For millions of people in North America, finding an apartment has become a nightmare in the last few years. With cities like New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vancouver facing sky high rents and low vacancy rates, you’re lucky to find a place at all. But go in with the right resources and a strategy and you can survive the rental market where you live. Follow these tips and find the perfect place in your budget.
#1 Hit the Classifieds Online
If you live a city with high rent and low vacancy rates, use every resource at your disposal. There’s a long list of online resources for finding apartments, including local classifieds and real estate pages. They’re often the first place prospective tenants (and home and condo-buyers) look when they want to move, and landlords and rental agencies have caught on. You can find everything from basement bachelors to penthouse condos on sites like Kijiji from individual landlords to large rental management companies.
#2 Narrow Down Your Neighborhood and Price Range
A new home is a big decision and you want to make sure you’re happy with what you get. When you live in a major metropolitan area, you can wind up lost in thousands of listings. Give yourself a hand by limiting your search to a few neighborhoods at a time and take advantage of tools that let you narrow your search by price range and type.
#3 Check All the Lights and Faucets
In fact, you should just check everything when you have a chance to visit an apartment. In big cities with low vacancy rates, competition can be fierce, and you may only have a few minutes to investigate an apartment. Make a checklist of all the must-sees and go through the apartment like a detective. Leave no faucet unturned, no light-switch untouched, and don’t forget to flush the toilet.
#4 Check Your Car Insurance
Don’t get surprised when you move into a new area; your car insurance can change based on where you live. You might not think to check this before moving, as it’s not like you become a worse driver just because your zip code changed. But car insurance companies use your neighborhood as one of the factors in determining your insurance rate and the difference can be hundreds per year. A lot of it has to do with the number of collisions that happen annually at nearby intersections.
#5 Get to Know Your Local Laws
Most cities and states across North America have legislation regulating tenants’ and landlords’ rights. They regulate things like how much your rent can be increased every year, grounds for eviction, and whether or not a landlord can prohibit you from having pets. Depending on where you live, you may have more rights as a renter than you think you do. Read up on the local laws and check your local newspapers for advice on certain hot button issues. Just because it’s on your lease doesn’t necessarily mean that it would hold up.