Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finding an Apartment in the City

Having had lived in almost 6 apartments since I've lived in Chicago, apartment hunting can be both fun and a pain in the ass! Between finding the right apartment for the right price in the right neighborhood, you also have to go and see about 5,000 apartments and make sure you have all the requirements needed to get in smoothly. And this is just to RENT! So what methods are the best ones to use to find an apartment and move as seamlessly as possible? Here are a few tips that I have learned that might be of some help.

Make a list. 
Whether you are upgrading to a bigger or downgrading to a smaller apartment, write down what it is that you want from your place. Want a two bedroom with a dishwasher, close to parks for $1000 write it down! I have a good friend who believes that if you write something that you really want down on paper that it makes it more likely that it's going to happen. 

Find a neighborhood that inspires you. 
It is easy to find an apartment is a less popular neighborhood with cheaper rent but that shouldn't stop you from looking in your ideal neighborhood first. If you have an area in mind that will be good for you and your family look around their first and see if there are any apartments that are available. A lot of times buildings are privately owned and you might be able to either work down the price or get first dibs if you talk to management.

Utililze Craigslist and other apartment finding websites.
With postings going up almost every minute of the day there are many options to searching for an apartment on Craigslist. Another benefit to looking on CL is that you can narrow your searches down to prices, apartment size and area. When we were looking for an apartment we went to Apartment People and not only did they look for places with the requirements that we wanted but they also drove us to them, baby and all. There is also sites like and

Don't be afraid to sublet.
If you are trying to find something quick or am having a hard time deciding on the perfect neighborhood, check to see if someone is subletting their apartment. Many times someone is either moving out of state or the owner had someone who needed to break their lease and they want someone to live out the rest of the year. In those case you not only get to see what the area is like for a few months before you decide to resign you can also get in pretty quickly. 

Research, research, research.
Want to know where the closest grocery store is?  Curious about local schools and day-cares? Want to see how safe your neighborhood is? It's all in the research. There are many websites that can help you find the information that you need to make sure you are moving to the best neighborhood for you and the kids. WalkScore is a great website that shows you all the places that are close to address you wish to live at and how walkable it is. It's scary to think of how dangerous your area is but it's better to know than to not know. There is also Family Watchdog which is meant to keep you aware of local offenders.

Go for a nice walk.
Sometimes apartments are listed on the internet or in newspapers and just have simple for rent signs. Most likely there are people who just put out the sign and haven't even had a chance to post the listing yet so you will have the advantage of seeing the apartment before anyone else. Additionally, if you are neighborly and just walk through the neighborhood there is a chance that you will meet locals and they might know of something or have a place themselves for rent. 

Happy Hunting!