How To Apartment Hunt in Another City Without Breaking the Bank

How To Apartment Hunt in Another City Without Breaking the Bank

Brittney Morgan
Sep 11, 2016
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You've just landed an amazing job in another city, but as soon as the excitement subsides, you realize that means you have to move. Apartment hunting is never easy, but searching for your dream home across state lines can feel more like a nightmare.

Moving to another city definitely won't be a piece of cake, but it doesn't have to be a disaster. Here are some key survival tips for searching, viewing and signing a lease on an apartment when you can't just hop in the car and meet a broker or landlord, without spending a ton of money.

Go Beyond Broker Sites

Even though brokers can be helpful when you're trying to move long-distance, their services can be incredibly expensive. Unless you can find a no-fee or low-fee broker to help you find your dream home, you'll have to turn to the internet for help. There's always Craigslist, but you might also find that there are highly useful apartment listing sites in your new city (Naked Apartments is a great one for New York, for example) that have verified listings—finding one apartment you like could also lead you to a no-fee broker who can let you know about other apartments you might love as well.

Do All your Viewings in One Trip

If you can take a trip to your new city, it's worth it to visit and view some apartments in person, so you can really get a feel for the space and the neighborhood. If you do make a trip though, save money by setting up as many viewings you can with all the apartments you're considering. If you have your heart set on one apartment and that's the only one you set up an appointment for, you might hate it and not have enough time to set up more, sending you back to square one. Setting up multiple viewings should ensure that you find the right place—and it'll make your trip worthwhile.

Get a Friend to Help

If you have close friends or family members you trust in the city you're moving to, it might be worth it to ask them to help you with your apartment search. At the very least, they may know of some otherwise unknown resources that can help you find your new home, and if you're lucky, they might be willing to view places for you and take photos and videos, or even show you apartments on a video call. Just don't forget to thank them when you move—maybe dinner on you at their favorite restaurant in town?

Use Google Maps

If you can't make it out to view apartments in person, you can still get a feel for the neighborhoods you're looking in with the help of Google Maps. Simply plug in the addresses of the apartments you're interested in, change your view to street view, and explore.

Take Advantage of Social Media

You can find out a lot about your potential new neighborhood through social media, like where people hang out and what activities there are to do. Do a search for your neighborhood on Twitter to see what people are saying about it, or take advantage of Instagram's geotag feature by searching for the neighborhoods you're considering to see what people are taking photos of in the area. This can be especially helpful if you're trying to decide between multiple apartments in different parts of the city.

Don't Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself

Apartment hunting in the city you already live in is hard enough, let alone finding one in a completely different part of the country. You might find your dream apartment in one go, but you also might not be able to find one that feels perfect right away, and either way, it'll be okay. You might find an apartment that's good enough for a temporary stay, so plan to stay for a year until your lease is up, and then the apartment hunt will be a lot less challenging. Another option: Try subletting for a few months while you find your forever home.

Have you survived a big move to a far away place? Do you have any tips for long-distance apartment hunting?

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