3 Rules I Never Follow When I’m Looking for a New Apartment


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Finding a new apartment is a challenging process, if I may put it lightly. Apartment hunters are not only looking for a space that is right for them, but they’re also dealing with all of the trials and tribulations that come with moving out of their current home. There’s also a ton to consider, from a unit’s location to whether or not there’s an in-unit washer and dryer. 

You’ve probably come across rules to follow when moving out and finding a new apartment. Many of them exist for good reason — such as starting early, making a budget, touring a space before you sign a lease, and asking your future landlord the right questions. But there are some generally accepted recommendations that I like to steer clear of altogether. Here are the rules I never follow while apartment hunting.

I never use social media.

When I was moving out of my mom’s house, I thought Facebook and Craigslist would be good places to find potential new roommates or apartment listings. And while I’m sure there have been many people who’ve had great luck using social media to find their next home, it simply does not work for me. I connected with a potential roommate who waited way too long to tell me that she lived in the unit with her baby, as well as numerous creepy guys, and plenty of listings that were too good to be true (and were probably scams). 

While there are definitely diamonds in the rough, the process caused me more stress than I needed. I left every interaction worrying that I might be getting swindled, and the risk far outweighed the reward. In the future when I’m looking for a new apartment, I’m more likely to let my personal network know that I’m searching rather than take to social media. (I ended up finding my current apartment and former roommate through a friend!)

I never limit my search to what’s online.

Searching listing sites can be disheartening. After inputting your basic parameters, price, and location, it seems like there’s never anything available. Then, what is available gets scooped up right away. But there are other units available beyond what you see on Zillow, Trulia, and Apartments.com

It’s a great idea to let your community know that you’re looking for a new place. They may know someone who’s getting ready to move out of their apartment, putting a granny flat up for rent, or hunting for a new roommate. 

On the other hand, you can work with a broker. Brokers will charge a fee, but it may be worth it depending on your needs. They’re in-the-know about what’s about to go on the market — and could find you your ideal apartment before it even hits the major listing sites. 

I never only tour an apartment virtually.

Virtual apartment tours are a really convenient tool and might be well worth your time to see if a unit is a good contender. However, they are inherently limited and will rarely give you a full picture as to what life would be like in that space. Unfortunately for folks moving in a pinch, it’s the only option available. But if you can tour an apartment in person, it’s highly recommended to do so. 

When I moved from Long Island to San Diego, I was adamant about not signing a lease on a place I hadn’t seen in person. So I stayed in an Airbnb for my first month in San Diego, which allowed me to tour places IRL. Airbnbs and short-term rentals may cost more upfront, but to me it’s worth it to spend a little more money rather than signing a year-long lease on an apartment only to realize it’s not right for you.


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