Top Tips for Long-Distance Apartment Hunting

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Top Tips for Long-Distance Apartment Hunting

Ramona Branson · Oct 30, 2018

A woman drinking coffee and surfing the web for long-distance rentals.

Finding a new place to live is never easy. Add distance into that equation, and it becomes an entirely different ballgame. Although hunting for an apartment from another city is not an ideal situation, it can still be done efficiently and effectively with the help of modern technology and a willing landlord or property manager.

Whether you’re moving for work, a partner, or family, it’s important that at the end of your search you have a happy, safe, and clean space to live in.

Here are five tips for making that long-distance apartment hunt a lot easier on yourself.

Do Some Heavy-Hitting Research

Because you aren’t familiar with your new city yet, it’s crucial to do plenty of research to learn about its many neighborhoods and dive deep into their crime rates, school rankings, corner grocery stores, and everything else they have to offer. Of course, nothing can substitute taking a look at a city in person, but you can still cover a lot of ground by doing some prior research online.

Ask a Friend

Is there a friend or future coworker in your new city who would be willing to show you all its ins and outs? Having an inside guide like this will save you time and effort as you try to scope out a new place to live. They can steer you in the right direction and help you avoid places that may be a far commute from you or aren’t quite the vibe you’re looking for.

Have an Idea of What You Want — but Be Flexible

When you’re looking for an apartment long-distance, it’s important to know exactly what it is you’re looking for so you can quickly narrow the options down. You should know, for example, if you’re looking for a one or two bedroom, whether or not you want a traditional garden apartment, or if you’re looking for something more like a warehouse or loft-style unit. You should also know about how long you’re willing to commute by both public transportation (if available) and by car.

Decide on one or two things that you absolutely won’t be able to compromise on, like square footage or commute time, but be willing to bend on the other factors. Having a bit of flexibility will make for a much easier apartment search.

Plan for an Apartment Hunting Trip

Although it is possible to secure an apartment completely at a distance by looking through listings and applying online, it’s always better if you can schedule a quick apartment hunting trip over the course a weekend. Scheduling a trip to your new city helps you ensure that everything is as advertised and that you truly do like the space.

As soon as you know that your move is coming up, set aside some savings to pay for a flight or gas for a road trip out there.

Before arriving in town, you’ll find it useful to come up with a game plan for the length of the trip. It’s possible that listings will come up while you’re in town, but you should at least have a few showings scheduled beforehand so you don’t spend most of your time searching for apartments and making phone calls.

Because you’ll be in town for a short period of time, it’s crucial that you schedule as many showings as possible while you’re there. Give yourself at least 30 minutes between each appointment so that you have plenty of time to get there, find the office, and see the entire unit.

As you go through each apartment, take photos and ask as many questions as possible. Write down any distinguishing features about each place. You’ll be seeing a lot of different apartments ideally, and they’ll have a tendency to blend together if you aren’t careful to take notes or photographs.

Lastly, be prepared to sign a lease while you’re in town. This means having all of the necessary paperwork on-hand, including landlord recommendations, paystubs, and even co-signer information if applicable. It’s a good idea to travel with a laptop or a tablet when you’re on an apartment hunting trip so you can have easy access to all these documents.

Know That It’s Not Permanent

Looking for an apartment from a distance can be a bit of a risk because you don’t know exactly what neighborhood you’ll be moving into or if you’re going to love your unit —especially if you sign a lease sight unseen.

However, the beauty of renting is that nothing is ever permanent. If you don’t like your apartment or if the location just isn’t working for you, remember that your lease will be up in about a year, allowing you to revisit your living situation once you know the city a bit better.

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