Relocating to a new city? Maybe you landed a new job, or perhaps your partner got an exciting promotion. Or maybe you are simply looking for a change of scenery. Moving to a new city involves a lot of planning and organizing, and finding a place to live is one of the most challenging parts of moving, especially because a lot of it may have to be done before you actually relocate.
Here are some smart tips to help you with apartment hunting, long-distance.
Research your new city
Learn all you can about your new city. You can do most of this online, of course. Find out about its history, tourist attractions, sports teams, prominent neighborhoods, parks, universities, etc. You can even call city government for details about specific neighborhoods. If possible, plan a short visit before your final move so you can get a good lay of the land.
Know what you’re looking for
Any time you start a search for apartments, it helps to be clear about what you’re looking for. Are you trying to find a one-bedroom? A studio? Do you need it to be pet-friendly? What’s the maximum you can pay for rent each month? Do you have any preferred neighborhoods?
Having a list of your top criteria will be hugely helpful as you go about the apartment search. Apartment-hunting websites, like Rent.com, will allow you to choose specific filters to narrow your selection and make it easier to pick a place.
Ask friends, co-workers, family and acquaintances if they know anyone living in the new city, so you can make useful connections even before you move there. Get opinions on neighborhoods, affordable apartment rentals, etc. from your new connections. Quiz them about commute options, traffic, etc. The more you can talk to people who live in the city, the more realistic a view you will have. If possible, sign up on neighborhood forums and blogs so you can get a better sense of what it means to be a resident.
Again, keep your criteria list handy as you go searching. Perhaps, a good school district is of utmost importance to you. Look for parent groups on Meetup or other sites where you can glean useful information. Are you an outdoors person? Join hiker forums to learn more about city trails and parks in the area. Knowing what is important to you will help you zero in on finding an apartment that fits your needs.
If you are relocating for a new job, then your boss and human resources manager can serve as excellent resources. These are people familiar with and living in the city, so they can give you good inputs. In some cases, management may also provide financial assistance as you go about finding an apartment. This may come in form of paying for an AirBnB rental or hotel accommodation for a couple of weeks. Don’t be shy to ask about all available options.
Get to know the local market
As part of your long-distance apartment search, do some initial research on what the rental market is like where you’re headed. How competitive is it? Is negotiating an option? How quickly do you have to apply if you find a place you love? Make a list of all documents you will require to help with the rental process. This may include: past landlord contact references and recommendations, bank statements, recent credit rating records, employment info, etc.
The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be when you start looking at listings.
Try to make an in-person visit
As mentioned before, check if you are able to make a quick trip to the new city before your move. While there, you can set up apartment viewings, meet your future co-workers, and get a better idea of what to expect.
Seeing apartments in person is vital for making sure you aren’t getting scammed or taken advantage of. If you are unable to do a trip, find out if there is a friend or an acquaintance there that can go on apartment visits for you, make sure the units are safe, take plenty of pictures, and test out all of the fixtures and appliances.
Opt for short-term options
If you’re relocating somewhere you don’t know much about, a short-term sublet is the perfect way to move to the city without making a long-term commitment to an apartment or neighborhood you may not end up liking. Plus, if you can find people who are trying to sublet a single room in their apartment, your future roommates could help you navigate your new city and even become your first friends in town.
Get help from friends and family, use your social networks to find out whatever you need, and have an open attitude and a sense of adventure! Don’t forget, the stress will all be over soon.
Have fun exploring your new home!