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Master The Long Distance Apartment Hunt

Master The Long Distance Apartment Hunt

By Lauren Bayne Anderson

April 29, 2011

If you’re lucky enough to have landed a job or internship after graduation in another city, you’ll need to find a place to live.

As simple as it sounds, it can be tough looking for an apartment long distance. After all, what you see online isn’t always what you get. Here, some help in successfully finding an apartment from afar.

Do Your Research

Ever seen that episode of “How I Met Your Mother” where Marshall and Lilly end up buying an apartment they didn’t realize was downwind of the sewage treatment plant? Don’t let that be you. Convenience, accessibility to public transportation, parking, safety of the neighborhood, and price should all be considerations when looking for a place.

Ask friends and family members who live in the city, for their opinions and suggestions. But remember, everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes. What may be up and coming to one, is unsafe to another. Use the Internet to find out as much as you can about potential neighborhoods. Tons of information, including crime stats, can be found online.

Also, check out My First Apartment’s City Guides.

Where to Look

Some cities make things super easy, like Chicago’s Apartment Finders. They will have an agent work with you personally for free. Other cities don’t offer such a luxury. You can find apartments everywhere from Craigslist, to the local newspapers’ online versions. Google is your friend. Find out where the local apartments are listed and utilize those sources.

Think You’ve Found Something?

Ask for as many pictures as possible of both the inside and outside of the building. Ask as many questions as possible about the residents, crime, transportation, etc. Take the address and do a Google maps search, and check out the neighborhood online from the “street view”. Google the landlord and check with the local Better Business Bureau and License and Inspection offices, to see if there are any complaints filed against them.

Try Not to Sign

In best case scenarios, you should wait to sign the lease until you’ve seen the place first hand. Try to plan a visit, or stay with a friend or at a hotel a week or two before work starts while you finalize your plans. However, this is not always necessary. In the event you have to sign, try to negotiate a clause that allows you to pull out if it’s unsatisfactory or doesn’t meet the description they’ve given you before your arrival. Leases are difficult to break, so if you don’t check out the place before hand, and are disappointed when you get there, you could be stuck for a year.