One day, you’ll buy your first place and make it your own.

But until then, you might be renting. And while you rent, you want to 1) put as much as you can towards your first home and 2) actually enjoy where you live.

The good news is, you can do both. Here’s how.

Know what you can and can’t do with your rented space.

Speak to your landlord or agency about what they’re comfortable with. Can you paint the walls? Can you change the carpets? Are they okay with you getting a pet? Ideally, you’d have this conversation before you rent a place, but it’s worthwhile, even when you’ve been living there for a bit.

Tip: Prep all the questions beforehand, so you can ask everything in one go. Hopefully you’ll catch them when the sun’s shining and they’re having a good hair day.

Keep a record of everything

Y’know what really helps with those moving costs? Getting your full deposit back. And with some careful planning, you can up your chances.

  1. Take high-res photos of every chip in the wall or crack in the furniture from day one and send them to your landlord. When it comes to moving out, you’ll have proof of any damage that existed before you lived there. Make sure you send the evidence to your landlord or agency within 7 days of moving in so that you have time-stamped proof that the damage was already there.
  2. That inventory they handed you on a print-out? Keep it somewhere safe!
  3. Try to have any conversations with your landlord or agency over email. Even if you speak in person or over the phone, follow up with an email or text so you have a written record of any agreements.

Know your rights (and responsibilities) as a tenant.

There are laws in place that help to protect both you and the person who owns the property you live in. As a tenant, it’s important that you know these, so you can challenge things like unfair evictions and high charges. But also, so you can understand your responsibilities as a tenant (like whether you’re allowed to sublet a room). You can find all this information on the government website.

Use your monthly rent to your advantage.

A good credit score will help you get a mortgage and give you access to some of the best mortgage deals.

Through the Rental Exchange Scheme, you can boost your credit score just by paying your rent on time. If you haven’t already, ask your landlord or letting agent to add your rental payment data to the Rental Exchange. Find out more on their website.

P.s. Missing your rent can lower your credit score and make things more challenging when you apply for a mortgage. Always speak to your landlord if you’ve got some money troubles.

Reduce the expenses you can control.

  • Switch your gas and electricity bills every year.
  • Shop around for broadband deals.
  • Get a free smart-meter installed so you can keep an eye on your daily energy spend.

The more you can save on this stuff, the more you can put towards your first home and the sooner you’ll be paying your own mortgage (instead of someone else’s).

Be a good neighbour.

Simple stuff, like saying hello in the hallway, or letting your neighbours know that you’re having a party can help you build a good relationship with the people next door.

If there are ever any problems, they’ll be more likely to politely knock the door, instead of complaining to your landlord (and you can do the same when it’s their turn).Take the area for a test-run.

If you can, try renting in the area you hope to buy in. You’ll get to know the neighbourhood, and really understand what life’ll be like when (if) you buy a place there.

Try some rental-friendly home decor.

You don’t plan on living there forever, but that doesn’t mean you have to exist in a magnolia box for the next few years.

Even if your landlord is pretty strict, there are some great rental-friendly decor ideas you can try.

  • Use textiles like curtains, cushions, throws and rugs to add colour and texture.
  • Try Command Strips for hole-free picture hanging.
  • If you’re allowed to paint (even if you have to paint over it before you leave) you could try the super-easy painted arch trend.
  • Use peelable vinyls on your walls, floors and cabinets.
  • Replace your light shades.

For inspo from other renters, go to Medina Grillo’s How I Rent series and buy her brilliant book, Home Sweet Rented Home.

Want to go from renting to buying?

Here are 16 ways our app, Nude,  can help you.