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What fees are involved with moving and leasing?

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Moving homes and signing a new lease is complex. Even if you’ve done it a dozen times, you might forget some of the details and run into trouble. In this post, we’ll identify some of the hidden fees and typical mistakes of moving – and show you how to avoid them. With these tips, you’ll save money and keep the transition smooth.

Part 1: Hidden fees & how to avoid them

Security deposit

A security deposit is a (usually, required) payment that a new tenant gives to their landlord or property management company as part of the advanced payments. It’s essentially insurance — or a “good faith deposit” — for future payments and any damages. If you leave the apartment the way you found it, you’ll get this amount refunded to you, sometimes with interest. The laws around security deposits vary from state to state, but they are generally one or two months’ worth of rent.

*How to avoid paying security deposits*

At Common, you can avoid this extremely costly up-front fee. Moving into our Chicago or Washington, DC homes only require a small move-in fee with no security deposit. If you’re considering our other homes across New York, LA, San Francisco, and Seattle, you don’t have to worry about paying a security deposit before you sign your lease.

Through HelloRented and Obligo, our homes are “deposit-free,” meaning that you can pay a monthly fee — as low as $10 a month — instead of swallowing the huge up-front cost. The applicant can simply submit a billing pre-authorization through these services and only pays if there’s an actual claim.

First and last month’s rent

When signing your lease, expect to pay the first month’s rent, and possibly the last month’s as well. Your lease has started, so you’re just paying your monthly rent. If you owe both months, think of it as you’ve taken care of ⅙ of your annual rent, meaning you only have to pay for the remaining 10 months as they are due!

*How to avoid paying more than first month’s rent up-front*

At Common, you only pay up-front for the first month of rent. No last month’s rent, plus you get a little discount on your second month’s rent (keep reading for “application fees”).

Broker fees

If you used a broker to get your apartment, the broker’s fee is now due. Make sure you know from the start of your relationship how much a broker will charge, which is most commonly an amount equal to 10% of a year’s rent or one month’s rent but may vary.

*How to avoid paying broker fees*

There are no broker fees involved at Common!

Application fees

When signing a new lease, there’s usually an application fee involved. This fee is most often applied to run a background check and credit check authorization. The landlord or property management company needs to verify your credit rating, employment, rental history, and more.

In New York, this fee averages between $60 and $150 per person for a rental apartment. Every person on the lease (aka each of your roommates) needs to pay this fee.

*How to avoid paying ridiculous high application fees*

At Common, the initial fee is $300. This puts your room on hold and covers your credit and background checks (only $45). The rest counts toward your second month’s rent, so you essentially get it right back! No broker fees, no security deposit.

Renter’s insurance

Renter’s insurance is recommended for all tenants to protect their personal belongings in case of fire, theft, power surges, water damage, vandalism, damage, or any other events out of your control within your home. Renter’s insurance costs around $10 to $15 a month.

If any of these unfortunate instances occur, your renter’s insurance policy allows you to receive reimbursement for the replacement cost of any affected property (the limit varies) and covers living expenses (hotel, food) if you have to evacuate after an incident. Not to mention, there is also liability coverage for property damages and medical bills caused by negligence. That means you don’t have to pay the costs of your neighbor’s stitches if your dog gets loose or for repairs if you overflow your neighbor’s apartment.

*How to find affordable renter’s insurance*

At Common, you can easily get renter’s insurance from Lemonade, which is one of the many brands we partner with for exclusive discounts for our members. You can get covered for as low as $5 a month.

Moving costs

Getting all your stuff from your current home to your new place will cost anything from a couple of hundred bucks to a nice dinner, whether you hire a professional moving company, rent a U-Haul truck, or just ask some friends for help.

*How to avoid paying moving costs*

You won’t have to pay any moving costs at Common. Our fully furnished, beautifully designed homes mean you won’t have to worry about furniture or purchasing appliances. Simply pack your personal belongings and move in in just 30 minutes.

Miscellaneous costs

There are also a few other hidden costs that you should keep in mind.

If you have a pet, for example, you may have to pay a pet deposit. Depending on the city and neighborhood, it could cost between $100 to $500 per pet, which is used to help the landlord pay for any damages that your pet may cause. Of course, it’s refundable if there aren’t any such problems!

Pet deposit at Common

Pets are accepted only at Common Baltic’s traditional suites and in our Seattle studios. For New York, there is a refundable $500 pet deposit, and in Seattle, there is a $250 pet deposit and $50/month additional pet rent.

Free high-speed Wifi at Common

Another costly detail in moving is setting up WiFi in your new home. Most installations come free with the purchase of a plan, so be prepared to pay around $50 to $100 per month for WiFi. At Common, we provide free high-speed WiFi in all of our homes. It’s installed, and ready to connect from the day you move in.

Furnished spaces at Common

Let’s not forget that making your new place feel like home will be another burden on your wallet. Luckily, we know some places where you can buy cheap, high-quality furniture. If you’re not one to invest in high-quality furnishings, however, consider Common. Our fully furnished, beautifully designed coliving homes ensure that your private bedroom, kitchen, and entire home come with the best furniture and brand new appliances.

Part 2: Extra tips for a streamlined move

Moving Tip #1: Be tactical about your needs.

If you spend a lot of time looking at various apartments online, and not a lot of time reflecting on what you need out of an apartment, you could run into trouble. Most likely, you’ll end up shipping boxes that will perpetually be unopened, buying a lot of duplicates, and landing apartments that meet only some of your necessities.

Moving Tip #2: Consider the timing of the move.

Fall and summer are generally the most popular seasons for people to move, which means you won’t get the best deals when it comes to renting, moving services, expenses etc. Whereas in other seasons, you can usually negotiate rents down or work outside of brokers to avoid the exorbitant fee. If staying under budget is a priority, you may want to think about moving in an off-peak time, even though the weather may not be in your favor.

Moving Tip #3: Don’t ignore the elements.

Speaking of weather, don’t ignore the elements that will add frustration and moving costs to your move. New York, for instance, is not a car-friendly city. The cost of a taxi or car service between apartments — to and from IKEA, across town, and Trader Joe’s — will stack up. An Uber ride in New York starts at $8 without distance and traffic. If your move ends up requiring 10 or 20 Uber rides, you’ll be looking at a whole lot of additional transportation costs.

Moving Tip #4: Choose a better living solution.

Like we mentioned above, there’s actually a fairly easy solution for all of these issues: move into a home that is already furnished and easy to move into. With Common, you have your own private, furnished bedroom within a suite similarly furnished to your needs. The homes also come with pots and pans, household essentials like toilet paper and paper towels, free laundry, utilities and WiFi included, and a whole lot more. 

Part 3: Typical mistakes

As a result of the increasing opportunities in major cities, more people are leaving their small towns for denser urban centers. No matter the reason for the relocation, whether it’s a job or a relationship, avoid these small mistakes that most people get wrong about relocating. Just being aware of these mistakes will save you money, time, and headaches.

Mistake #1: Not prioritizing where you live

We all know how high rents are in major cities, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice everything about your place just to save money. Finding a good place to live is essential to your health and happiness in your new city. Though you may have to start in a small apartment, make sure to look into public transportation so your commute is reasonable or to prioritize having laundry in the building. The wrong move is to just choose the cheapest place you can find.

Mistake #2: Not researching the neighborhood enough

Realize that the neighborhood you live in (and the people you surround yourself with) is just as important as the actual place. Start looking early into the different parts of town. Living downtown might be fun, but it can also get a little too crowded with tourists and too loud at night. If you can, plan to walk around the different areas to get a sense of what would be good for you and work with your lifestyle. For instance, is there a grocery store nearby? Is public transportation convenient? Can you commute downtown easily? Have a few good reasons to live in that specific neighborhood.

Mistake #3: Not considering all the moving costs

If all our financial tips above weren’t enough, let us remind you again: moving is expensive, and you need to plan for those costs. In addition to finding a place to live, you also have to figure out logistics, plan the dates of move, and schedule movers. There’s a lot of money and fees that go into uprooting your life and most people realise this too late. Get ahead, start saving as early as you can, and plan your finances months ahead of your first month’s rent.

Mistake #4: Not being open

Lots of people who move to major cities don’t take the time to really explore the town. They immediately avoid tourist traps, instead of seeing them as opportunities to experience something new and exciting. To become a true urban local, you have to get lost on your commute at least once, see the sights before you get sick of them, and only then can you become a regular at the same grocery store and coffee shop. Get started with our beginner’s guide to New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Mistake #5: Not knowing about Common

Relocating has never been easier. With Common, you can move to all major U.S. cities into a fully furnished, beautiful home without paying a ridiculous broker fee and other unnecessary relocation costs. Live at Common and avoid all possible mistakes. Experience coliving in New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, and expect convenience, comfort, and community in your home.

Mistake #7: Neglecting insurance

Rental and/or homeowners insurance isn’t the only insurance you should be concerned with as you take this next step. Many moving companies offer insurance as part of their package, to cover goods that are damaged, lost, or destroyed. You can generally opt in for full value protection, or limited protection based on your preferences and how much worth you assign to your things. Some coverage options require a full inventory of your possessions, while others take a more speculative approach. Choose the insurance that meets your needs, and buy enough so it’s one less thing to worry about when transporting your valuables.

Mistake #8: Thinking you can move on your own

There’s no shame in asking for help. It’s close to impossible to move on your own, especially if you’re shipping furniture, trying to coordinate with a roommate, and quickly packing and unpacking your belongings. Thinking you can move on your own is an easy way to set yourself up for failure. Ask a friend to join you on your move, tap a family member for help, or considering hiring some help for small activities like furniture building. Best yet, think about moving without all your stuff.

Common’s coliving homes provide private fully furnished bedrooms and gorgeous furnished shared suites, so you really only need to move in with your suitcase and you. Our homes in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and DC are an easy remedy to all of these moving ails if the prospect of moving seems all too daunting to you.

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