Apartment hunting can be quite a hassle--throw several
hundred miles between you and the potential rental properties and the
aggravation multiplies. When searching for an apartment isn't as simple as
getting in your car and taking a drive to check out a few places, you must be
twice as careful, prepared, thorough, and dedicated in your search. If you will
be looking for an out-of-town rental in the near future, read on for some useful
tips to make your search a success.
Even if you don't know anyone living in the city,
someone else you know might. Put the word out--tell your friends, family,
co-workers, and post it on social media. You never know who will be able to help
you in your search for the perfect place. Perhaps you are seeking a rental in
New York and your boss's boyfriend's sister is looking for a roommate in her
fabulous Manhattan loft. Asking around is easy and free, and could wind up
introducing you to your dream digs.
Time your search
Not every city puts their apartments on the
market at the same time. New York apartments don't become available until a
month or less before the move-in date. On the other hand, college towns often
begin showing their apartments three to six months in advance. Find out the
standard procedures for the city you are planning to relocate to be sure you
schedule your search accordingly.
Research the neighborhoods
Every city has a variety of distinct
neighborhoods with something unique to offer--before you begin your search, it's
important to determine which area you wish to rent an apartment. Firstly, you
will want to ensure the region you choose is in close proximity to your place of
employment or school so that you will have a manageable commute. You will also
want to find an area with housing that is in your price range and has low crime
rates. Other factors you may want to consider are nearby amenities, such as
shopping, recreation and transportation centers.
Search apartments online
There are numerous websites with
available apartments listed, which will show you rent prices, available
amenities in the building, square-footage of the unit and other details. Many
also show photos of the property, but may not show any images of the specific
unit. When viewing potential apartments online, it's important to secure more
information before agreeing to move in. You should certainly speak with the
property manager on the phone, ask a number of pertinent questions (discussed in
further detail below) and ask to see photos of the individual unit you would be
renting. Be wary of websites such as Craigslist--the anonymity makes you quite
susceptible to scams.
Ask a lot of questions
When searching for apartments online, you will want to call
the property manager to talk about any unit that you are interested in so you
can gather more information. Ask how old the building is, what kind of
appliances the unit contains, how well they function, if the floors are wood or
carpeted, what kind of amenities the building has, etc. Of course, you will also
want to ask detailed questions about the lease--how long is the lease? When is
the rent due? What are the late fees? How much is the security deposit and what
are the conditions for its return? What is the pet policy? Who is in charge of
maintenance for the property? The more you know about the apartment, the
You may also want to ask the manager to send you photos of the
specific unit you will be renting. While you should certainly take a trip to the
city and view any apartment in person before signing a lease, knowing as much as
you can about the unit in advance will help you narrow your options down. This
way, you can spend your visit viewing only the apartments that have really
peaked your interest.
Get an agent or broker
When searching from afar, enlisting the
aid of an agent or broker can be quite helpful. Real estate agents are not only
available for buyers--they can assist you with the renting process as well.
Since you may not have access to the properties because of your location, an
agent can help you weed out undesirable apartments and find rentals that fit
your list of wants.
Take a trip
Before renting an apartment, you should take at
least one trip to the city to view the unit. You should be prepared with a list
of apartments you plan to see, scheduled appointments, all of your paperwork
handy, and a list questions to ask the landlord or property manager. This is
also a good opportunity to scope out the neighborhood and ensure that it is an
area you would be happy living.
Research the complex and/or apartment management company
order to protect yourself from falling victim to a rental scam, make sure you do
a background check on the management company. Check the company's record on the
Better Business Bureau website, and refer to consumer review tools such as Yelp.
Many cities also have published lists of known slumlords in their area. You
should also check property records to verify the true owner of the rental--a
common scam in the industry occurs when an illegitimate landlord falsely claims
to own the property and then disappears with your deposit.
Above all, when searching for apartments locally or
long-distance, it is imperative to be scrupulous. Using websites like Craigslist
can be effective in finding apartment listings, but much more research is
required of you before agreeing to sign the lease. Searching for an apartment in
a distant city requires ten times the scrutiny and caution. You want to make
sure that the apartment advertised is exactly what you are getting, that the
neighborhood is satisfactory and safe, and that the landlord is actually
qualified to rent you the property. Thorough research and attention to detail is
essential to ensure that you can snag a quality apartment while you are still
living hundreds of miles away.