Archive May 2017

Finding apartments online

Figure out what your budget is. Before you think about what kind of apartment you want, you need to realistically consider how much you can spend. Take your usual income, then subtract your cost of living including food, socializing, shopping, and anything else you typically spend your money on. When you see how much money you can realistically spend on rent, you can more effectively start searching for an apartment within your means.[1]

  • Most renters spend about 25-30% of their income on housing expenses, so keep this in mind when drawing up your financial plan. Remember that this includes not just the rent, but utilities and renters’ insurance as well.[2]
  • Also consider the cost of your daily commute. Will you take public transit? If you drive to work, will you have to pay extra for a parking spot?
  • There are also starting costs to renting an apartment. Usually you’ll have to put down a security deposit. You’ll also be charged more if you own a pet.
  • If you’ll have a problem affording rent, splitting the costs with a roommate is an option. Make sure, however, you sign a roommate agreement spelling out what each occupant is responsible for, like share of the rent, chores, guest policies, etc.[3]
  • For more tips on drawing up a budget and saving money, read Budget Your Money.
Prioritize the amenities in your apartment. Having a clear idea of what you want out of your apartment will help narrow your choices down when you start searching. Ask yourself what is most important to you. A washer and dryer? A view? More than one bedroom? The things that you consider important will help determine which apartment you eventually choose.[4]
Decide on a location. Location directly affects you whenever you’re considering where to live. It determines price, safety, the convenience of your commute, and so on. Always investigate a neighborhood before moving in.[5]

  • Look at Google Maps and see what conveniences are nearby. Are there stores, restaurants, gyms, etc.? If these things are important to you, you’d want to find out what’s in the area.
  • Some real estate websites offer safety assessments of neighborhoods. Try something like the Trulia neighborhood map.
  • Local police precincts also usually have reports on their websites about local crimes. Try following precincts on social media to see if there are regular crimes reported in the area.
  • Visit the area if you can. See how it is at different times of day to get a feel for the neighborhood and see if you could live there.
Post your apartment search on social media. Before randomly searching around sites, you could see if someone in your social network knows of an apartment up for rent. A personal reference is always a good way to go when looking for an apartment. While in the past your potential network of people to ask was limited, the internet allows your request to reach hundreds or thousands of people. You never know who has a friend or family member looking to rent out a room in their house.[6]

  • Make a post that you’re currently searching for an apartment and looking for any personal references. Make sure to say in the post that any leads should message you privately.
Contact the landlord directly. Don’t only rely on a website or even email. Speak with the landlord on the phone when investigating apartments. This will ensure that you know who you’re dealing with and make it easier to see if everything is legitimate.[12]