Moving time – some love it, most hate it, but we all have to do it on occasion. If it’s that time for you and you’re looking for an apartment, here are 5 apartment search tips to make the hunt a little easier for you.
This one isn’t really a tip, since it’s what most people are planning to do anyway. Nonetheless, some people reading this might be old enough to remember searching for apartments for rent in newspapers and other print classified ads. If you’re thinking you’ll do that this time, I’m going to suggest saving yourself some hassle and start your search online. There are several apartment websites that can help you find apartments and houses for rent, like Apartment Finder, Apartment Guide, and Zillow.
1. Know What You’re Looking For
Before you get started with your search, you should have a good idea of what type of place you want. House or apartment? How many bedrooms? How many baths? Make a list of what you want. You might want to divide that list into the “essentials” and the “nice-to-haves” so that you have a good idea of what you can do without if the price or location is right. Most apartment locator websites have checklists so that you can search for only the apartments that match your needs – a big timesaver.
2. Know Your Budget
Any list of tips on how to find an apartment would be incomplete without mentioning budget. Your budget is of course a large component of what you’re looking for, so decide in advance what you can afford and don’t look at anything above your budget. A good guideline is no more than 30% of your income, but you’ll need to look at what your own monthly expenses are and adjust your budget accordingly.
3. Decide Where You Want to Live
If you’re moving locally, you might already have a good idea of where you want to live. Otherwise, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the area. There are a number of things to consider. For many people, safety is at the top of the list, but other things to look at are schools in the area, local amenities, traffic, freeway accessibility, and more.
This is one step where experiencing your candidate neighborhoods in person is really the best way to get a feel for them, though there are a few websites that can help. Walk Score lets you see how “walkable” a neighborhood is. AddressReport gives a more detailed report. You can also use Google Maps and use the satellite view; in many areas you can zoom in close enough to “walk” the streets virtually. If you can’t visit in person, this will at least give you a place to start.
4. Start Your Search Early
Not too early though. You want to give yourself enough time to find a place before you need to be out of your current place, but you want to be sure your new home will be there and available when it’s actually time to move. Also be aware of the time of year, since rental properties tend to fill up faster in certain months. In general, May through August are the busiest months for rentals, though you should think about whether there might be seasonal residents of the town you’re going to be living in. College towns definitely have seasonal residents; also, some warmer parts of the country are known for “snowbirds” – usually retired people who move to a warmer area for the winter.
5. Act Fast
When you find the apartment you want, be ready to make a move. Get your paperwork together before you visit. You’ll probably need:
- Photo ID
- Proof of employment – recent paystubs will work
- Your Social Security number
- Recent tax return or bank statement
- List of references, with contact information
- Your car information – make, model, and license plate number
- Your checkbook
A little note of caution; don’t allow yourself to be pressured. If you really want the apartment, though, apply right away.
Now that you’re armed with these tips, you should have a good idea of how to look for apartments, and to find the perfect place for you.
Once you get settled in your new apartment, it’s time to make sure you and your valuables are protected. Freeway Insurance can help you choose a renters insurance policy that fits your needs and budget. Request a free renters insurance quote online or over the phone at 800-777-5620.