What’s the Average Cost of Car Insurance In the U.S.?

When it comes to shopping around for car insurance, it can be difficult to figure out the pricing structure. Part of the issue is that the price varies significantly by where you live, the minimum coverage requirements and a number of other factors. 

Your auto policy and the premium will also depend on such factors as age; car year, make and model; driving record; location; and gender, which we get into more later.

The average cost of car insurance in the United States is $1,758 per year, which works out to about $146.50 per month. In Florida, the average monthly cost is 29% higher than the national average. A car insurance policy in Alaska, on the other hand, will cost you much less on average, at just $77.88 per month. Even ZIP codes in the same town can differ.

This means that your insurance premium and the premium of your friend living across town will likely be quite different.

With all those factors, how do you know what to expect when it comes to the cost of auto insurance? Well, we’ve got your back. We’ll go into how much auto insurance costs by state and by insurance provider, dive into the other factors, and talk about what you can do to save money on auto insurance.

Research Methodology

The Simple Dollar analyzed millions of car insurance rates in every U.S. ZIP code to determine the average cost by state, carrier, coverage amount, credit score, and other factors from Coverage.com. This includes analyzing thousands of rates from all 50 states that were publicly sourced from 2019 insurer filings. Rates are based on a 30-year-old male or female that had a clean driving record, and we looked at those who had both good and poor credit. These rates should be used to inform your car insurance shopping process, but your own quote may differ based on your unique driving profile.

In this article

What decides the cost of auto insurance?

Here, we’ll get into details about factors that decide the cost of your car insurance. They can be:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Where you live
  • The car you drive
  • Your driving history
  • Education level
  • Profession
  • How long you’ve been driving
  • Your credit score
  • Your driving habits
  • The amount of coverage you choose
  • The type of coverage you choose

[Read: The Simple Guide to Car Insurance]

1. Why does where I live affect the cost of car insurance?

Car insurance rates vary dramatically by state and even ZIP code.

Let’s look at Louisiana. That state offers the most expensive rates for full coverage, with an average annual rate of $3,279.18. One of the reasons why car insurance is so expensive in Louisiana is because the state has one of the highest accident rates. The number of fatal accidents and frequency of collisions in the state is significantly higher than the national average, which leads to higher auto insurance rates.  

State car insurance rates are also determined by the number of uninsured drivers on the road. This leads Florida to be the most expensive state for minimal coverage — 26.7% of drivers don’t have car insurance. Uninsured drivers create more risk and ultimately increase the price of insurance for everyone.

Most expensive full and minimum coverage costs per state

State (Full coverage cost) Average Full Coverage Cost Average Full Coverage Monthly Cost State (Minimum coverage cost) Average Min. Coverage Cost Average Min. Coverage Monthly Cost
1. Louisiana $3,279 $273 1. Florida $1,544 $129
2. Florida $3,289 $266 2. Michigan $1,525 $127
3. Maryland $3,079 $257 3. Maryland $1,489 $124
4. Michigan $2,730 $227 4. Louisiana $1,488 $124
5. New York $2,609 $217 5. Rhode Island $1,445 $120
6. Pennsylvania $2,493 $208 6. Connecticut $1,309 $109
7. New Jersey $2,471 $206 7. New York $1,245 $104
8. California $2,417 $201 8. New Jersey $1,162 $97
9. Rhode Island $2,394 $200 9. Delaware $1,017 $85
10. Colorado $2,346 $196 10. Nevada $989 $82

Which states have the cheapest car insurance?

At an average premium of just over $300 each year, Iowa drivers pay the least amount for minimal coverage –– by a significant amount. Iowa’s low population density is one of the main reasons costs are so low. The majority of the state is made up of “dense rural” areas, rather than urban areas. With fewer drivers on the road, there is less risk of accidents overall.

Cheapest full and minimum coverage cost per state

State (Full coverage rank) Average Full Coverage Cost Average Full Coverage Monthly Cost State (Minimum Coverage rank) Average Min. Coverage Cost Average Min. Coverage Monthly Cost
1. Idaho $1,094 $91 1. Iowa $306 $26
2. Maine $1,242 $103 2. South Dakota $382 $32
3. Hawaii $1,264 $105 3. North Dakota $390 $32
4. Iowa $1,275 $106 4. Wyoming $393 $33
5. Vermont $1,366 $114 5. Nebraska $412 $34
6. Ohio $1,397 $116 6. Idaho $429 $36
7. Nebraska $1,397 $116 7. Hawaii $439 $37
8. North Carolina $1,417 $118 8. Montana $441 $37
9. North Dakota $1,419 $118 9. Ohio $462 $38
10. New Hampshire $1,487 $124 10. North Carolina $482 $40

2. What are my choices of insurance coverage and which are more expensive?

Though every state sets its own regulations, there is a minimum amount of insurance you must carry in each of the 48 states that require car insurance. (New Hampshire and Virginia don’t require insurance.) You can choose to carry higher limits, which will result in a higher premium.

What type of auto insurance coverage should I choose?

You can also choose to add collision and/or comprehensive coverage to your policy to create “full coverage.” While minimum coverage only protects you against liability claims from others, full coverage also protects your vehicle. Collision coverage, as the name suggests, protects your vehicle when it collides with another vehicle, building or other objects. Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle in non-collision incidents, such as theft or a natural disaster. 

Not everyone needs full coverage. Here are some things to consider if full coverage is right for you:

  • Older vehicles may not need full coverage since the deductible could be higher than the value of the car.
  • Full coverage may not be worth it if you rarely drive and have little to no history of accidents.
  • If you have a lease or a car loan, check with your lender. You may be required to maintain full coverage.

Your policy limits and deductible will fine-tune your car insurance costs, whether you choose minimum or full coverage. The policy limits are how much the insurance company will pay for each type of incident. The deductible is how much you are responsible for paying before the insurance company starts to pay.

Should I choose minimum coverage vs. full coverage?

Minimum coverage car insurance differs in every state, but it usually includes: bodily injury, liability coverage and property damage liability coverage at a minimum. This is the cheapest coverage you can buy, and you can’t legally carry less than the minimum amount.

Full coverage car insurance, on the other hand, is more expensive because it offers significantly more protection. However, it’s worth the added cost. If you settle for the state’s minimum insurance requirements, you run the risk of being underinsured.

Full coverage car insurance, on the other hand, is more expensive because it offers significantly more protection. However, it’s worth the added cost. If you settle for the state’s minimum insurance requirements, you run the risk of being underinsured.

Full coverage car insurance usually includes:

You will see coverage amounts listed as three numbers separated by slashes, such as 30/50/30. These numbers represent, in order, bodily injury liability per person, bodily injury liability per accident and property damage liability per accident, in thousands of dollars. So 30/50/30 insurance covers $30,000 of bodily injury per person, $50,000 of bodily injury per accident and $30,000 of property damage per accident.

Drivers can also elect to purchase additional coverage for things like roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and accident forgiveness.

If you get into a costly accident, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have enough coverage to pay for the full extent of the damages. In that case, you would be financially responsible for paying the difference, which would come out-of-pocket.

3. Can my credit score impact the cost of car insurance?

Your credit score can have a massive impact on your car insurance rates, regardless of other factors. Only three states — California, Hawaii and Massachusetts — ban insurers from factoring in credit score, while in many states your rates could more than double if your credit is poor.

Car insurance cost: poor credit vs. good credit

Carrier Good Credit Full Coverage Average Cost Poor Credit Full Coverage Average Cost Difference
Allstate $2,457.21 $3,528.41 $1,071.19
American Family $1,728.63 $2,897.22 $1,168.59
Farmers $1,534.08 $2,560.31 $1,026.23
Geico $1,336.58 $2,197.10 $860.52
Nationwide $1,379.07 $1,931.89 $552.82
Progressive $1,915.07 $2,976.39 $1,061.32
State Farm $1,902.69 $2,701.59 $798.90
Travelers $1,952.91 $2,635.82 $682.91
USAA $1,178.28 $3,486.49 $2,308.21
Average Difference     $1,058.96

Need to boost your credit score and improve your car insurance rates?

  • Become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card (if they have good credit).
  • Pay down at least one balance or request a limit increase. Either will give you points for having more available credit.

4. Do my age and gender affect the cost of auto insurance?

In a word, yes. Even your basic demographics can have a strong impact on your car insurance costs. Most (though not all) states allow drivers to be rated based on:

  • Age: Younger drivers and those over the age of 75 generally pay more.
  • Gender: Among drivers under age 25, men typically pay more than women — this discrepancy tends to go away for more experienced drivers.
  • Marital status: Married people are considered lower risk, and thus tend to pay less for car insurance.

5. Can my type of car affect the cost of my insurance?

Which car you choose can have a surprisingly big effect on your insurance rates.

Less expensive to insure

  • Big vehicles
  • Family vehicles such as SUVs or sedans

More expensive to insure

  • Small cars
  • Sports cars, especially those that are considered high-performance

6. How can my driving history affect the cost of auto insurance?

As you might expect, insurance companies don’t particularly like paying claims. So if your driving history is poor, you can expect higher premiums. In order of costliness, some things that could raise your rates include:

7. Do auto insurance companies care about my driving habits?

Statistically, the more you drive, the more likely you are to get into an accident. Likewise, parking on the street is more likely to result in damage than parking in your own garage. To save money on car insurance, consider:

  • Taking public transportation to work
  • Reducing your commute
  • Carpooling
  • Paying for off-street parking

8. How does the car insurance company I choose affect my cost of auto insurance?

Of course, all insurance carriers are free to set their own prices. Some carriers offer discounts for which you might qualify, such as safe driving bonuses or discounts for military families, and some may rate your particular risk level lower than others. So it always pays to shop around.

As you can see below, most major car insurance providers are in the same ballpark for rates, but there are some clear outliers. You’ll get the most expensive full coverage auto insurance premium from Allstate, and the most affordable from USAA.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Travelers offered the most expensive minimum coverage rate of $815.41, and USAA offers the cheapest rate by far – just $487.04 each year. This makes USAA seem like the obvious choice, but USAA doesn’t provide coverage to just anyone — it has strict military and immediate family restrictions.

Carrier Full Coverage Average Cost Full Coverage Monthly Cost Minimum Coverage Average Cost Minimum Coverage Monthly Cost
Allstate $2,457.21 $205 $800.53 $67
American Family $1,728.63 $144 $813.48 $68
Farmers $1,534.08 $128 $614.64 $51
Geico $1,336.58 $111 $568.88 $47
Nationwide $1,379.07 $115 $830.00 $69
Progressive $1,915.07 $160 $742.80 $62
State Farm $1,902.69 $159 $801.81 $67
Travelers $1,952.91 $163 $815.41 $68
USAA $1,178.28 $98 $487.04 $41

How can I save on car insurance?

There are a few tricks for saving on auto insurance, including lowering the amount you drive, improving your credit score, and of course, driving more safely. You can also get a host of discounts, depending on your choice in insurance provider.

To get the best deal for your circumstances, conduct a car insurance comparison.

Different insurers offer different discounts. Insurers like Geico, State Farm and Progressive are frequently recognized for having cheaper car insurance rates.

Common discounts include:

  • Good student savings
  • Certain organization membership
  • Active duty military
  • Bundling other policies with the same company
  • Driving a low-risk car
  • Infrequent driving
  • Having a good credit score

Boost your credit score

Taking the steps to improve your credit score is another way to save money on your car insurance. As an added bonus, it will help reduce costs in other areas like credit card APRs. Start by paying all of your bills on time, checking your credit report for errors and paying down high interest debt. Remember, improving your credit score is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take some time to see your score increase.

[Read: Car Insurance Rates Are Up – Here Are Eight Ways to Get Yours Back Down]

Car insurance cost FAQs

It varies by state, but in general, you can expect to need coverage for bodily injury liability, property damage liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. States like New Hampshire don’t require car insurance, though additional requirements are in place.

It depends on a few factors. You should consider the likelihood of your car being damaged (based on your area, your vehicle’s age and similar factors) and your ability to pay for repairs if damages were to occur. Also think about how often you drive. From the start, driving more will put you at a higher risk for an accident.

After an at-fault accident, you can expect to see a 42% rise in your premium, according to data from InsuranceQuotes and Quadrant Information Services. Unfortunately, these rates were measured from people with relatively clean driving histories. If you have a less-than-perfect record, you may be subject to even higher premium increases. How much your rate will increase will depend on the claim type, if you were at fault, your carrier and what state the accident took place in.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the car insurance we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

The Best Investors Are Dead — Here’s What to Learn from Them

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s not dead.
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? How will they pay the bills? Send the kids through school? Now’s a good time to start planning for the future.
Apparently it’s a Wall Street urban legend. But hey, that doesn’t mean the point doesn’t still stand. As most people will tell you, the biggest things working on any investor’s side are time and patience. Trying to time the market, panic-selling or buying due to FOMO will almost never beat the returns of long-held investments.
In other words, dead people do better in the stock market than living people, and it’s because dead people aren’t always fiddling with their investment accounts the way living people do.
We asked Robin Hartill for some stock market advice. She’s a certified financial planner and financial advice columnist for The Penny Hoarder. She recommends budgeting a certain amount of money to invest each month, no matter what.
“The timing of your investment matters much less than how much time you have to invest,” Hartill says. “The cost of waiting for the perfect time to invest is high. You’re missing out on long-term growth.”

1. Buy and Hold

Hartill’s advice: The stock market will make you money if you give it time, so you might as well get started sooner rather than later.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
*For Securities priced over ,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at Dead investors are great at not overthinking things. They just plug right along and do their thing without any fuss. That’s why their investment portfolios perform so well.

2. Don’t Try to Time the Market

**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
Dead people know better than anyone: The passage of time is what matters most. That’s true when it comes to investing, too.
When it comes to investing, be like dead people. Don’t overthink things.
There are two kinds of dead investors: Dead people who had life insurance policies to help out the loved ones they left behind; and dead people who wish they’d had life insurance policies.

3. Get Life Insurance; Rates Start at Just $16/Month

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Not sure where to start? It’s easy to set up auto-transfers so you can regularly invest with an app called Stash. It lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio. It makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals.
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
All the more reason to sign up with Stash, where you can get started with as little as .*
Privacy Policy

4. Don’t Overthink Things

So, real or not, these dead investors are onto something. Here are four things dead people can teach us about investing:

Now, the only problem with this cool story is there’s no evidence it ever really happened. Google results turn up plenty of stories about this supposed “study” — but no actual study.
If you’re under the age of 54 and want to get a fast life insurance quote without a medical exam or even getting up from the couch, get a free quote from Bestow.
You see, there’s this funny story that gets passed around on Wall Street. The way this story goes, one day, the chief bean counters at the financial giant Fidelity did this big study on what kinds of investors performed the best. And what they found out was, the accounts with the highest returns were classified as “dead or inactive.”
“The S&P 500 has delivered inflation-adjusted returns of about 7% per year on average for the past 50 years,” she said.
In other words, don’t try to time the market. It’s a fool’s errand to try to anticipate the various booms and crashes that the stock market will inevitably go through. Instead, start investing as early as possible, and focus on the long term.
When it comes to investing your money, dead people have the right idea.
Dead investors are the ultimate “buy and hold” investors — in this case, we mean that they just stay consistent. Dead people, as a rule, are really consistent in their behavior. <!–

–>


You’re probably thinking: I don’t have the time or money for that. But your application can take minutes — and you could leave your family up to million with a company called Bestow.

3 Simple Ways to Make $652

Everyone would love a little bit of extra money, but there always seems to be a catch that comes along with it.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. That’s why we created this list of three simple ways to put a few hundred dollars back into your account.

They range from plain old fun to super practical — either way, they are simple ways you could make more than $600 without too much effort on your part.

Which easy-cash opportunity will you start with?

1. Get Paid up to $80/Month — Just for Sharing Your Opinion

Taking surveys might not sound like the best way to make money, but if you’re just vegging out on the couch — or pretending to be interested in your partner’s new favorite show — why not click a couple buttons? It could earn you up to $80 a month. Seriously.

There are a bunch of paid survey sites out there, but one of the best we’ve found is Survey Junkie.

They’ll ask you questions about things like, what kind of laundry detergent you use, or if you prefer Pepsi or Coke. You get points for answering, and many people accumulate enough points to request a check within a few hours.

More than 10 million people already use Survey Junkie, and it has 4.5/5 stars on TrustPilot.

Give it a try by visiting Survey Junkie and clicking the “Join Now” button. It’s free.

2. Let This App Pay You up to $83 When You Win Solitaire Games

Lots of us already play Solitaire on our phones for fun or just to pass the time. Want to see if you can win money at it?

There’s a free iPhone app called Solitaire Cash that lets you play for real money. You could get paid up to $83 per win.

You might be thinking: There’s got to be a catch. This is definitely one of those spammy apps, right?

Wrong. There really isn’t a catch. Sure, you can pay to play in some higher-stakes tournaments, but there’s no pressure. And, in fact, there aren’t even any annoying ads.

With each game, you’ll battle it out against at least five other players. Everyone gets the same deck, so winning is totally a matter of skill. The top three players who solve the deck fastest can win real money — anywhere from $1 to $83.

Over on the App Store, it has over a million downloads and more than 15,000 ratings, averaging 4.7 stars (out of 5).

To get started, just download the free app and start playing your first game immediately.

3. Here’s How You Could Knock $489/Year From Your Car Insurance in Minutes

When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?

You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year. That’s more than $40 off your premium every single month

Yup. That could be nearly $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Save Hundreds on Your Home Insurance Policy With SmartFinancial

Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
Privacy Policy
To see if you’re overpaying for your home insurance policy, check out a website called SmartFinancial. It’s a digital marketplace where you can get quotes and compare rates from multiple top-rated insurance carriers to make sure you’re getting the best price.
It takes just two minutes to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all your options side-by-side. Yep — you can save hundreds on your home insurance in only a couple minutes.
So if you want to know for sure that you’re not being ripped off by your insurance company, compare your options with help from Smart Financial. It takes just minutes to get started here.
If you’re a homeowner, you probably have home insurance, but you hardly ever think about it. That’s good — it means you haven’t needed to use it.
Ready to stop worrying about money? <!–

–>


Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars when they switch home insurance companies using SmartFinancial.

‘I Bought a House in a Flood Zone’: Here’s How We Don’t Sink

One weekend last fall, I was checking out a real estate listing on realtor.com of a cute 19th-century house near a creek. But underneath this idyllic photo, I noticed two words in small, blue print, “Flood Factor,” followed by a number,10/10.

Alarmed, I delved deeper, and learned that this property’s flood risk was as high as it gets.

I texted my real estate agent, who’d sent me this listing: “Let’s skip this one. I don’t want to live in a flood zone.”

Still, our house hunt had been going from bad to worse all summer. Our quest for a second home in upstate New York had stalled, as the ongoing pandemic sent droves of home buyers into the market. A new listing would hit, our real estate agent would book a showing for a day or two later, and by the time we were driving to see the property, I’d learn there was already an accepted offer.

On this particular weekend, this flood-prone house was near the one tour we’d scheduled.

“We’ll be so close to it, why not just swing by?” my agent asked.

I agreed. After all, what did we have to lose?

Our backyard during the worst of a recent flood watch
Our backyard during the worst of a recent flood watch

Janet Siroto

Buying a house in a flood zone: Is it worth the risk?

This house was a charmer and then some: an 1870s homestead with three fireplaces, wide-board floors, a beautifully renovated kitchen, and a roomy addition that meant more space for our family. Outside, the creek burbled, filling the house with sounds of nature. In the yard, a hummingbird darted to and fro, a frog hopped in the water, and butterflies circled about. It was like a scene from “Enchanted,” a Disney movie come to life.

In short order, my husband and I huddled with our real estate agent, deciding how much to offer for the house. As for the flooding, we were provided with a massive file of information about bridge and dam improvements that diminished the flood risk, as well as documentation of what the sellers had done to safeguard the property from rising water.

We learned the house had indeed flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But, we wondered, who on the East Coast hadn’t felt the impact of that devastating event?

My husband pored over the property’s survey, noting the elevations of the yard, basement, and house, and then cross-referenced that with historic flood data on high tidal surges. He felt we were OK, so onward we went.

Getting the flood insurance facts

As we progressed toward closing the sale, we became acquainted with the ins and outs of flood insurance, which our bank required to approve our mortgage.

Flood insurance is similar to other insurance coverage: The lower your deductible (what you pay out of pocket to fix problems before insurance kicks in), the higher your premium (what you pay for the insurance). Once an insurance broker laid out our options, it was clear that our property would run several thousand dollars a year.

My husband and I thought long and hard about the numbers. The additional cost of flood insurance at a time of historically low mortgage rates seemed like a decent trade-off. We paid the first year of flood insurance upfront, and then had the next year’s premium rolled into our monthly mortgage payment. This assured the bank that we were committed to ongoing coverage through the life of our loan.

Our backyard patio is just steps from the creek.
Our backyard patio is just steps from the creek.

Janet Siroto

Blame it on the rain

We closed on the house just before the holidays. Feeling safe and snug, we were so happy to be in our little haven in the country. Up went a Christmas tree, which one of our sons had chopped down himself a few miles from our new home. Down came snow, lots of it. The house looked so pretty, frosted in white, and the yard was carpeted in snow drifts.

But this bucolic scene took a turn for the worse, and fast.

The weather service announced there would be torrential rain on Christmas Day. In addition, temperatures would be unseasonably warm, in the 50s, causing all the snow to melt and run off. Flood watches and warnings were issued.

At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about wrapping the last of the holiday gifts and sliding them under the tree. Instead, I was anxiously imagining how the next day might unfold.

The next day: unrelenting rain and temperatures warm enough to melt every inch of snow.

In the back of our yard, where the creek merged with another stream, we noticed that we had less yard. The water was overflowing its normal boundaries and advancing toward the house. My husband stuck a measuring stick in the ground. We watched and waited.

By midafternoon on Christmas Day, about half of our yard was under a few inches of water. My plans for a gazebo by the rear property line were clearly dashed, as that area turned out to be semiaquatic. We realized we were in only a flood watch (meaning potential danger), not a full-on flood warning (which basically means prepare to evacuate).

We held our breath—the creek surged, and retreated.

Making peace with major risk

We had Christmas dinner in our new home, overlooking a very soggy scene outside. What had we gotten ourselves into? More than we’d bargained for, that’s true. We are going to live with a layer of uncertainty and worry about rising waters that we’ve never had before.

But then again, we’ve never before experienced the joy of opening our windows and listening to a babbling brook. Or seeing all kinds of ducks come bobbing through our backyard. Or catching trout 10 feet from our kitchen.

We rolled the dice, and so far, we’re keeping our heads and hopes well above water.

The creek in our backyard is so picturesque, it's worth the flood risk.
The creek in our backyard is so picturesque, it’s worth the flood risk.

Janet Siroto

Source: realtor.com

10 Critical Questions to Ask as a First-Time Renter

Avoid huge mistakes and bad surprises before leasing your very first apartment.  Ask the property manager these critical renters’ questions.  The feedback you get will help you decide if a community is a good fit for you, and the answers will also affect your quality of life, should you sign a lease and move in.

Hot Tip: Forward this list to yourself before you go to your apartment viewing so you can refer to it while you’re there!

  • Are there roommate restrictions?
  • How many people can live with you?  How long could your out-of-work cousin hang out if he’s not on the lease?  Does the number of residents have any relation to the number of bedrooms?  Even if you’re planning on living alone, you might discover that neighboring apartments are being overloaded without oversight.

  • What amenities and utilities are included in the rent?
  • Ask if your cable, internet, water, electric, gas or trash service is included. If internet speed and quality is important to you, don’t sign a lease without speaking to other residents about their experience.  Find out which cable provider offers service there. Check the bars on your phone before you sign a lease; are you in a solid service area?  If you work nights and like to work out at midnight, ask about the gym’s hours. It’s also a great idea to visit the gym and see if the equipment measures up to your standards and if a key or code is required for entry: preferable and safer.

  • What happens at lease renewal time?
  • Can I go month-to-month if I need to? You never know what your circumstances will be a year from now, so it’s definitely preferable if you can extend your lease by less than 12 months.  It may be a couple of months before your next great place is available for move-in, and believe us, you don’t want a gap in between the two! Be sure to read the fine print about your obligations if circumstances dictate an early departure too: that can be pricey.  (Subletting is one answer, but isn’t allowed in some communities).

  • What’s the noise level like?
  • Do the upper-floor apartments have carpet or flooring?  Will I hear a lot of noise living below an occupied unit when its residents are home? If you’re noise-sensitive, you probably won’t like living below hard-surface flooring.  Residents walking across upstairs rooms can be incredibly noisy, day and night, if they’re wearing shoes.

  • What are the security measures at this complex?
  • Are there nightly patrols, coded gates, security cameras or neighborhood crimewatch groups? You need to know what community infrastructure is in place to dissuade or solve a crime. How far away is the fire department?  Be really smart by finding out what crimes have happened at this apartment complex, or nearby, in the past year or two. This is a question for local law enforcement officials, or to research on your own, using a county or city website.  Make sure you’re leaning toward a safe location… or choose a different community based on the numbers or types of crimes which turn up in your research.

  • What are the pet policies and amenities?
  • Will you be able to keep your puppy when he hits 40 pounds?   What’s required if your cat likes to go for a walk?  Is there a rule against talking parrots?  Can your dog get in the pool?  (Don’t bet on this one!)  What about a dedicated dog park, or a place to wash your dog?  Can your pets be kept on your patio or balcony?

  • What are the parking options?
  • It’s important to know how far you’ll be walking from your car to your door.  A garage may also be an option. Be aware that you might hear garage doors going up and down if you move in above them. Ask where your friends will park, too, and how they’ll get into the complex.  And while you’re on the subject of cars, go ahead and inquire if there’s a place for washing vehicles.  More and more apartment complexes are offering dedicated spaces or facilities for this task.

  • What insurance does the property carry, and what will I need to carry?
  • Your complex should be adequately insured for fire, tornadoes, flood or other natural disasters. You can ask for a copy. Even if they don’t show or give it to you, their response will be telling. Note that the apartment complex will very likely insist that tenants carry renters’ insurance, which will add to your monthly cost.  You might also inquire about grills if you’re hoping to have one on your balcony or patio; some apartment complex policies don’t allow this.

  • How close is the nearest public transportation?
  • Even if you love love love to drive, you  (or one of your roommates or visitors) may want to use public transportation.  Ask where it is, then go see if you’d feel good about making the trek on foot or bicycle.

  • What types of problems can management help to resolve?
  • Ask if the apartment manager will intervene with noisy neighbors, dog problems, unsightly or abandoned cars, or dead landscaping.  Inquire how to address appliance repairs, or window and door repairs, and find out what the procedure is for reporting a problem.  Get the phone numbers you’ll need if you sign a lease.

    Did we cover all the tips a first-time renter will need? What advice would you give a first-time renter? Let us know below!

    Source: apartmentguide.com