If you'd rather live in a house setting than in an apartment community, but you plan on moving within the next few years, renting an entire house is a good in-between option. You'll get to come home to a comfortable house without worrying about upstairs or downstairs neighbors, and when you decide to move, you won't have to go through the hassle of the sale. To ensure the experience of renting a house goes smoothly, be sure to tackle these tasks before you start hunting too seriously:
Check your credit score and report.
Some landlords will check your score when you apply to rent a house, while others will not. To be on the safe side, you should check your score and credit report before you start hunting. This way, if you discover items on your report that do not belong to you, you can contact the credit reporting company and get them removed, hopefully raising your score, before landlords start scrutinizing your credit.
Knowing your credit score also ensures you are prepared for any questions regarding it. If you find that your score is not as high as you'd like it to be, you have time to prepare an explanation (make it an honest one) for landlords who may be hesitant to rent to you because of the low score.
Decide how much yard work and upkeep you can fit into your schedule.
When you rent a small apartment, you're rarely responsible for things like mowing the lawn and weeding the flower beds. On the other hand, when you rent a house, there's a good chance you'll be asked to do some of these things as a part of your lease agreement. Decide ahead of time how much you're willing to do in terms of yard work and the like.
If you decide you don't want to do any, this will allow you to focus your housing search on properties that require no maintenance from the tenant. If you decide you're willing to do some work, you can likely save money by considering only properties that require this -- landlords typically charge less if the tenant does yard work, since they don't have to pay a landscaper. Figuring out what you prefer in advance will save you from being stuck in a situation where you can't keep up with the yard work and are thus in violation of your lease terms.
Think about how long it may be until you move.
Sometimes, landlords who rent houses prefer to do so on longer-term leases. Instead of the 6-month or 1-year leases that are common with smaller apartments, you may find a lot of 2 and 3-year leases. There will surely be 1-year leases available, too, but they might be harder to find. Ask yourself how long you think it will be before you have any chance, whatsoever, of having to move. This way, you won't be stuck in a 2-year lease but needing to move in a year. If your situation dictates, don't be afraid to ask the landlord if a lease term different from that being advertised is an option. They may be willing to accommodate a shorter lease if you can prove you're a responsible tenant.
For help finding a rental house that works for you, talk to a real estate office like Charles L Moles Real Estate Services.