Moving to a new city after college can be a challenge, especially when you haven’t gotten a good feel for your new neighborhood yet. Even if you can manage a short trip to your future home, it’s bound to be a whirlwind — and a visit doesn’t guarantee a signed lease. You might leave with more questions than you arrived with.
Luckily, I’ve had some experience tracking down a new pad from afar. I’ve had two long-distance moves in my life: once to Dallas, Texas, and once to Los Angeles, California. Before moving to Dallas, I signed a lease based on what I saw on the Internet. Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, I stuffed my car with all my belongings and found a place on the fly — this process included hours of calls with leasing agents while making the 22-hour drive. Needless to say, I’ve got a few tips and tricks up my sleeve that may help with your apartment hunt.
Ask your friends and your employer
Tap into your circles. You may have a connection to someone in your new locale — whether it’s a friend from college, a friend of a friend, or just a LinkedIn connection. This is the time to reach out and get unbiased information about good and bad neighborhoods in town. They can also tell you where to find housing within your price range.
If you have a job lined up, ask your employer. They’ll likely be more than willing to share area recommendations, and they’re probably more apt to suggest parts of town that allow for an easy, short commute.
Be candid with the leasing agent
If you have to hunt for your new apartment over the phone, be upfront with the leasing agent you speak to at different apartment complexes. Let them know your needs — everything from move-in timeframe to budget and commute. These are the first things you should discuss before continuing the conversation. Help them understand that you will need special attention throughout the duration of the leasing process. Ask for updated pictures, blueprints, a video tour, etc. If they want to rent to you, they’ll provide you with everything you need.
Hit up social media
If you can’t afford to hire a leasing agent, don’t be afraid to hit up social media for area recommendations and roommate ads. After all, social media isn’t just for posting selfies in your new office — it could also help land you a roommate, or better yet, friends. Sites like Roomster and SpareRoom will give you an idea of the types of apartments in your desired neighborhood, from price to quality to how far a Pad Thai takeout joint is from your new digs. These sites also allow you to talk and connect with real people who live in the neighborhood so you can get a better feel for the vibe.
Research, research, and more research
You are not the first person to move to your city. There are plenty of previously helpless transplants who want to share their wealth of knowledge. To learn more about the area, read reviews about neighborhoods on websites such as Neighborhood Scout or Area Vibes. And search for area-specific blogs like I’mMovingtoLA.com that are dedicated to helping newbies navigate their new home. Online review sites can also offer telling information about apartment complexes, but take them with a grain of salt since you don’t know the reviewer.