For many apartment dwellers, moving from place to place is as routine as doing the taxes. But no matter how often you have moved in your life, finding an apartment can be a difficult task, especially if you are changing cities or parts of the country. Not only that, but it is a major decision this is the place you will spend the bulk of your time for at least the next year, and you don’t want to settle for something you don’t love just because you didn’t know how to look. With the right strategy, though, it is possible to find a perfect apartment no matter the situation.
Before you even begin to look at apartments, it is wise to sit down and plan out exactly what you are looking for. What would be your ideal apartment? Are you the type who loves cozy, vintage places in an older building, or do you like the idea of sleek, modern high-rises with all the amenities? What about the neighborhood? Think about the apartments you’ve had in the past. What did you like about them? Hate about them? Jot these things down. This will help you get an idea of what sort of place you want to see even before you begin apartment hunting.
There are several ways to locate apartments for rent. The most prevalent though not necessarily the most effective way of doing this is to go to an apartment rental or real estate agency. The advantage of these agencies is that they maintain listings of all the apartments they are contracted to rent or manage, and can show you a large number of apartments in a short amount of time. This is great for people who don’t have the time or energy to search for apartments on their own, or are looking for more generic, professionally managed apartment complexes.
There are a few disadvantages to agencies though one is that some of them charge a so-called finder’s-fee for locating the apartment for you. In some cities this can be the equivalent of a month’s rent, a pretty hefty price tag for a convenience. A second disadvantage is oftentimes gems of apartments don’t get listed with realtors, especially if the apartment is in a house or group of flats owned by an individual landlord. So, although it may be to your advantage to see what realtors have to offer, you should explore other options as well.
One of the easiest ways to find an apartment is to look through the local and online classifieds. This requires more work on your part, but can yield some terrific finds. Many times owners don’t want to pay a management or rental company to show their apartment, and simply place ads in the newspaper. Of course, nearly everybody makes their apartment sound perfect, but if you have the time and you should make the time, since this is going to be where you live it is worth calling up these ads and making appointments to see what they have to offer. Remember, if you know what you’re looking for, you can often know within a few minutes if the place is not right for you.
Another advantage of the classifieds is that you may come across ads from people who are trying to get out of a lease or are willing to sublease. Subleasing can be a great option if you are moving during a dormant time of the year for apartment rentals, and can net you some big savings for the duration of the sublease. Better yet, if you love the apartment, you will have the first crack at renting it when the lease comes up the next year. Frequently people trying to sublease their apartment are willing to give it to you for considerably less than the rental payments just make sure that sub-leasing is allowed in the lease and that you sign a contract with both the management company/landlord and the original lessee to protect yourself from any potential legal issues.
In addition, the classifieds are where you will find ads for people who need roommates. This can be a great option for people who are moving to a new city and can’t afford to live on their own. You are splitting the costs with others, and because of this, you can oftentimes live in a much nicer apartment than you would have been able to otherwise. Of course, living in roommates is not for everybody, so consider it carefully before moving in with somebody you don’t know.
If the rental companies and the classified prove fruitless, you can always find an apartment in an old-fashioned way: walk around the neighborhood and look for Rent signs. This works particularly well if you live in a city not only can you possibly stumble across the perfect apartment, you get a feel for the various neighborhoods and whether or not you would be comfortable living in them. While on your walk, go into the local coffee shops, Laundromats, and grocery stores, and see if they have any bulletin boards where people can post apartment listings.
Finally, simply talking to people is a surprisingly effective way to find apartments. Ask coworkers, friends, and neighbors if they know anybody in the town you are moving to, or, if you’re staying in town, anybody who might be looking for a tenant or roommate. If you do make a connection, contact that person and explain to them that you’ll be moving soon, and would appreciate it if they had any advice about finding an apartment, or what neighborhoods might be a good fit for you. Most people are more than happy to help out others, especially since they’ve most likely been in the situation themselves at one point or another.
Locating a new apartment is the most important part of moving. It can seem overwhelming, but if you know exactly what you’re looking for, and explore all of the options above, you will have no problem finding the perfect apartment.