours, and a patio can be a great place to grill. These are all things you probably wouldn’t be looking at if you were apartment hunting, so you want to remember to consider them.

Attic, basement, and garage

Unlike a rental apartment, a rental house will probably have an attic, a basement, and/or a garage. Don’t forget to check these out and make sure they’re up to snuff. Also, think about what you might use them for. Basements and attics in particular can often serve as play areas, offices, or storage. Of course, it’s always nice to have a garage to keep your car and your tools safe as well.

Hopefully, this list will help you understand how searching for a rental house can be different from a rental apartment. Now you’ll be able to go into your search as a more informed renter. Best of luck!

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