Planning a Long Distance Apartment Hunt

Looking for an apartment in a city you don’t live in is hard knocks. Believe me, I know.  I moved to New York from Chicago for a job and had exactly 3 weeks to pack up my life and shuffle it over a few states. But, don’t worry – lots of folks do it with aplomb.

The first step is to take stock of your resources, both online and offline.

Do you know anyone in the city where you’re moving? Does anyone you’re friends with know anyone? A first-hand reference is always good – as is his/her couch.  Also, if you’re moving for work – does your work offer any relocation help/expenses?

Once you’ve tapped out your first circle of connections, Google the hell out of where you’re moving. Yelp, unsurprisingly, has a wealth of info – everything from broker reviews to neighborhood restaurant lists.  The other great aspect of Yelp is that you can message members directly if you have any specific questions.  Also, research the local city magazine’s website.  In NYC that means NY Magazine and Time Out NY.  They usually do a good neighborhood review at least once a year, including rent ranges. And check out our city guides.

After you’ve done your research, determine your plan of attack. Will you apartment hunt before you officially move? Stay with friends while you look? Move a week or two early to give you time to apartment hunt before you start your job? Sublet and deal with apt searching once you move? It’s really impossible to look for a rental more than a month-out, but you should have the groundwork done  and be ready to start  when you hit that move minus 30 day mark. 

If at all possible, do not sign a lease without seeing your future abode.

Crash on a friend’s couch for a weekend if you have to – your investment in airfare WILL pay off.  Basically, leases are super hard to break, so you don’t want to agree to anything sight unseen. Also, in major metros, such as NYC, it’s hard to find a good place and dishonest landlords could try to trick you. 

And don’t forget to check out our detailed checklists to help you keep track of your options, once you’re actually checking spaces out. 

If you have any more Q’s right now, let us know below!

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Author My First Apartment

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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Comments (4)

  1. Avatar Keligh A.

    Im moving frm Delaware to Phoenix, AZ, i have already found a spot, actually a weekly apt for rent. I have over 1500 in my acct. Im making tha journey all by myself til my cousins move back (they lived there for 5yrs. & have always talked about coming back. Phoenix, AZ & the surrounding parts are MUCH cheaper than Delaware. I was spending anywhere from 600-750 on my first 3apts, thn I started looking at AZ & I could rent a house for that amount! I cant wait to leave here!

  2. Avatar Aubrey Scaife

    Hey, I found your site from reddit. It is not blog post I would normally read, but I liked your thoughts on it. Thank you for creating a piece worth reading!

  3. Avatar Kristin M

    Thanks for the hint about using Yelp– I never knew I could use it for anything besides restaurant reviews. I’m moving from Memphis to Savannah (over 600 miles) next year and have been checking out all kinds of apartment sites. Thanks again for the tips!