You’ve been searching night and day for a two-bedroom palace to call your own. Then, you finally stumble across the apartment that’s right for you. Now, what?

Whether you’re a first-time or long-time renter, here are a few tips that can help you before you commit.

Show me the money

First things first: figure out what you can afford. Your rent should fit into your monthly budget. And, while we’re talking numbers, keep in mind that you’ll also have bills: heat, gas, water, and maybe internet or cable.

Don’t underestimate the cost of moving. Think application fees, pet fees, a security deposit, and an initial deposit for electricity or gas. Especially if you plan on hiring movers, these bills will add up and cost you a pretty penny.

Go inspector gadget

Searching online is an easy way to find apartments, but it’s also important to see the place in person. Maybe your furniture won’t fit, or you’ll find that something is damaged. If you move forward with a place and do notice existing damages, notify the landlord so you won’t be held responsible.

Read up

Read the lease before you sign it. It’s a binding agreement and lets you know what is expected of you and what you can expect from your landlord. Pay close attention to language addressing what happens if you need to break the lease or if you’d like to sublet. Also, check out if there are late fees or if you’re responsible for renter’s insurance.

Room for roomies

A roommate can help you save some extra cash, but it’s important to have that person sign the lease. You want to make sure he or she is equally responsible if things turn sour later.

What it boils down to …

Good renters are hard to find. That’s why having a good relationship with your landlord is ideal. He or she will remember what kind of relationship you’ve had when it’s time to resign.

If you’re looking to increase your savings so you can afford a new apartment—or interested in starting to save for a house downpayment—Wintrust offers a variety of savings accounts that can fit your savings needs.