Furnished rentals are apartments or houses that come with furniture already in them, so you don't have to buy these items yourself. These can be great for those who either simply hate looking for furniture, don't want to put out the money to furnish their own place all at once or are highly mobile and don't have a rental term that makes the costs of purchasing and moving furniture worth it. However, they do cost more, and you want to make sure it includes what you need if you're going to be paying extra.
Make sure that the kitchen has the basics: a kitchen table and the right number of chairs around it. Check the condition of these items; along with the normal rental responsibilities, you are also responsible for the condition of furnished items during the rental term. Make sure that your lease covers normal wear and tear on the furnished items. However, you will still be held responsible for damaged items. Consequently, make sure that the table is in sturdy condition and free of major scratches or damage. The same goes for the chairs. Make sure the kitchen has a microwave if you're paying for a furnished apartment.
The standard furnishings for your common area include at least a couch, usually a lounge chair of some sort and a lamp. Lighting is an aspect of apartments that aren't usually given much thought until the sunsets on the day you move in, so make sure you're getting appropriate lighting. The room should also include a television (unless it explicitly says in the rental agreement that one won't be furnished, in which case you should make sure the premium you're paying for the furnished apartment is appropriate to what you're getting) and a stand for it. Remember to locate the remote control for the television before the apartment manager leaves.
In the bedroom, make sure that you have the bare essentials for getting through the days in a civilized manner. (If you're a starving college student, you can disregard items as you see fit.) These will include a bed with a mattress and box spring. Make sure the bed comes with a box spring, if not for your personal comfort, then to make sure that the mattress itself is still in good condition at the end of the lease term. You don't want to be charged for "damage" to a mattress. A night stand, lamp (remember lighting), dresser with drawers for clothing and a closet that comes with hangers is also appropriate.
The main essentials for the bathroom include a towel rack, which even most unfurnished rentals have, and a shower curtain. Make sure to check the curtain for mold or mildew before the apartment manager leaves.
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