You’ve made the decision to move to a new apartment. You’ve figured out the maximum rent you can afford, how much you can spend on moving and new furnishings, and when you want to move. But you’re still a bit stressed – you still need to find the actual apartment.
Once you’ve figured out your moving criteria, finding your new apartment can require a ton of work and eat up a ton of time. You probably know that starting your hunt early will save you stress, but you might be wondering, just how long do you need to look for a new apartment? Although there’s no single hard and fast answer to this question, the below guidelines should help you plan your apartment hunt.
Start by determining how much time you need for your move
If you’re moving just a couple of miles away, your move isn’t likely to take more than a day, since you can probably transport all your belongings from your old home to your new apartment with one trip in a moving van. If you’re moving across states or even all the way across the country, you’ll likely need a number of days to get yourself and, perhaps separately, all your belongings from one place to another.
You should also consider your work schedule. If you need ample time to request a day off for your move, you should begin your apartment hunt earlier to ensure you get your day off. Additionally, if you’re doing a DIY move instead of hiring professional movers, you may need more time, especially if you’re moving a larger number of belongings.
In addition to the move itself, be sure to take packing and unpacking into account. Do you need a few weeks to pack a little bit at a time, or would you prefer to get all your packing done in one whirlwind weekend? This also adds to your moving timeline, especially if your old and new lease don’t overlap and you have a hard deadline to move out of your old place.
Consider when your old lease starts and your new one begins
Just because your current lease ends August 31st doesn’t mean you have to move into your new apartment on September 1st. If your new apartment’s lease begins August 15th, you’ll have a full two weeks to slowly move your belongings from your old apartment to your new one. This takes the pressure off the timeline to find a new apartment, as it gives you some flexibility to move within a few weeks instead of within a day or two. Knowing that you’ll be taking advantage of such a time gap can be tremendously helpful for figuring out how long you need to look for a new apartment.
Turn to the experts for advice
With your moving timeline firmly established, consider expert advice to decide when you’ll begin your apartment hunt. Some experts suggest early, casual apartment browsing on internet search engines two to three months before your targeted move-in date. Other experts suggest considering the neighborhood you’re moving to, as many apartments for rent in metropolitan areas don’t become available until a few weeks – and, in some cases, just days – before the start of the lease.
Whether you live in an urban area with constant apartment turnover or a region with apartments available to view long before the lease starts, you’ll want to transition from browsing to touring no later than one month after you begin browsing. In metropolitan areas, you may need to start touring as soon as you begin browsing, but in other areas, you can usually be more lax about the transition.
The time of year can impact your hunting timeline
Although the above guidelines will help you with your hunt no matter when you move, you should also consider starting your hunt earlier or later depending on the time of year. Summer, for example, is a deeply competitive moving season, so you might want to begin browsing right as spring fades. For more on how your search time varies by season, click here.