How To Use Craigslist To Find The Perfect Apartment

Craigslist is an amazing resource for everything from furniture to farm equipment, but even if you live in a smaller city, looking for housing can feel like an endless sea of reality companies. We've found our last 5 rentals with our mad searching skills and have always found exactly what we wanted. What's the secret? Details after the jump!

The one thing my husband and I have always looked for in our properties (besides the ability to have pets and running water) is personality. We want a space that fosters creativity and gives us space to do all that we need to. Usually, those aren't the places you see advertised on billboards driving down the side of the road and are a bit off the beaten path. They're not hard to find however, as long as you know what to search for!

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To start, sit down and make a list of all the things you could possibly want in a space, a dream list of sorts. You'll want to include architectural features (big windows, exposed brick) as well as architectural details (unfinished basement, garage). Go crazy, any feature or detail you could possibly want, include. Like fireplaces? Great! Add it to the list.

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Next up on the list is neighborhoods. Many cities have neighborhood names and you can usually list off in order which ones you'd like to live in. If there's some that you aren't against, but they aren't at the top of your list, include them as well. Other key words are parks, lakes. Often times a landlord won't go into details about a space, but they'll at least tell you where it's located.

There's a weird disconnect between what landlords and rental companies actually post on Craigslist. They either only list key words to draw you in (because they think that's what you want to hear), or they post what the space has been used for in the past (would make a great home office or rec room). What they think of a space isn't always what you'll be using it for, so quite often when we're searching for a place with a work space (we do a great deal of screen printing and such that requires room) we look for words that "normal" people use to describe the space. Just because the previous tenant or landlord used the space for a craft room (and lists it as such), doesn't mean that's what you'll use it for -- you just have to search for other words that might utilize the same amount of space.

Last but not least, we search for city landmarks. Some people aren't big on discussing the details and amazing floorplan, but they think saying they're next to a Starbucks or Bob's Big Boy will get them a tenant. The same goes for street names. Often times they won't include a part of town, but will at least include a street the unit is on. So if you really love a certain area in midtown, search for all the street names within 10 blocks of the middle. You'll be surprised what really comes up!

We're rather conflicted when it comes to housing and would love a small house on a few acres in the country, or a loft in an abandoned warehouse. Our search criteria are probably different than most, but if you are looking for space, the words acre, yard, barn, out building, detached garage — they're all good places to start.

If you're really in the market for a place, go down the list of search words each day and you're sure to find the perfect place before the end of the week. Just make sure to click on the "housing" tab at the top instead of wasting your time in individual sections! Our current problem is now finding places we love more than where we're at... oh itchy feet, never satisfied!

Do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more Craigslist tips? Here's a few more:
How To: Search on Craigslist
Tips on Selling Your Furniture on Craigslist
Tips for Furniture Shopping from Craigslist, Catalogs & TV

(Image: George and Sara's Logan Square Look Out)

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Sarah Trover has lived all across the Midwest and currently calls the hot dog-laden city of Chicago home. She rides scooters and seeks out kitchens that make the best pie.

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