When it comes to finding an apartment in a new and unfamiliar area, it pays to do your homework. Fortunately, apartment-hunting information has never been easier to access. Check out the following websites and you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right place to call home.
If you’re looking for information about an American city, City-Data.com is the place to find it. You can find data sets for all 50 states, filtering for factors like median rent, owner-occupied housing, income levels, unemployment, and a wide variety of other elements. Getting the data at the point of origin is always better, but primary gatherers like Data.gov or Census.gov aren’t always easy to navigate. The advantage of a traffic-focused data aggregator like City-Data.com is that it’s built to attract visitors and therefore it’s extremely easy to use.
The Lexis Nexis Community Crime Map is another user-friendly aggregator, but for crime rather than general data. Lexis Nexis is one of the biggest legal data gatherers in the world, and their Community Crime Map draws directly from law enforcement agencies across the United States. You can check neighborhoods for thefts, assaults, narcotics violations, burglaries from motor vehicles, and just about any other crime you can think of. Best of all, its heat map will show you where the trouble spots are and prevent you from moving into the wrong area.
The days of looking in the classifieds to find apartments are way behind us. Now there is a seemingly endless array of third-party aggregator websites like Zillow and Trulia pulling apartment listings from Realtor Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and brokerage listings. That’s good for you because it means you get pictures, details, and prices up front. Keep in mind, however, that these sites don’t have access to every apartment listing. Here’s a hot tip — type “rental agents in (your city)” into Google to find leasing agents and property management companies that may not be passing their apartment listings to third party aggregators.
It can be a long shot, but sometimes you can find a review of your apartment from someone who’s lived there before. Just remember that reviews are subjective, and that you’ll likely have to wade through biased reviews from renters with an axe to grind or landlords pretending to be renters. Look at enough reviews across a few websites, however, and you just might be able to pull together a median perspective on the apartment or neighborhood you’re looking at.
When it comes to finding an apartment, nothing beats hitting the streets and seeing things for yourself. When you’re moving to a new area from out of town, though, that isn’t always an option. Enter the address you’re considering into Google Maps and then click your location’s image in the top left or lower left corner of the page to get Street View. You’ll get to see how the building and the neighborhood around it really look, as opposed to the carefully cropped images available on Zillow and Trulia.
If you’ve got children, one of the things you’ll need to figure out is where the school zones are. Moving into a new apartment only to find that you’re outside of the school zone you wanted can be a huge headache, so check your location through Great Schools before you make any commitments. Just type the address you’re considering into the search bar, and their map will do the rest.
Looking for the right apartment doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Doing your research before you sign your lease can iron out surprises and help ensure that you get what you want from your next place. With these sites and just a little bit of luck, you’ll end up with an apartment that you can enjoy for as long as you need it.
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