As Someone with ADHD, This Is How I Make Apartment Hunting Easier

published Apr 21, 2022
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Credit: Jessica Rapp

“Look at these awesome apartments I can’t afford,” I thought to myself as I opened a 30th browser tab, signed up for another site’s listing, and downloaded yet another app. As my inbox cluttered, I realized I made little progress in narrowing my search, let alone viewing a unit.

Is this a good time to mention my ADHD?

When I was apartment hunting, what started as “early research” — also known as window shopping — became a last-ditch effort to find the best place I could before time ran out. I ended up moving across the country with a few weeks’ notice and signing a lease sight-unseen, making for the most stressful renting experience I’ve ever had. I’ve learned expensive lessons from these past missteps, but now I have some strategies that make the process easier.

The following is my list of seven apartment search tips given my ADHD, from the beginning stages to the final push of motivation. Hopefully, it’ll make the entire journey much more approachable for you.

Define your priorities by writing them down.

Start by writing down a wish list and evaluating your commute. Then, consider which “wants” are more often “needs” for those of us with ADHD.

For instance, your search may prioritize quiet, distraction-free environments. It might be a good idea to have a keyless entry, since that can be a lifesaver for those of us who have a tendency to lose them. And buildings that make it easy to pay bills online may be essential for last-minute realizations that it’s the first of the month.

Avoid relying on memory and prepare a list of questions for every tour or call you have with a leasing agent that prioritizes what’s on your list. Recording the answers also helps compare your favorite apartments later on, when every option starts to blur together.

Set notifications.

Setting notifications can keep tabs on the must-haves you outlined, making sure that you actually see the listings that fit your requirements — instead of just scrolling through many that don’t. Check out this list of the best rental apps and take advantage of their detailed search features.

Act on impulse (strategically).

Applying to apartments on a whim is one way to waste money on application fees. But you can take advantage of impulsive tendencies by preparing for opportune moments.

Gather misplaced or hard-to-find documents now to avoid panic later. This may include pay stubs, identification, references, and passwords. Also consider viewing units that are similar to the one you want. This allows for flexibility when the ideal rental in that building opens up.

Get an accountability buddy.

Take a friend, partner, or roommate on tours with you. They can help you commit to appointments, be an extra set of eyes for pros and cons, and ease the social energy drain that comes with small talk. Plus, it’s more fun.

Spread the word!

Text your group chat or post on social media that you’re looking for a new rental (and include your requirements). Friends are an excellent resource for finding a place that matches your needs. This may even earn you both a referral bonus.

Not to mention, their firsthand knowledge can be more reliable than online reviews and more transparent than asking management any questions.

Break it up and celebrate wins.

Finding an apartment is a big deal, so you should try to manage it all with tasks that feel like they can be accomplished. Set small goals, like reaching out to one new apartment building each day, and don’t forget to celebrate the progress you’ve made over time. Even gathering all of the documents you need to move is worthy of at least a pat on the back.

Treat yourself.

Motivation to do anything is easier when it’s tied to an incentive, like buying a new TV or adopting a furry friend. Set an end goal for yourself and keep it in mind when the process gets frustrating. And when you do find an apartment, be sure to follow through on it. This is an overwhelming project, and you deserve to treat yourself when the time comes.

Moved in to your new place? Check out Apartment Therapy’s ADHD guide for tweaking your cleaning routine.