Hunting for a first apartment is a stressful experience and mine was made doubly so because I was searching long distance. I am from Wisconsin, but my new job was in North Carolina. Thankfully, I was already somewhat familiar with the state because I had attended college there, but my new job was several hours away from my university, so I started my search completely unaware of the area. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
Tip 1 – Start with PadMapper
Though long-distance apartment searching isn’t the easiest thing, it is made very possible because of the plethora of resources available online. At the start of my search, I utilized PadMapper to get an overall sense of the geography of my new city and the availability of apartments that fit within my budget and my other requirements.
Tip 2 – Use all housing sections of Craigslist
I then began to use Craiglist, making sure to only show listings that had pictures. The great thing about searching for apartments on Craigslist is the number of options it provides you – for instance, you can search for apartments that are under headers such as Housing Wanted, Rooms & Shares, and Sublets & Temporary. This is fantastic because you can find different options under each one.
Tip 3 – Add Reddit to your online resources
Every morning and evening, I’d browse PadMapper and Craigslist, because listings can change daily. However, these were not the only resources I relied on. I soon discovered two subreddits on reddit.com specific to my new city. There I not only found housing options, but also great advice about the city, restaurants, activities, and other important information. The subreddits were instrumental in my search because through them, I found what apartment complexes were highly rated and respected, and which ones to avoid. Even though I’ve found my apartment, I still go on the subreddits frequently because there are always new things to learn!
Tip 4 – Apply directly to complex you like
Ultimately, I landed my apartment by filling out a brief application on an apartment complex’s website. It was a basic form – just asked which unit I was interested in, my desired move-in date, and contact information. Through this resource, I landed an apartment in a good location with a popular company. The particular unit I’m moving into was not on Craigslist or PadMapper, so it’s incredibly vital to not limit your search – use all resources you can think of, and keep your mind open.
Tip 5 – Be flexible
Originally, I had been looking to live with others to save costs on rent and utilities, and would never have considered my current apartment because I would have to shoulder the costs completely on my own. However, after weighing pros and cons and discussing with friends and family, I changed my mind and decided a place to call my own would be best. Because of the number of resources I utilized, and my flexibility in changing what I believed was absolutely necessary for me, I’ve found an apartment I’m excited to call home.
I’m happy to say that my sight-unseen, long-distance apartment hunt was a success! The apartment was more or less how I expected it to be, but the experience was still very surreal. The thought that this is my own place to call home for now kept floating around in my head. Some unwelcome surprises in my new apartment were how dirty the kitchen and bathroom were – nothing horrible, but there was definitely some cleaning to do. I also had to vacuum & steam mop my hardwood floors, but otherwise the place is in great shape.
Long-distance apartment searching is difficult and stressful, as you never know what state the place will be in when you walk in. Thankfully, I believe I lucked out and didn’t have to deal with too many hassles. With my life unpacked from my car and now sitting in my living room, all my individual belongings are waiting for their proper places. Soon, I’ll be heading out to IKEA to discover some much-needed furniture. I’m eager to finally make this space my own. Wish me luck!
For more tips check out these Do’s and Don’ts of a Long Distance Apartment Hunt by my fellow blogger, Alex.