Hello, everyone! Welcome to the very first MailBag blog. We’re excited to kick this advice-oriented column into high gear, so mosey on over here to learn more about the idea of the MailBag and how to send in your very own questions! First up, My First Apartment reader, Alexus, sent us this really good — and commonly asked — question. Read on to see our advice!
“I have a simple question that I hope you can take time out of your day to answer. I am planning on moving out of state in early May of 2015. Around what month should I start looking around websites and apps for an apartment in that area?” – Alexus
Excellent question, Alexus! When you’re looking for a new apartment that’s out of state, I can’t stress enough how important it is to begin searching as soon as you possibly can. This makes it easy to start formulating ideas about what type of apartment you want, what you can truly afford, where you might want to live in this new place, etc. Sadly, though, most people who end up moving to a new state end up leaving their search until too late in the game. When this happens, you’re forced into making a decision quickly because your big move is coming up fast and you have very little time to survey your options and make an informed decision. So, in order to play it safe, create a budget now, begin building a “wish list” of features and amenities you’d like your new place to have, read reviews about neighborhoods and apartment complexes in your new area, and start browsing options on various sites, such as apartments.com, apartment guide, or craigslist.
Then, once your move is about 1-3 months out (some cities don’t have availability far in advance while others do — so do a little digging to find out where your new city falls), I recommend taking your long-distance apartment search deeper by picking out 5-10 places that really catch your eye and fit your budget and wish list (don’t forget to be realistic — lots of amenities don’t always make the place a great apartment!) and then contacting the management for details and tour availability (if possible). If you can manage to make a trip to view the places in person, then you’re in a really great spot because an in-person viewing can help you discover things about the property that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see solely from an internet listing. If you can’t, use all your social media contacts to find someone (friend of a friend, cousin twice-removed) who can give you the inside scoop. If you must search and sign the lease from afar, be sure to do lots of research about each and every property (here is a great blog about how to find out if an apartment has a criminal past) and check out the super helpful blogs here and here that outline exactly how to find a great apartment when you’re moving from a new state. And always be aware of potential scam artists peddling fake apartments. Make sure you always Google the address to confirm it exists.
Keep these things in mind as you search, and you’re bound to snag an apartment in your new state that’s perfect for you!
Best of luck and happy apartment searching,
Audra & The My First Apartment Team