How to Find the Perfect Apartment in 10 Simple Steps

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We get it: Apartment-hunting sucks. We should know — we started ABODO because we hated apartment hunting and figured there had to be something better than trolling Craigslist all day.

But finding an apartment doesn’t have to be terrible. And it doesn’t have to take forever. Here are 10 tips from the experts at ABODO for a quick, relatively painless — and most of all, productive — apartment search.

  1. Start Early

Don’t rush the process. If you know you’re going to be moving, give yourself at least a month —preferably two — to look for a new place. That way, you won’t feel pressured to take an apartment you don’t love, just because it’s still available.

2. Determine Your Budget

Before you even start looking for an apartment, set a budget. Be honest with yourself about your income, your spending habits, and your savings goals. We suggest following the 50-30-20 rule: 50% of your monthly income should go to living expenses like rent, utilities, and food; 30% to personal expenses like outings, shopping, and dining, and 20% should go to savings. Depending on the cost of living in your area, such a budget might not be feasible — but it’s a good guideline.

3. Determine Your Priorities

What’s most important to you? Price? Commute? Neighborhood? If price is the only factor, you can cast a wide net. But chances are you have other concerns, too. Maybe you want a short commute. Maybe you want to be able to walk to your favorite coffee shop. Take time to really consider what matters most to you about your home.

4. Use ABODO to Search

You knew this was coming. But it’s true: ABODO makes it easy to search for a place. We collect thousands of listings from across every listing service, and lay them out on an easy-to-use map. You can filter by budget, by location, by pet-friendliness — you name it. And you can do it on your phone.

5. Make a List, Check it Twice

Don’t just browse, start a spreadsheet! Stay organized. Create columns for square footage, location, price, amenities… you name it. And when you find a place you like, enter it into the document. (If that sounds like too much work, some listing apps — ABODO included — make it easy to save your favorites.)

6. Set Up In-Person Tours

Just because you can see pictures online doesn’t mean that you don’t need a walk-through. You should always make plans to tour a prospective apartment in person. It’s important to see things for yourself — and it turns out smells, sounds, and other environmental factors don’t always translate to photos.

7. Check for Flaws

On your tour, keep your eyes and ears open. Does the building look well cared for? Are the wood floors in good condition? How are the windows? The locks? Any strange smells? Does the oven work? Do the faucets run? Can you hear a lot of road noise? Take notes on each place you tour. Remember — something that bugs you a little bit on a five-minute tour might be a lot worse if you live with it 24/7.

8. Talk to Current Tenants

You know who really has the skinny on the landlord and the building? Your neighbors. If possible, talk to another tenant in the building and ask them what their experience has been like. You’ll probably get valuable insight into how the landlord treats his or her tenants — and more importantly, you’ll see if the tenants in the building are the type of people you want to share a wall with.

9. Check Out the Neighborhood

Remember, you’re not just renting an apartment — you’re renting space in a neighborhood. Before or after every apartment tour, take the time to walk through the neighborhood. Do things feel safe? Are the lawns and building facades well-maintained? Are there local businesses or community centers? In short, does it feel like a place you’d like to live?

10. Sign the Lease

If you find the perfect place — within your budget, in a nice neighborhood, in a building managed by a good landlord, with neighbors you can at least tolerate — then congratulations! You’ve found your place. All that’s left is to call the landlord and sign on the dotted line. Once you’re done, take a big breath and allow yourself to feel like an accomplished adult for a few seconds. Then start thinking about boxes. Because now you have to move.