How to Look for a Rental Apartment when Moving to a New City

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You just decided to move to a new city for work or school, and you’re excited about the future, but there are some big challenges ahead: renting an apartment in a virtually unknown place and managing the long-distance move.

You need to find a suitable apartment that’s within your budget, reasonably close to your job (or school), and do that in a city you don’t know much about. Also, you might have to rent the apartment sight-unseen, which can be terrifying. It’s completely normal to feel stressed about the situation, so here are a few tips to help you deal with it.

SET UP A BUDGET

 

Estimate how much you can afford to spend on rent and start your search from there. Paying more for an extra bedroom, a better neighborhood or better amenities is tempting, but it might damage your finances in the long run. Decide what’s essential for you and where you can compromise.

Take all factors into account. For example, if one apartment is slightly over budget, but allows for a short/public transportation commute, it makes financial sense. You’re spending a little more on rent, but saving money on gas, while also having more time to yourself.

RESEARCH THE CITY’S NEIGHBORHOODS

Select a few neighborhoods where it would be convenient to live, particularly when moving into a big city. Searching for an apartment in a mega-hub like Los Angeles, for example, is an almost impossible task. Decide on neighborhoods first - it makes the mission more approachable.

Pin your workplace or school on Google Maps, and navigate online to discover the nearest residential areas. Check out commute by car, public transportation, or by foot. Search on local forums, websites, newspapers, and social media and discover more about each neighborhood: safety, places to shop, places to eat, parks, schools for your children (if needed), and so on.  Find out the average rent for each neighborhood. Take all those factors into account when searching for the new apartment.

USE ONLINE TOOLS

 

 

Real estate listings websites and apps are your allies when it comes to finding an apartment in a new city. These online tools allow you to use a multitude of search categories, such as price, apartment size, or area, and generally make the job a lot easier. Use only established rental websites and apps with listings that check out and are up to date.

Some of these apps and websites have very useful features, like showing you on a map where each apartment is located or allowing you to define the search area yourself. Many also provide photos and the layout of the properties listed and allow you to contact the lender directly, saving precious time.

USE THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

There really is a Facebook group for everything. Use the power of social media to help you find an apartment. Post about it on Facebook, Twitter, or any other type of media you are using. Who knows, some of your friends might have other friends living in the same city where you intend to move. They can offer suggestions, advice or even to rent you an apartment.

Review websites such as Yelp also provide important information. Check out ratings for the apartment buildings or residential complexes in your area of interest to get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

TALK TO YOUR COMPANY OR YOUR SCHOOL

If you’re moving to a new city for a job or for school, your employer or university might have contacts and resources to help you find an apartment for rent. Talk to the human resources department of your company or the student housing service of the University and inquire if they can provide any type of assistance.

PUT UP AN AD IN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER

Local newspapers provide a treasure trove of information that a lot of people overlook. Don’t make the same mistake. You might find a gem or two in the classified ads of local newspapers, while the actual news will tell you more about the best neighborhoods, best schools, best shopping areas, and so on.

You can also pay for a classified ad in the print edition of the local newspaper. Small landlords, especially if they’re over a certain age, don’t list their properties or look for tenants online. You could find a great apartment this way.

SPEND A FEW DAYS IN THE NEW CITY

 

Nothing beats spending a few days in the new city before making the big move. You’ll be able to walk the streets, see every neighborhood for yourself, check out distances, routes, and decide which areas are convenient for your lifestyle. Even if it’s just a short weekend stay and you don’t have time to visit many apartments, it’s still helpful to check it out with your own eyes.

IF IN DOUBT, TAKE A SHORT-TERM LEASE

Maybe you’re not quite sure about the apartment you want to rent, and you didn’t have time to travel to the new city to see it for yourself. In such cases, get something short-term (six months, or even three-months) and start looking for something more permanent once you’re there.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

Before signing your lease, especially if you’re renting sight-unseen, read every word on the contract and make sure you understand it. Be cautious and back out if anything seems suspicious. Check out your lender, at least online. You can also do that through the Better Business Bureau or the local Chamber of Commerce, if the lender is a company. When using a real estate agent, ask beforehand about fees and commissions, and search for online reviews of the agency.

Moving to a new city is no walk in the park, but hopefully our advice will give you a head start and will make the entire process just a little bit easier!


 

Author bio:

Maria Gatea is a creative writer for RENTCafe.com, with 15 years of experience. Maria has always had a keen interest in all the things that have an impact on people lives. Focusing on real estate, on how people live and where they live, was a natural transition. Maria holds a BA degree in Journalism and Communication. 

 

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