Finding an apartment after a divorce can be daunting. Or exciting. Perhaps a heady combination of both. Whether this is the life-reset button you've been waiting to push or one that was less voluntary and more situational, you got this!
Armed with the knowledge of what you need, what you want and what's practical, you can make your next place a comfortable home base where you can grow into this new life. It's time to make this “new lease on life" literal in the best ways possible!
In particular, if you're a Baby Boomer. This generation — the one that helped usher in rock music and civil rights — bucked the traditionalist trends of its predecessors, who endured unhappy marriages out of a sense of tradition.
Source: Pew Research Center
Their divorce rate has more than doubled since the 1990s and they have been spending post-marital life, quite largely, as renters, with some favoring a return to a more colorful urban setting and others remaining in suburban or rural environments.
The rules for all newly divorced would-be renters, though, begin with knowing the budget.
Boomers tend to be fairly affluent. They were the first generation to make women in the workplace common, after all. Newly single, your financial situation, even if you have been working, may not be quite where you want it just yet (and divorce can be expensive).
Figure out the space you need and do the math to figure out what your current income will allow. Being conservative and forgoing the luxury fixtures and amenities will pay off if you're diligent.
You may need some extra room if you'll have kids who will be living with you even part of the time. Divorce is stressful for everyone in the family, so it will be nicer for your children to feel as though there's space for them in your new home, even if they have to share a room.
One idea that often works is to give them the larger bedroom or master suite of the apartment and take the smaller one for yourself.
Keep the budget in mind, of course. While it's nice for everyone to have lots of space, the dollar is king. Don't overspend to keep them happier. A parent with less stress, financial and otherwise, will likely do more for their emotional state than having a bathroom to themselves.
Where do you plan to be in a year? If moving out becomes a necessity sooner than you had planned, it may be smart to find a place with a short-term option to prevent being locked in.
As you visit the various communities in the areas you're considering — these might be based on your job, school districts or other ties to the neighborhood that haven't yet been completely sorted. Keep in mind that your needs may be quite different when the dust settles. Getting out of a lease could be costly in ways that really hurt your bottom line.
Determine if a higher rent could be worth the flexibility of incurring fees or losing a security deposit when it turns out you have to move again. At the same time, if you know you'll be staying put in the area for a while, locking in a workable rent for as long as possible could be the better move!
Shop around and see if one community offers longer leases than some of the others. These could be excellent options to keep your costs down while settling into your new normal.