- Posting an Apartment for Rent
- The Best Ways to Learn About Real Estate
- Seven Secrets to a Successful Apartment Leasing
- How to Find an Apartment in 30 Days or Less
- How to Contact People on Craigslist About Apartments
Apartment searches can trigger stress and anxiety, especially when you are looking in a big and expensive city like San Francisco. No matter how tight the rental market is, however, you can find the perfect place on your own or with just a little bit of free help.
There are several routes you can take when searching for an apartment. You can do all of the work yourself. You can do some of the work yourself. Or you can let somebody else do all of the work for you. The latter scenario typically requires hiring an apartment finding service. This can be costly, but if you lack time or know-how, local experts can line up places for you to see that fit the criteria you give them. Other services charge you for access to a database of apartment listings, but you need to take care of the legwork on your own. You can do all of the above for free. Find listings. Set up appointments. Meet landlords. The ball is in your court.
Most apartment searches begin on the Internet. In some cities, particularly San Francisco, Craigslist is the major player. You can search listings on Craigslist by apartment size, price and, in San Francisco and Manhattan, by neighborhood. If your city’s Craiglist site does not have a drop-down menu for neighborhoods, you can search by keywords. Other sites, such as Rent.com and Apartments.com, can round out a Craigslist-focused search; however, you might find a fair bit of repetition between sites.
Another rich online source for rental listings is the newspaper’s website. SFGate.com, the site of the San Francisco Chronicle, offers free apartment listings, with a search by neighborhood and unit type.
If you hate computers or simply want to diversify the process of finding an apartment, pound the pavement. The Rent.com website suggests acting “like a local, not a tourist.” If you are moving to a new city or considering new neighborhoods in your current one, skip the sightseeing and traverse a potential neighborhood as you would if you were living there. If you are looking in San Francisco’s North Beach, for example, climbing up to Coit Tower could be fun, but a better use of your time might be scoping out nearby grocery stores, post offices and other amenities.
Word of Mouth
If you have friends in the area you would like to live, ask to keep their eyes and ears open. Just like walking around might make you stumble into a “For Rent” sign that never makes it to sites like Craigslist, a friend might know of an opening before word hits the street. Much like looking for a new job, put out feelers ahead of time. If your current place is owned by an individual landlord or a large company that owns a sizable number of properties, ask if they have any openings besides the one you are about to create.
Are you on the hunt for an apartment?
This can be a really fun experience. But it can also cause a lot of stress if you’re not careful.
Before you start your search, it’s important for you to learn how to find a good apartment. Otherwise, you could end up looking at a bunch of apartments that aren’t going to fit the bill for you.
Want to find out how to dig into real estate in Chicago and choose an apartment? Here are some tips for apartment hunting that will make things so much easier for you.
Begin by Putting Together a List of What You Want Out of an Apartment
What features do you want out of the apartment that you eventually rent? That’s one of the first questions you’ll want to ask yourself when you’re trying to figure out how to find a good apartment.
Are two bedrooms and two bathrooms a must? Do you want something that’s situated in a certain location? Is there a particular style apartment that you would like?
It’s not going to be easy to find an apartment that you love if you’re not 100% sure what you want in the first place. By listing the features that you’d like out of an apartment, you’ll improve your chances of being able to track it down.
Use the Internet to Your Advantage While Apartment Hunting
Many years ago, people used to have to call up realtors and property managers one by one when apartment hunting. But today, they don’t have to worry about picking up the phone almost at all when conducting a search for a great apartment.
The internet has made it possible for people to look at all the available apartment listings in their general area within just minutes. As long as you know what you’re looking for, you can see apartments that will meet your needs and set up showings for them.
Commit to spending a couple of quiet nights at home hunting for apartments online. It’ll be so much fun seeing all of the apartments that are out there for you.
Make Sure You Have Everything You’ll Need to Rent an Apartment
You can spend all the time you want tracking down an amazing apartment. But if you’re not able to qualify to rent it, it’ll all be for naught.
When you find something that you like, you should put in an application for it and include everything that you’re asked for to ensure your application is accepted. You may want to use a trouble free paystub generator to create paystubs that show you’re employed and can pay for the apartment.
Knowing How to Find a Good Apartment Will Make Your Search Simpler
If you don’t know how to rent an apartment, you’re not going to enjoy apartment hunting very much. You’re going to have a tough time finding apartments that will work well for you.
Utilize the tips on how to find a good apartment here to simplify your search. You’ll be able to locate the apartment of your dreams in no time when you put them to good use.
Read our blog for more tips and tricks on finding great rentals.
Looking for an apartment? Here are your go-to sites for finding the right space
Finding an apartment used to mean reading ads in newspapers and driving around town to check out potential places to live. These days, apartment-finding websites make the search easy and convenient. Here are the top 10 apartment-finding sites that will help you select the perfect new dwelling at the right price.
Hotpads: Most Feature-Packed Apartment Finder
Shows you how long the apartment has been listed on the site.
Lots of features on the site.
Filters are more plentiful on some other sites.
During your search, this feature-rich site shows you a map of the area alongside a list view. In the map view, select building icons to see details and photos of specific apartment listings. Photos also include Google Street View.
Built-in search filters include the type of dwelling, price range, number of baths and bedrooms, rental types, and property types. Select from rental types such as regular, sublet, corporate, and room for rent, as well as from property types such as apartment, condo, duplex, house, and townhouse.
If you register with the site, save listings as favorites.
Rent.com: Best Website to Find Apartments Using Filters
Built-in Moving Center supplies free moving quotes based on the size and location of your current apartment, when you’re moving, and your destination.
The selection of apartments is smaller than some sites.
Many listings are for apartment complexes with multiple units available.
Rent.com offers a wide variety of search filters. For example, search for pet-friendly apartments or properties with utilities included in the rent, as well as apartments with features such as air conditioning, washer/dryer, walk-in closets, or disability access.
Many apartment complexes on the site offer virtual tours.
ForRent.com: Best Apartment Finder App/Website for Those Who Crave Details
Offers helpful resources such as an apartment rental checklist.
Most of the listings are for properties owned by large management companies.
This apartment finder provides highly specific information about apartment complexes. Beyond a detailed overview of property features such as pet policies and proximity to shopping, you get a photo gallery, videos, and floorplans with many listings.
A built-in calculator also helps determine how much rent you can afford to pay.
Craiglist: One of the Best Websites to Find Apartments Worldwide
The site includes a decent set of filters. Search by fee/no fee, square footage, pet and smoking policies, wheelchair access, laundry, and parking.
The user interface seems kind of clunky and old-fashioned by today’s standards.
You might come across duplicate listings and some rental scams.
A longtime go-to for apartment seekers, Craigslist offers numerous listings through its local sites worldwide. Many listings are reasonably priced apartments from smaller landlords.
Craigslist delivers a list view, but property owners and agents can opt to post location maps and photo and video tours of the apartment. Dates for open houses are also easy to find.
Although Craigslist doesn’t have its own mobile apps, the site does load on smartphones. Third-party mobile apps are also available, such as CPlus for Craigslist – Officially Licensed, provided for both Android and iOS.
Apartments.com: Best Apartment Website If You’re Bilingual
Using a “Plan Your Commute” search filter, specify the commute time you want from your apartment to your job, be it by driving, walking, bicycling, or public transportation.
Though the site offers neighborhood guides for some cities, these guides aren’t necessarily available for all neighborhoods within those cities, including some with highly desirable rentals.
Available in both English- and Spanish-language versions, Apartments.com provides extensive apartment listings, while also allowing you to be highly specific in your searches. For example, search for cheap apartment rentals, luxury properties, or elevator buildings.
By default, you receive a map view. Use a built-in drawing tool to specify the borders for your geographic search, then turn to a polygon tool to drill down into listings in smaller geographic parts of the overall search area.
Zumper: Most Price-Sensitive Apartment Hunting Site
Has unique search filters, such as the ability to search for Section 8 apartments and short-term rentals, as well as searching by neighborhood within a city.
You can get details about a rental from your search results, but the amount of information varies considerably from one apartment or property to the next.
Zumper is especially sensitive to pricing considerations. The site presents median rental prices for specific cities, for instance, and the map view shows sample prices for rentals throughout a selected area.
9 Steps to Finding an Affordable Place to Live
Miriam Caldwell has been writing about budgeting and personal finance basics since 2005. She teaches writing as an online instructor with Brigham Young University-Idaho, and is also a teacher for public school students in Cary, North Carolina.
Renting your first apartment can allow you greater freedom and flexibility, but if you haven’t done it before, it can seem like a daunting process. It doesn’t have to be. These guidelines can help you find a place that meets both your needs and your apartment budget.
Determine How Much You Can Afford to Pay
Before you even begin looking for your first apartment, determine how much rent you can comfortably pay. Experts differ on the exact percentage of your income that should go to rent, but a commonly cited figure is that rent costs should account for 30% of your monthly income. The Department of Housing and Urban Development considers families who spend more than 30% of their income on rent to be “cost-burdened.”
As you calculate your affordable rent payment, you also need to consider your debt payments, daily living expenses (groceries, eating out, entertainment), and other bills. Take time to review your entire budget before you start looking for your apartment. Ensure you leave enough money to put toward getting out of debt and saving money, in addition to your rent and other expenses.
Find the Area Where You Want to Live
You need to determine the best place for you. This should include factors such as finding a neighborhood you like with attractions and businesses you enjoy. Another major factor in determining the best area for you should be its proximity to your work.
In general, the farther away you are from work, the higher your transportation costs will be. There can be a trade-off here—housing costs typically decrease as you move further away from major metropolitan areas. The savings on rent may outweigh the extra costs of transportation, and living close to a public transportation line can help further reduce transportation costs.
Many apartment-hunting websites and apps allow you to limit your apartment search to a particular area and see the range of rent prices within that area.
Decide Whether You Want a Roommate
After you’ve determined the general price you can afford, decide whether or not you want (or need) roommates. Sharing a place with one or more roommates comes with benefits and drawbacks. You may be able to afford a bigger apartment with more amenities if you share rent costs, but you’re also sacrificing some of your privacy. If you’re used to living with other people, then having roommates might be your preference. For others, roommates can add a lot of complications to their living experience.
You may find that it’s cheaper to split the rent for an apartment with multiple bedrooms, rather than renting a one-bedroom or studio apartment for yourself. Do the math to understand what you’d potentially save, and consider whether those savings make up for the loss of privacy.
Gather Solid References
Many landlords consider credit score most heavily when deciding whether or not to rent the apartment to a potential tenant. As a first-time renter, you may not have a significant credit history to draw from—and that’s where references come into play.
Good references can be key to getting into the apartment you want. You won’t be able to list former landlords as references, but you could turn to the workplace. Your supervisors and managers will be able to speak to your responsibility and your performance on the job. Hearing from a boss at work will also help reassure your potential landlord that you’ll have a steady paycheck for paying rent.
If possible, ask your references to write letters ahead of time. That way, you’ll have them on hand and ready to add to any application.
Avoid getting references from friends and family, if possible, because those references will mean less to landlords.
Start by Looking at 5 Properties
Once you have decided on one or two areas that you want to live in, it’s time to start your search. Look online and in the local newspaper. In hot housing markets, apartments may get rented before the listings go live online, so you might want to walk around the neighborhood to look for any “for rent” signs. Call a few property management companies to find out what they have available.
As property managers begin offering tours to you, stick to just five properties at a time. Otherwise, all the coordinating and tours could leave you feeling exhausted. Even worse, all of the properties start to blur together, and you’ll forget which property had the amenities you liked best. Consider taking pictures of each of the exteriors and interiors so that you can remember the apartments.
Clarify the Cost of Utilities
The last thing you want to do is move into the apartment of your dreams, only to realize that you can’t afford the heat, electricity, and gas bills that come with it. Apartment complexes will cover different utilities, and this can help you save money, but you will likely have at least some responsibility for utilities. It’s important to clearly understand which utilities you will be responsible for covering.
For the utilities that aren’t included in the costs of rent, get an estimate of how much you can expect to pay each month from the broker, landlord, or utility company.
Take Your Time to Make a Decision
Although you may feel pressured to make an immediate choice, you should ideally take at least 24 hours to think about whether or not you want to apply for an apartment. This gives you time to get over the excitement of finding an apartment, so you can soberly consider what it would be like to live there. Consider all factors when making a choice. It’s unwise to go for the first or cheapest apartment you find if the building is rundown or unsafe.
A second-story apartment is safer than a unit on the first floor.
Submit the Application
Once you decide on an apartment you like, then you’ll need to fill out an application, and that will likely come with an application fee. Many applications also ask for permission to run a credit check. If your credit isn’t good enough, the property manager may require a co-signer on your application. Alternatively, you may have to make a larger security deposit. Ensure that all information on the application is truthful and accurate to avoid delays or rejections.
Read the Lease Carefully Before Signing
Carefully reviewing the lease will save you big headaches down the road. The lease is filled with important information, including your responsibilities for the property, and the rules you need to follow while you’re living in the apartment. The lease should be written in terms you understand, but if something doesn’t make sense to you, then don’t hesitate to ask the landlord to clarify. Some renters may even go so far as to run a lease by a lawyer before signing.
Most apartments will require a security deposit payment when you sign a lease. You may also have to pay the first and last month’s rent upfront.
If you know how to find an apartment fast and without losing friends, let’s face it. You are an expert at city living. In a competitive rental market, you have to be faster, smarter, and maybe even a bit cutthroat to capture those prized properties. But how?
Here are a few inside strategies that tilt the deck heavily in your favor (don’t worry, they’re all totally legal). Follow them, and you’ll know how to find an apartment that your friends will drool over.
Seek out lease breakers
Often people will need to get out of their lease quickly because they have to move for work or some other scenario, and so they’re trying to find someone to take over their lease—which could be you! This is a fantastic way to score a great place because of the time pressure.
A good place to start this search is on Flip, a new peer-to-peer lease marketplace that enables people to buy and sell their lease.
“The idea that breaking a lease or subletting is illegal is actually a huge misconception,” says Elias Wehbe, co-founder of Flip. “What a lot of people don’t know is that the law is usually on the tenant’s side in most states. Landlords are obligated to mitigate damages of someone breaching their lease contract by accepting a qualified replacement.”
Look for apartment listings with bad photos
Who would put up bad photos if they were trying to rent an apartment? Surprisingly, more people than you would expect.
“This usually happens when people list the apartment themselves and take their own pictures, or when the listing agent doesn’t hire a professional photographer or stager,” says Collin Bond, a real estate broker at Douglas Elliman. “Bad photos or even lack of photos/floor plans will lead to less traffic to the listing, and this is when a customer is able to capitalize.”
In other words, there could be a gem disguised by those blurry, poorly lit photos.
How to find an apartment with Google
Tried-and-true methods like trolling Craigslist for new listings every day (or hour) actually do work (I got my apartment that way). But if you don’t have all day to spend searching for recent postings, just set some Google alerts.
Please, Mr. Postman
Send me news, tips, and promos from realtor.com® and Move.
“To receive better filtered alerts, include in your search keyword phrases that regularly pop up in listings—like ‘property details’ and ‘schools and neighborhood,’” says marketing communications specialist Rachel Chapdelaine. That will filter out a lot of nonlisting content.
These alerts should be set to include key words or phrases that are essential to your apartment search, such as “patio” or “porch,” if that is a deal breaker for you, she adds. You can also set a website-specific search, by including the term “site:realtor.com” (for example!).
Do neighborhood outreach
People get hundreds of emails every day—which is why the way to stand out in the digital age involves plain old paper.
“Write a short letter/note describing yourself and what you are looking for. Include your profession and where (generally) you live now. Choose the streets you prefer to locate to. Print it off and pop it into the doors of every great-looking, clean house in the area with your contact number,” says Dame DJ, author of “Downsize to Freedom,” who used this technique to score a fantastic flat in London. “You would be surprised how many nice, well-informed, friendly folks will call and know of something to rent nearby.”
Show up with all your forms filled out—and money
Especially in a city with an abundance of people looking for apartments and not enough actual apartments to go around, it is imperative that you act fast and are prepared to do whatever it takes to get the unit that you want.
“Savvy renters ask for rental applications prior to any showings, and they arrive at showings with fully filled out applications, references, credit checks, and deposits so that they can snag the unit before anybody else has the chance to,” says Conrad Pool, president of Sleepwell Property Management. “If you take your time to think about an apartment or spend valuable time trying to negotiate a better deal, chances are that it will be gone when you finally arrive at the conclusion that you want it.”
Kimberly Dawn Neumann, who is based in New York City, is an author, performer, and fitness professional.
Search Cheap Apartments For Rent Nearby
Advice from the Experts to Help You Find the Cheap Apartment that’s Right for You
Of all the factors to consider during the apartment-hunting process, budget tops the list. The key to finding an affordable apartment is balancing your needs with your means. Sounds easier said than done, right? Let the following pieces of advice guide you on your quest for a cheap apartment and set you on your way to an ideal living situation that doesn’t break the bank.
What to Consider When Searching for Cheap Apartments
Before you begin searching, use this formula to set your budget: (monthly income after taxes) * 30%. Landlords use the same formula to determine if an applicant qualifies as a financially reliable tenant. But remember, you’ll also need to cover a few costs upfront, before you even move in. So it’s key to start saving for the deposit, utility set up costs (unless you find an apartment with utilities included), moving supplies, truck rental, etc. in advance. Moving is expensive, but it’s a lot less stressful when you know you still have money in the bank when it’s over. It’s also important to look beyond just the cost of rent when deciding what you can afford. Think about outside expenditures ranging from your daily commute to groceries and how much you spend going out. Weigh out the pros and cons of having cheaper rent, but don’t forget to factor in your cost of living.
Competition for Cheap Apartment Rentals
Affordable apartments don’t stay vacant very long—so when applying for potential places, go above and beyond to stand out from other applicants. In a market where demand is high and supply is hard to find, making a solid first impression can improve your chances of snagging a cheap apartment rental. Come prepared with pay stubs to verify income and employment, recent tax returns, a credit report, references and a checkbook in case they’re ready to sign you right then and there. There are also other outlets that improve your chances of landing an apartment. Try checking for subsidized housing through the government—those with lower-income jobs can qualify to apply for more affordable rentals.
How to Look for Cheap Apartments
If you’re in the market for a cheap apartment, you must be flexible and open-minded during the process. The most expensive apartments usually fall within a prime location (think – close to bars, public transportation and landmarks)—so you’ll probably need to look at neighborhoods just off the beaten path. You might be surprised to find areas just outside city limits that are still in close vicinity to the action, but far enough away that your rent would be significantly lower. You’ll find lower pricing by staying true to what you need and sacrificing some amenities or settling for less square footage. And keep an eye out for move-in specials such as a discounted rent for signing a longer lease. Additionally, consider splitting a pad with a roommate or two. Often times this results in lower monthly rent, a more spacious apartment and indirectly broadening your social network.
Price-Conscious Renters of Cheap Apartments
Cheap apartment rentals call for renters to be reasonable in every aspect of their decisions. Balance the standards of living and really think about what you want and what you need and what you can afford. These questions will keep you focused in finding a cheap apartment for rent and allow you to live within your means as best as possible.
Related Articles and Advice
Read more renter-related tips and tricks
Pros and Cons of Living with Roommates
To have or not to have a roommate, that is the question! Here’s a list of pros and cons to consider when making your decision.
7 Tips for Saving on Moving Expenses
When you’ve got to move on a dime, we’ve got the tips you need to save money on moving expenses.
Creative Ways to Lower Your Utility Bills
Utility bills can sneak up on us and really put a dent in our wallets. Don’t worry, though, there are a lot of simple and effective ways to lower your utility bills, and you don’t even need to try that hard to do them!
Gone are the days when the only place to find apartment listings was the back of a newspaper. Now you can conduct apartment searches of all sorts online, and its almost always packed with additional photos, video, and information.
Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite ways to find apartments . We’ve tallied up the votes and now we’re back to showcase the five most popular tools you use to find yourself some new digs.
Update: This list is now quite out of date, and we don’t necessarily recommend the services on this page. To see a more current collection of the most popular apartment search tools, check out this updated list .
Five Best Apartment Search Tools
Looking for a new apartment or rental used to mean combing neighborhoods looking for “for rent”…
HotPads approaches apartment search in a novel way. In addition to offering the basic city/price searches found in any apartment search engine, HotPads has heat maps. When you search for apartments with HotPads, you can overlay heat maps of various data onto the map like population density, household income, median age, median rent, and foreclosure data. The heat maps give you a view of your future neighborhood that a simple apartment listing can’t. In addition to the heat maps, each listing has a breakdown of how the price of the listing you’re looking at compares to others in the zip code, city, county, and state. You can search HotPads for apartments as well as use it to search for a room to sublet or a roommate to sublet a room from you.
PadMapper / Craigslist
Craigslist is a popular destination among Lifehacker readers searching for apartment listings, but it isn’t the most feature packed apartment listing tool. Fortunately PadMapper takes the spartan listings on Craigslist and aggregates them into a Google Maps mashup. You can search PadMapper just like you would Google Maps, and every pushpin in the map is an apartment listing. PadMapper results can be filtered by price, bedrooms, bathrooms, and pets. If you’re already using Craigslist to do your apartment searching, PadMapper will put an extra zing to your search.
Apartments.com is a veteran of the apartment search field. Their color-coded neighborhood maps will jog a few memories even if you haven’t been apartment searching for some time. They don’t have the flashiest site in the market, but thanks to being one of the original players in the online apartment-search field, they’ve got an absolutely enormous pool of listings. Nearly every listing has a photo tour and a significant number of them have 360° virtual tours. The color-coded maps are quite useful if you’re unfamiliar with the layout of the city you’re browsing in and help you quickly drill down from region to individual neighborhood. Apartments.com also has an iPhone app which combines the listings at Apartments.com with the GPS chip in the iPhone to create a location-aware apartment search tool. Love the neighborhood you’re driving through? Hit a button in the iPhone app and see if anything is available.
MyApartmentMap has quite a slew of features beyond simply indexing apartment listings. You can jump to Google Streetview to check out your new neighborhood, browse an interactive map of local businesses and social spots, and get rental data for your new city and neighborhood to compare the prices of the apartments you’re looking at to the city averages—a rather handy feature if you’re moving to a city with a market you’re unfamiliar with. You can also search by colleges to see listings for off-campus housing surrounding that college in addition to searching by city and neighborhood. If you don’t find anything you like, you can set up email and RSS alerts to be notified when listings that fit your requirements appear. MyApartmentMap pulls listings from Craigslist (like PadMapper) as well as a variety of other online resources.
Pounding the Pavement
As awesome as scouring the internet for a new pad can be, the whole world hasn’t been digitized. That cool little apartment over a garage in a scenic Victorian neighborhood you just love probably won’t ever make an appearance on a huge apartment aggregation site. Sometimes you just have to hit the streets, ask questions, and see what turns up. As we pointed out in our guide to apartment hunting , the greatest apartments often never advertise beyond putting out a “For Rent” sign because they don’t have to; people flock to the best neighborhoods looking for them. Photo by Rodrigo Cayo .
Top Apartment Deals in Atlanta, GA
Find the Best Value for Your Money
Find the Best Value for Your Money
Renting a new apartment should be transparent and hassle-free. Apartment Finder has the industry’s most accurate availability and pricing data to help you find the top deals, the best rent specials, and the true cost of your next apartment.
No more guessing. No more surprises.
No more guessing.
No more surprises.
Take Us With You
Take Us With You
Continue your search away from your desk. Swipe through photos and floor plans with instant access to thousands of apartments nationwide. Download the free Apartment Finder mobile app and take your apartment search on the go.
- Browse large section of rentals
- Get actual availability and pricing
- Save your favorite apartments
- Inquire directly with apartments
About Apartment Finder
Since 1981, Apartment Finder has been the go-to resource for apartment seekers looking to find the perfect place to call home. We specialize in helping renters find great deals and uncover those rentals that provide amazing value for the money. We’re one of the largest and most trusted apartment search companies and we’re proud of the recent awards we’ve won for delivering the best possible search experience:
- Ranked Among the Top Apartment Search Sites in a Study Conducted by J Turner Research
- Winner of the Best Internet Listing Service by Multi-Housing News 3 Years in a Row
- Winner of the Silver W3 Award by the Academy of the Visual Arts
- Named an Official Honoree at the 18th Annual Webby Awards
- Named the Number One Apartment Search Source by SatisFacts Index Two Years in a Row
- Winner of the Silver Award in the 10th Annual Davey Awards
- Named the Best Mobile Website in the 19th Annual MADACS Awards
We’re a member of CoStar Group, the leading information provider serving the multi-family industry. This helps us provide you with the access to the most comprehensive database of current rental rates, availabilities, deals, and specials. Plus we provide you with access to a host of innovative tools including our cost calculators and map-based pricing tools.
Good luck with your apartment search. We hope you find a great deal on a great apartment!