Relocating for work can be stressful enough without having to try and find an apartment to rent as well. You may not know how to find an apartment in a city you don’t live in yet, but don’t worry it’s not that difficult once you know what’s involved.
Arm yourself with these smart tips for long distance apartment hunting, and you’ll soon be crossing ‘apartment search’ off your to-do list.
Be Specific On What You Want
Before you even start long-distance apartment hunting you should figure out what type of apartment you’re looking for. The more specific the criteria you can come up with the better. It will help narrow down the search results once you start looking online. Do you want a studio, a 1 bedroom, or a 2 bedroom? What you can comfortably afford to pay for rent each month? Do you need a pet-friendly building?
Think About Location
Deciding on the location is a little harder if you’re not familiar with the city you’re moving to. Ask friends and family who live there for advice on the best neighborhoods to live in and which to avoid. The internet is also your friend, you can find out a lot about a city’s rental market from online forums and blogs.
How Long Will The Commute Be?
If you know where you will be working, you can use that as a central base for deciding how far away you want to live. If you only want to walk 15 minutes or less to work then check out the nearby neighborhoods, and Google Map the route you’d take. If you don’t mind living further away and taking public transport, consider rush hour traffic and how this will impact your lifestyle.
Use Online Apartment Websites
Once you know what type of apartment you want, how much rent you can afford and a couple of locations you like the look of, then start your apartment search online for affordable apartments for rent that fall within your criteria. This will give you a good idea of what’s available. If your search doesn’t return many results you may need to widen your search criteria by adding a few more locations or increasing the monthly rent.
Schedule a Visit
It’s a good idea to see an apartment in person before you sign anything. If you have time, schedule a couple of days to visit the city and set up apartment viewings. Be sure to take lots of photos and test out fixtures and appliances. This can also be a good opportunity to meet your new co-workers and ask them advice on the best places to rent since they’ll be familiar with the area.
Use an Agent
If it’s not possible to visit in person, then a local real estate agent can help you, though you may have to pay a flat fee of a couple of hundred dollars for their services. An agent can also provide a crash course on the city, as they’ll have local knowledge of the amenities, transport options and recreational activities on offer. A good agent will send you photos of prospective apartments for rent and may even do a video tour of the inside of the apartment and around the block.
Be Prepared to Move Quickly
Whether you’re visiting in person or using an agent, it’s a good idea to have all your documents in order and money for the deposit ready to go. Affordable apartments will be snapped up quickly to find out what information the landlord will expect and have this ready to hand over or give it to your agent in advance.
If you feel it’s too much of a commitment to sign a lease for six months straight off, then consider a short-term option like a sub-let or Airbnb. This takes the immediate pressure off finding somewhere to live and will give you time to settle into the city. You can then apartment search at your leisure on weekends.
This is the safest bet if you’re arriving from out of state without a job, as it gives you the most flexibility. But it does mean that you’ll need to move twice when you find a more permanent place to live.
Once you’ve found a great apartment in a new city it’s time to get organized and start thinking about the process of packing. If your apartment isn’t fully furnished, do you have enough furniture, appliances, kitchen equipment and linen to make your new apartment liveable or are you lacking basic necessities? Take a look at our new apartment checklist, to see if you have everything you need to hit the ground running in your new city.
Angela Pearse is a blogger for Zumper who frequently combines travel with freelance writing. She’s passionate about Art Deco hotels, historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.