At most times of the year there will be a fair number of listings to sort through, especially in a large city, so you will need to be organized and look through the listings carefully.
Make sure that you have an idea of where you wish to live, the price limit that you are willing to pay and how many rooms and bedrooms you need. Then your search will be easier and faster, without wasting any time on places that are not suitable for you.
Have an idea of what part of town you want to live in, especially if you are relocating, Where will your new apartment be in relation to your new job? What are the schools like? Are you going to college and want to live close to it, but it has more than one campus?
What is public transportation like? Even if you can’t get too close to where you will be working and studying, is your new place on the main bus or train routes that can take you door to door without too much hassle?
If you are relocating for a job, don’t be shy about asking for help. The human resource person who hires you is going to be either a local person who will be in the know about the area, or someone who has just moved there herself and can share all she has learned. In many cases she will know a good realtor or broker, or someone who has recently moved and who can help give you the inside scoop.
She might know of someone who rents, or might even be moving herself and can tell you all about the neighbors and the area. In some cases, she might know of people who are looking to rent a room or apartment, so you can have a place to move into right away, and then look more extensively once you get there.
Use more than one website or broker in order to find a range of apartments. Especially with this economy and the house foreclosure crisis, there is a lot more competition to rent since people are not buying or have in fact lost their house, and need to rent.
When you find a listing you like, print it out, and act quickly. Make sure you take notes on each page about the places you see, and ask about how much of a deposit will be required. It will usually be 1 month, but it might be more, so ask first and be clear about any other terms of the rental. Be sure to make notes and get everything in writing.
Once you have made arrangements to visit, be on time, and professional. If they are not, well, buyer or in this case renter beware.
Also be careful of apartments where they admit it needs repairs. Get the items in writing and an agreement that they will be fixed before you move in. Ditto painting the place. You will want everything to be ready when you move in, especially if you have a lot of personal possessions you need to move in.
If the apartment is furnished, this can help you save some money in the short term because you will not have to buy a lot of household items. On the other hand, Ikea and other stores are so cheap these days that you might be better off buying your own.
As for sublets, they can only charge a certain amount extra for the furnishings, usually 10%, so be sure to ask to see the rent bill and then get everything in writing.
We will discuss apartment hunting using apartment search websites in more detail in the next section of this article.