When you’re first getting out on your own, it’s an exciting but extremely challenging time of life. You discover bills and fees you didn’t realize existed, but you also get to enjoy all the freedoms that come with adulthood. A big part of that experience is finding a place to live, which isn’t easy if you don’t know what you’re doing. To make things easier on yourself, use these steps so you can end up in the place of your dreams.

Talk with the people you know

It’s never a good idea to go into any situation where you’re not only on your own, but under-informed. If there are people in your life who have been where you are now, it can’t hurt to ask them how they figured things out! Speak with your friends and family about their apartment-hunting experiences or what they discovered when they looked for their home. They’ll have stories that’ll help you avoid situations you’d rather not have to go through yourself.

Come up with your list

Looking for a place to live is one of the best times to come up with a pros and cons list. Create one for each type of living space — apartments and houses — to figure out which is best for you. Think of things like your budget and what you need in a living space, then add on any desired amenities, like apartment complexes that have an onsite gym or a house with a fenced-in backyard. Once you’re done, your lists will help you decide which one you should look for.

Mind your manners

Be respectful and polite when you’re touring someone’s home or apartment, much like if you were visiting at a party or dinner. Before you meet with your real estate agent or potential landlord at your first location, read up on house-hunting etiquette so you’re not unprepared. It’ll save you from awkward bathroom trips and renegotiating conversations that might happen too early.

Arrive prepared

Apartment hunting isn’t a whole lot easier than house hunting. If anything, it’s harder, because you don’t have a real estate agent by your side to help guide you. That’s why you should make sure to do your research ahead of time on things like budgeting, common amenities that make apartment living easier and factors to consider before you sign a lease. Bringing a friend can also be a helpful way to get a second opinion.

Know your credit score

Depending on your situation, you may never have had to think about your credit score before, but it can affect where you end up living. Certain apartment complexes look for scores to fall within a specific range when accepting someone as a renter. You’ll need to know where to get your score if you’re buying a home, too, so you can qualify for loans. If your score is low, you may have to wait a while to build it back up before moving out on your own.

Even if it’s your first time moving out and looking for a place to live, you can still house-hunt like a pro. Talk with the people in your life and bounce ideas off of them. Read up on everything you can online, and make sure to check your credit score. Remember, you’re not in this alone! There are friends, family and real estate professionals out there ready to help with any questions you might have after you read up on tips online.