Any basic search will show that most people are very frustrated with their apartment-hunting experience. It’s difficult to find the right place, and it just feels so tedious and inconvenient much of the time. We at Vacancy would like to help ease your pain. Below are some thoughts that will help you find an apartment and lose the headache.
1. Be Prepared BEFORE You Start Your Search.
You need to know what you’re looking for before you begin your search. This will actually take some sit-down time with a pen and paper. You might think you’ll “just know” what you want when you are searching for an apartment, but you’ll surprise yourself once you start listing your needs and wants on paper.
2. Proximity to What You Want
Think about things that you would like that aren’t necessarily going to show up in search results, such as proximity to schools, parks, recreation centers, shopping malls, etc. Decide which of these things is most important to you, and write it down. This may require an extra search and a little extra time, but you’ll be able to narrow your search much more efficiently if you remember to include the uncommon criteria on your list.
Another thing that might not be immediately known is public transportation. If you are moving out to go to school, there’s a possibility that you won’t have a car, or you won’t want to drive a car if you’re going to the big city. You’ll need to do some extra searching and discover where the public transportation would pick you up, and how much it would be for a pass to ride the system. There is a strong likelihood that you can get a special student rate on a bus/train pass.
Another aspect of being prepared BEFORE you start is knowing what you absolutely will not do. Some will call those “dealbreakers.” Make sure you are absolutely clear in your own mind about what you will not do. Write it down. Then, if you see it, you can move past it knowing that it’s a dealbreaker. Of course, as you list your dealbreakers, you’ll need to identify why a certain thing is a dealbreaker and if it really should be. If you’re just being persnickety, you may want to take it off your dealbreaker list.
4. Go Beyond the Apartment Finder Website.
Using an apartment finder is a great idea. It can help you find apartments quickly. However, when it comes time to narrow your options, you’ll want to go beyond the search engine. Dig up some facts about the area you are considering. The internet is a wonderful resource; Don’t limit yourself to one simple search. Search multiple sites, then go find out more about the place. If you are looking at an apartment complex, you may be able to find some reviews on a Google or Google Maps search. That will give you more insight into the location you’re exploring. One big discovery you might be able to make is if people feel safe where they are. If there are no comments, take it as a good sign. People tend to get more passionate about things they disapprove of. They’ll make more of a point to share their piece if they’ve had a bad experience.
5. Go See the Apartment!
If at all possible, take a drive out to the neighborhood. Just cruise for a bit and get a feel for the place. Your gut will tell you more than a search engine ever could. Park by your potential place and walk around a bit. Don’t be a creeper, just take a brief stroll in the open. Trying to look inconspicuous has a funny way of making one look… conspicuous. If you can, meet up with the landlord or the management. Ask them a few questions. You don’t have to save that until you know that you want the place. They don’t like vacant apartments, so they’ll be extra nice to you. And maybe they have one of those “might-be-from-last-halloween” bowls of candy on their desk. Could be your Lucky Day.
You might also want to check out our other post, 3 Things to Know Before Signing an Apartment Contract.”
So, if you needed help finding apartments, these tips should help. And, as always, if you’ve got some other methods that have helped you in the past, post them in the comments below.