If you’re starting to look for an apartment, you’ve probably heard of Craigslist. Good — it can be the step one in your search! But, hearing about it, tinkering with it, and knowing how to best utilize it to save time and money are different beasts entirely. I kind of want to assume that all of you already know what www.craigslist.com does, but just in case you don’t, it’s basically a giant message board/flea market/apartment finder. You can find an apartment, the furniture you’ll need for the apartment, and a yoga class to de-stress after moving into your new apartment in one fell swoop. Pretty neat-o. It’s not the most impressive website, but it’s fairly easy to navigate based on key word and dollar amount.
To start with, go to the housing section and decide whether you want to rent an apartment yourself, or join roommates who are already living in a place. Of course, there are pros and cons to each choice, but for the moment it might be best to investigate both options. When I was looking for a place in Chicago, I first looked at just rooms — but wasn’t comfortable with any of the people I met with. You’ll just know — and be sure to trust your instinct because while you can break up with your Valentine’s Day sweetheart, a lease is a legal document. That said, finding a room is surely a whole lot easier than finding an apartment, and then roommates, all by your lonesome self — though I did do it before and it worked a-ok.
So, you’re checking both sections. Now, it’s important to decide on both neighborhood and price points. You can search based on minimum and maximum price, and if I were you I’d put a reasonable minimum (there are a lot of cheats on Craigslist!) and a reasonable maximum (don’t fall in love with something you can’t afford!). You can then put in various neighborhoods. I’d go so far as to say that I wouldn’t even waste a second searching Craigslist blindly. You’ll end up finding apartments in Timbuktu and who wants to live there!? Many listings come with maps, but if yours does not, use Google Maps to look it up. This will be important later on, to make sure the location is acceptable.
I’d also use the bookmark feature on your computer so you can easily find again all the listings that interest you, instead of re-searching.
See, it’s not so hard to get your first apartment search started!
P.S. For more good Craigslist tips, check out these links from last year!