1.) Rent Amount - Calculating your top number on how much you are willing to pay for rent is essential first step to finding a place to live. Many landlords will want to see a healthy debt to income ratio to make sure you are not over committing financially.
2.) Location - Now that you know how much your budget it will give you a good idea of what are the areas you should look into.
3.) Start the search - whether you are using an agent to find the best deal for you or you are surfing web and driving around to see For Rent signs, make sure you determine your Needs fist and Wants second. Pay attention to the restrictions, call ahead of time and find out their requirements: Credit Score, Income Requirements, Background Check, Pets? etc.
4.) Schedule a Viewing - It is very important that you see the place. Pictures can be very misleading. Pay attention to the condition and your safety.
5.) Application Process - This step varies from landlord to landlord. You want to be honest and open with your potential landlord. The process has a few parts to it. That includes an Application Process, Credit/Background Check and Verification of Employment. Keep in mind that each time someone checks your credit is considered an Inquiry and your credit score will be effected.
6.) Lease Signing - Have everything in writing. If you are renting a condo, make sure you have received rules and guidelines.
7.) Moving in - Pay attention to the condition of the property you are moving into. For your record take pictures of things that do not seem right and bring it to the attention of the landlord.
8.) Know your local rights as a tenant.