A Guide to Finding Your Dream Apartment

Apartment hunting can be stressful. We know this (we are in the moving business, after all). That’s why we’ve put together this short but helpful guide with some apartment hunting tips. We’ll tell you our favorite sites for apartment hunting, what you should be looking for when looking for an apartment (it’s not always obvious), and a list of 10 questions to ask when renting an apartment. Let’s dive in.

What Are The Best Apartment Rental Sites?

First things first, you need to know where to look. The web is littered with all kinds of apartment sites, many of which are subpar at best. Considering you are probably going to be living in your new place for at least a year, you need to make sure you are looking at the right sites. Here are all of the best apartment rental sites that we recommend to our friends and customers:

  • Rent.com — this is an easy-to-use site that compiles strictly verified listing and provides HD photos and 3D floor plans. This is a great site to visit if you are simply wanting to peruse and get a better idea of what you are looking for.
  • ApartmentGuide — if you are looking to dive into the nitty-gritty details, this is where you need to go. ApartmentGuide is an apartment finder with a vast amount of information on just about every apartment out there.
  • Rentals.com — this site helps connect tenants with rental homes and vice-versa. It’s a little bit different from the other sites because it connects you with rental homes rather than apartments. It can be a refreshing change of pace for someone who has grown tired of living the apartment life.
  • LiveLovely — out of all four of these options, you might say that LiveLovely is the coolest kid in school, both stylish and laid-back. This site succeeds at taking the hassle out of apartment finding, connecting you with cool places that you will have no trouble calling home.

What to look for when renting an apartment

We have shown you WHERE to look by providing you with the best apartment rental sites, but now it’s time to discuss HOW. Below you can read more about how to find an apartment.

Knowing what to look for when renting an apartment really comes down to personal preference. Take a moment and pull out a sheet of paper, write down the ten features you would like to have in your next apartment. For example:

  1. Two bedrooms
  2. Pet-friendly
  3. Washer & dryer
  4. Hardwood floors
  5. Quiet neighborhood
  6. Outdoor patio
  7. Walkable distance to a park
  8. Gym room
  9. A ten-minute drive from work
  10. Under $900 per month

Chances are, you won’t be able to find all ten of your top features in an apartment unless you are willing to pay top dollar. So, with that said, cross three features off your list. You should now be left with seven features.

These top seven features are what you can look for while perusing the best apartment rental sites we listed above. Sometimes, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle when considering apartment options. This will help you better stay on track.

Questions to ask when renting an apartment

If you have found a few apartments that meet your top features, you are now one step closer to finding your dream apartment… but, you aren’t quite there yet. You still need to figure out if you and the landlord are the right fit for one another. Below you will find 10 questions to ask when renting an apartment:

  1. How quickly can I expect emergency repairs to be addressed? Leaks and busted pipes happen, it’s important to know how quickly they can be fixed. You don’t want to walk around on the wet carpet for two weeks.
  2. What expenses are not already covered in the rent? Some landlords can be shady and throw random expenses at you, so make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.
  3. Are there any updates you are planning to make to the apartment within the next 1-2 years? One, it’s nice to know you are potentially moving into an apartment that is about be renovated. Two, you may not want to have a unit located near where the renovations are taking place. Try getting some shuteye near a construction site–it’s tough.
  4. Can I sublet my apartment? If you expect your job to take you to another city for 2-3 months, you don’t want to be paying rent for an apartment you aren’t living in. This can also be applicable to Airbnb. In busy cities, some tenants list their apartments on Airbnb and make some nice additional income each month.
  5. How far in advance do you need notice before I move out? Things come up, unexpected moves happen, so just make sure you are prepared. You don’t want to be paying thousands of dollars because of an unexpected circumstance that is out of your control.
  6. Where can I park? This may sound like a little thing, but nobody wants a 5-minute walk to their apartment, nor do they want to pay $250 a year for parking. Be sure you understand the parking policies.
  7. How do I pay rent? Some landlords still live in the stone age and may prefer checks over a direct deposit. You don’t want to be scrambling around trying to figure out how to give your landlord your money nor take the risk of accumulating late-fees.
  8. What determines whether or not I receive my security deposit back? This is a big question because sometimes security deposits can be hefty. You want to be certain you can get back the $1,000+ you put down for your security deposit.
  9. Will you notify me before entering my apartment? Privacy is important, you need to know under what conditions your landlord can enter your apartment.
  10. Can I have guests? Make sure your friends can come and visit you. If your apartment is strict about guests and you plan to have a lot of them, it may not be the right fit.