How To: Finding an Apartment in a new City

Moving to a new city can be stressful. Even more stressful is finding a place rest your head at night. If it is your first time living on your own or you’re simply relocating. Finding the right apartment can be a huge factor in a Young Professional’s quality of life early on. Nobody wants to be that "house poor" guy that lives downtown but sleeps on a mattress on the floor. But the guy that lives on the other side of the tracks isn’t always the “go-to” pregame spot either. Here are a few key tips to help someone looking to relocate.

1. Do your research: Research safe places to live, compared to where your job is. Searching the public schools in that area are usually a good indication. If you know someone that lives or has lived in that city, give them a call as well. I have learned a lot about the what and what-nots of apartment living from first hand testimonials.

2. Timing: Apartment rates change throughout the year. Winter months will always be cheaper. Lock in prices as far away from summer months as possible. If you know you’re looking to move in the summer months, most developments know their availability at least 60 days before your moving date. (Some even sooner). Reserving your place before prime moving months is vital. It could save you 50-100 dollars a month easy.

3. Furniture: Furnishing an apartment for the first time can be tough. None of us want our new place to look like a second semester college dorm room. While most of our pockets can’t afford to put out thousands of dollars for furniture either. Scratch and dent warehouses can be a life saver. Here you can get unused, name brand furniture with little or no noticeable defects.Goodwill is a great place to pick up hard surface pieces [nothing lysol can’t fix]. Ikea always has great deals for tables and chairs. Craigslist can sometimes be on the sketchy side, but there are plenty of gems to be found there as well. If you’re financing something at one of these big box stores. Make sure you understand any interest and when or if it increases. Most places have a certain amount of days “same as cash” but you don’t want to owe more money than you need for a starter couch just because you didn’t think to read the fine print.

4. Where the fun is: Sure you can be in the safest neighborhood in the city. We need to keep in mind, you just graduated. Living in the boondocks away from any fun will be VERY depressing. Be cognizant of where young people live and like to go out. These places will usually be a little more expensive, but spending money on gas and parking every time you go out will probably make up that difference you saved per month anyways.

5. Applications and deposits: It cost to apply to these places! Typically 20-100 bucks per apartment. So make sure you know the place you are applying for is a serious option. Deposits are usually a few hundred dollars, if not first months rent. Proof of income is also typical. [Job acceptance letter with expected income for college graduates usually works too].

6. Washer and dryer: This can easily be looked over. If you’re willing to go without having these in your unit, don’t worry about it. If you’re like me, make sure the unit has these already in or connections for you to add your own.

Do your research! Make sure you’re spending time on the internet looking these places up. Use multiple sites in your search [Zillow and are my favorite]. If you can, always walk through the apartments before you apply. There are many deals to be made for those who do their research. Good Luck!