Five questions to ask yourself before you choose to rent a property [Photo: iStock/monkeybusinessimages]

Renting a home is more popular than ever before, with nearly five million homes now in the private rented sector across the UK. The ease of being able to rent a home and move at the drop of a hat has encouraged an increasing number of young people chasing their dream career to wait before they buy their own property, and instead rent their home. 

However, before renting, whether it's for the first time or you're just moving home, it's a good idea to make sure you know exactly what you want, and what you need, from your experience. Here, we take a look at a few key questions you should be asking yourself before you choose your new rental home to make sure you find the ideal place to live. 

What's my budget?

Before you start to look for a new rented property, you need to know what you can afford to spend month-to-month. It's easy to see a listing and fall in love with the house or flat, but if you rent somewhere that costs a little too much, you could end up struggling to make ends meet. Take a look at what you spend on accommodation now, and ask yourself what you can afford to spend so you don't end up out of your depth. 

What's important to me?

When you go to a viewing, you will have the opportunity to not only see the property and analyse if it's somewhere you could see yourself living, but also to dig down and ask the letting agent some probing questions. Take this opportunity so you can really tell if the home is right for you, but also make sure you ask yourself what is going to be important to you as a tenant. Are you looking for fast internet speeds, for example, or does the nightlife nearby really mean a lot to you?

Is it practical?

That area you've just found your dream flat in may well be the hip, trendy part of the city you've always dreamed of living in, but you need to always be asking yourself how practical it is to live in any given place you view. Examples of things to consider is how close it is to amenities (especially for those who don't drive) and how well connected it is in terms of transport to make sure you can get to work easily on a daily basis. 

How long do I want to live there?

Before you move in somewhere, you might also want to ask yourself how long you intend to live in the property before moving somewhere else. If it's a long-term thing, where you intend to stay for a few years, then you may consider looking at somewhere you are allowed to decorate, and where you can bring your own furniture. On the other hand, if you're only looking for something for the next six months to a year, then you can afford to be less picky and go for something that comes fully furnished and ready to go. 

Who am I renting from?

Finally, it can also be a good idea to ask yourself who you will be renting from. For many people, the best option is to rent from a letting agency or property management company, because they want the easiest possible tenancy. While those with a private landlord may have the chance to interact more and conduct their own maintenance, decorating and repairs more freely, tenants who want an easier lifestyle should opt for the efficiency that comes with working with a letting agent or property manager.