Assuming you have the flexibility to pick a time of the year to move, the first thing you need to decide is what is more important to you: saving as much money as possible or having a lot of options to choose from.
Looking for Options: May – September
Most Americans move between May and September. This is not surprising when you think about the fact that young people start or graduate from college during this time, younger kids are out of school on summer break, and the weather is generally more accommodating to moving your household from one location to another.
Because of this, there is more turnover in rental units during this time of the year as compared to most any other time of the year–which means you may have a wider selection of units to choose from than at other times of the year.
The flip side is that there may also be greater demand from renters vying for those rental units during the summer than at other times of the year. This may mean that you have to act more quickly in making a decision about a rental so as not to lose it to another interested renter.
Looking to Save Money: October – April
If you’re looking for a deal on an apartment, winter is generally the best time to find a new place to live. Apartment turnover is much slower during the winter months, so while you may have fewer units to choose from, property managers may be more likely to cut you a deal to fill their vacancies.
In addition to doing your apartment search during the off-season, you’ll generally get a better deal on an apartment in markets that have greater supply than demand. Try to get a feel for the vacancy rates in the area and look for neighborhoods with new apartment construction. Neighborhoods with higher vacancy rates and new supply are a good place to start looking for an apartment for rent.
Even though you could potentially save money on your rent, there are a couple of things you should consider before getting bundled up for your wintry move:
- Are you breaking a lease to move? Breaking a lease can wind up costing you more in the end than the savings you may get moving into your new winter digs, so it’s is a good idea to do some simple math before diving into a new lease; Especially if it means breaking the one you’re currently in. Keep in mind the potential expenses of breaking a lease can include unexpected move-out and repair costs and court fees, so make sure the savings outweigh your expenses. Leases ending in the winter may only save renters a handful of cash every month, so be sure that it’s worth it.
- Can you go month to month? If the terms of your new lease aren’t flexible, you might find yourself stuck in a bad rental cycle for the long run. Remember, the rental market doesn’t have as many housing options during the cooler months, so when it’s time to move again, your options could be seriously limited. Before you sign anything, make sure your lease terms are flexible so you have options.
Reader Tip: Regardless of when you decide to move, check for new rental listings in the late morning (between 9am and 10am) to keep your search competitive. Most brokers post their listings at the start of each day.