Post # 1
We’re in the midst of our third year in a row apartment hunting. The first year R and I lived apart, I had a roommate but she was moving from a different state and I had to do all the hunting myself. I ended up going through free services which was a huge mistake; they had a poor, overpriced selection.
So the next year I just did online searches and knew more what I was looking for. We split the rent four ways (R & I pay half, my roommate from the year before and her boyfriend pay half) so we were able to get a really nice apartment in good neighborhood for a fairly reasonable rent. Plus, we signed early and got a month free pro-rated.
This year is proving to be difficult. We’re searching for a large studio or a moderately sized one bedroom with a dishwasher, air conditioning, and hardwood floors that is cat and dog friendly. I’ve Craigslisted the heck out of places, and only come up with three or four possibilities. We’re looking in about four or five neighborhoods even though we love where we’re currently at, just to broaden the possibilities.
Any hidden tips for finding a gem in a city with sky-high rent prices?
Post # 3
I know a bit about apartment hunting in a city with sky-high prices.. Been renting in Boston for the last five years. My biggest tip is to find an agent that you trust. Ask friends in the area who have good references and look online. When looking at the overall value of each apartment, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Sometimes utilities are included. Is laundry in the unit? Some landlords will pay part of or all of the agent’s fee (usually one month’s rent). Is it rent-controlled? One apartment I lived in increased the rent over $300/month after we (one roommate and I) had lived there for 16 months. Otherwise, take a lot of pictures at each place you view, I often found it hard to remember which apartment had the huge closet in the hallway or the new fridge, etc.
Anyway, good luck! And try to have fun.. moving is fun!
Post # 4
Thanks! I honestly hate moving at this point, because when I lived with my parents they moved us to 8 different houses. So at this point, I just want to settle down! But that’s not conducive to our life yet, so it’ll be awhile.
My general problem is less with balancing out what makes an apartment a good deal, and more about finding places. Maybe our budget is just too low for our expectations, but I always have this feeling like there must be somewhere I’m not looking. I’ve written down phone numbers off for rent signs before, but I always find it much easier to weed through the ads online where they have all the information listed.
Post # 5
Do any of your friends live in apartments you like? I know a lot of people who have found their current places by getting an “in” with a good landlord through their friends.
Also, I feel your apartment-hunting-in-Chicago pain. Our current apartment is really nice but in a boring area. It’s great having a ton of space, but it’s a pain that getting anywhere fun takes 45 by CTA. And stay away from MTD Property Management. They are terrible.
Post # 6
I always look online and make up a spreadsheet with everything we need/want and the bonuses offered. Sometimes the ‘bonuses’ allow you to get a place higher in your budget range. For example, my friends moved into a place that was more expensive than what they wanted to pay, but parking was included and it also had a gym, so they put their gym membership and parking budget into their rent budget. Plus, laundry was included ensuite so they didn’t have to worry about paying extra money for laundry.
I’d definitely agree that online is a good place, but also check out buildings where your friends live. They can give you all the info about the bad stuff you normally aren’t told, and also the good stuff they like.