Whether you’re looking for your first apartment or your next one, finding a good fit takes a bit of research and planning. But that prep work will pay off in the long run when you move into a place where you feel at home. In this apartment guide are tips and resources to help you find a great match for your needs and preferences.
Determine Your Requirements First
If you take a little time to define your requirements prior to your search, it will make the process much easier. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time looking at apartments that don’t fit your needs. Just ask yourself a few questions like:
- How much do you want to spend on rent? Zillow has a rent calculator that can help you determine your budget.
- Are you open to having a roommate? Sharing expenses with a friend can potentially help you afford an apartment that’s larger or nicer.
- Is there a particular location where you want to focus your search? Knowing your maximum commute distance from work or school will narrow down your search radius.
- What are your must-have and nice-to-have requirements? Make a prioritized list in advance so you can keep a clear head when in the heat of the moment. The NMHC has done research to show what a lot of renters like, but also keep in mind up and coming amenities like smart apartments, pet washing stations and the ability to rent your unit out on a short term basis.
Where to Look for Apartments
If you’re looking to move into a multi-unit complex with amenities, there are many sites like Apartments.com, Rent.com, Apartment Guide, and ApartmentFinder where the larger properties list. Plus, sites that once focused mainly on property sales, like Zillow and Trulia, have also expanded to include rentals.
Owner-listed unit rentals can be a little more difficult to find, depending on the inventory available in your desired market. One of the first places to start is by asking friends and family who live in the area if they know anyone with an apartment for rent. Oftentimes, even if they don’t, they’ll ask around and keep an ear open for opportunities.
Facebook can be a good resource, as it provides several ways to locate an apartment. Facebook Marketplace has added a Housing category where you can filter listings by location and price. There are also user-created, local Facebook groups where property managers can post vacant apartments, and tenants can post what they’re looking for.
Work With a Realtor
Traditionally, people think of realtors when they’re ready to purchase a property. But did you know that some realtors work with rentals as well? Property managers and owners sometimes list their rentals with a realtor so they can fill the vacancy quicker and don’t have to do any of the legwork.
That’s good news for you, since you won’t have to pay any fees or commission. Realtors can also tell you about properties that aren’t listed yet, but they know are going to be available.
Tour and Evaluate Apartments
Now it’s time for the fun part! Once you’ve identified properties that fit your criteria, make appointments to see them. Many apartment buildings are starting to offer unattended showings which let you see a unit at a time convenient for you. Keep in mind that apartment complexes often show models, since there are still tenants in the units that will be available. If possible, try to see the apartments at the top of your list first, since these could result in a quick match.
Again, being organized will make this process easier, since your recollection of the details will start to blend as you see more apartments. Keep notes and consider taking snapshots for each viewing, so you can quickly compare costs, fees, square footage, amenities, availability and what you liked and didn’t like about the property. Also note any “smart” features that could help you decide on your favorite. Something as simple as a connected entry system can become a tool you depend on to tell you when your family comes and goes or if the landlord stops by for a repair.
As you’re looking, you could get lucky and know right away when you’ve found the right apartment. What often happens, though, is you’ll like a few for different reasons and will need to weigh your options. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to ask to see them again to make your final decision. This is going to be your home for a year or more, so you should be happy with your choice.
While this apartment guide provides a quick overview of the best way to find apartments, there are a wealth of resources available online to help you along the way. Knowing what you’re looking for and asking lots of question upfront are key to finding an apartment you love.
Kara Parlin is a writer, editor, and content strategist who has regularly covered business technology during her 20-year career and is currently focused on IoT and remote access technology.