5 Tips for Finding an Apartment in a New City
Moving to a new city is an exciting and intimidating process for a number of reasons. Learning a new city, getting used to a new job, adjusting to a new climate and meeting new people can all feel a bit overwhelming at first. But perhaps the most difficult hurdle in moving to a new town is finding that first apartment. So, to help you settle in to your new home, here are a few tips on making the big move:
1. Learn the neighborhoods
In any city, each individual neighborhood comes with its own unique personality, and its own set of pluses and minuses. So, the best way to begin your search is to do as much research as you can into each neighborhood, looking at everything from average rental prices, to the length of your commute, to the local dining scene, etc. From there you should be able to narrow your options down to two or three areas that meet your criteria. After that, the best thing to do is actually visit these neighborhoods in person. This might not be possible depending on your circumstances, but if you can do it, getting out there and spending some time in your prospective neighborhoods is the best way to get a real feel for what life might be like if/when you make the move.
2. Ask the locals
If you already have friends and family in the city, they can be excellent resources for navigating your new real estate landscape. If you don’t know anyone in town, you might want to try reaching out to your new employer. They’ll at least have tips on areas that will be convenient for your commute, and might even be able to hook you up with a reliable realtor.
3. Read like a local
Another great way to get a feel for potential neighborhoods is to subscribe to local publications, weekly newspapers and regional magazines. The more localized the better. This will give you a much deeper understanding of the local culture, the local economy and the general make-up of each individual area of your new city.
4. Look into short-term options
A lot of people don’t have the extra time and money it takes to visit the city and scope out potential neighborhoods. In this case, your best option is to look for short-term rentals. Whether it’s a month-to-month rental agreement, or a sublet, or a friend’s couch, this will give you an opportunity to learn the city and take some time to find exactly what you’re looking for without getting stuck in a year-long lease.
5. Don’t sign before you see
The stress of apartment hunting in a new city can make it tempting to jump on the first rental that you like just to get the search over with. This means that some renters settle for apartments they’ve only seen online. But, we all know how online profiles can be deceiving, so signing a rental agreement sight-unseen is like rolling the dice. Ask the landlord if they will allow you to wait until you can visit the place before signing. If not, it might be possible to negotiate a clause in the lease that allows you to back out within a specified amount of time if the apartment isn’t as advertised. If the landlord doesn’t want to work with you on this, that’s a red flag, so your best bet is to just move on.
The key with moving to a new city is patience. If you get over-eager and jump into a year-long lease before you’re 100% sure, you might end up regretting it. Take your time, be diligent, and before you know it, you’ll be settled into an apartment that’s just right for your needs and lifestyle. Happy hunting!