How to Find The Best Apartment for You

Wondering how to find the best apartment for you?

CanalSide Lofts in Columbia, SC

CanalSide Lofts in Columbia, SC

While the idea of the “best” apartment certainly varies from person to person, these tips should help you find the apartment that suits you to a “T.”

Know thyself
Before you can figure out how to find the best apartment, you’ve got to know yourself — your home lifestyle, that is. A good way to start an apartment search is to think about how your lifestyle affects your apartment needs. Ask yourself: what kind of apartment dweller are you?  Do you need a quiet apartment where you can relax or study all day long? Or do you need a place to rest your head at night in between work and an active social life?

When you consider how your lifestyle affects your apartment needs, think about the following factors:

  • Rental price. How much money is in your budget for living expenses?  How much can you put towards rent after you pay other life expenses?
  • Work. Do you work 9 to 5? Are you in school? How far from work do you want to live?
  • Space. Can you fit everything in a small studio apartment? Or do you need several bedrooms to accommodate your family?
  • Children. Where is your child’s school located? Is there a safe place for your kids to play outside?
  • Social life. What do you do for recreation? Do you like to be near restaurants and shops? Do you like the outdoors?
  • Transportation. Do you drive everywhere? Bike? Use public transportation?
  • Pets. Where will you walk your dog? How many times a day do you take your dog outside?

All of these questions will help you pinpoint exactly what you need and want in an apartment, which is important. In any given city, you’ll likely have a number of apartment hunting options, so it’s best to know what you want before you search — that way you stay focused and don’t get overwhelmed by choices.

See all of our Apartment Hunting articles

Set apartment hunting priorities
The next step in finding the best apartment is to set apartment hunting priorities.  Once you know what you need from your next apartment, it’s good to get all of your needs and wants down on paper. As you start your apartment search, you can refer to this list to ensure you only consider apartments that meet your criteria.

Organize your apartment search
Once you determine the location, amenities and price that make up the best apartment for you, an important way to make sure you get what you want is to stay organized. That means planning your moving schedule, taking detailed notes while you are on apartment visits and keeping all of the related paperwork in one handy place. Creating an apartment search file is a good way to stay on top of all of the brochures, references and applications you’re going to accumulate. You can also check out the Apartment Guide Apartment Search Checklist to make sure you do not forget any important steps during your search.

Give yourself an advantage over other apartment hunters
Keep in mind that while you’re apartment hunting, so are many others. In areas where competition for the best apartments is stiff, you can give yourself a leg up on other renters. First, have all of your references and application items ready to go so that when you do find the apartment of your dreams, you’ll be ready to submit an application on the spot. You’ll likely also need to have your checkbook with you so can write a check for the application and security deposit. (In many apartment communities, your new rental is not a “done deal” until you’ve handed over this money.)

Take this well-prepared approach to apartment hunting, and you’ll likely find a great apartment in no time. With a bit of research and organization, it may be easier than you imagined to find the best apartment just waiting for you.

27 thoughts on “How to Find The Best Apartment for You

  1. These are very good tips- I wish everyone would read this to avoid stressing themselves out.
    (I am an apartment locator in Chicago.)

  2. I wish I had given more thought when I selected my apartment in AZ (moved from NYC). I was constrained by budget and had extremely limited time to search for an apartment.

    I SHOULD have found a way to spend a little more on rent and gone to a 55+ community. I don’t know ANYONE in my apartment community and there don’t seem to be very many people my age.

    When you have an apartment community with lease terms from 3 mo to 12 month, you likely will get a more transient population, which is not so good for me.

    • Hi, Karen. I am looking at retiring to AZ and have a VERY tight budget – SS and a small pension. Am 62 and have done a lot of online searching. I’m beginning to think I won’t be able to reach my dream. How did you handle it? Any ideas, suggestions, pitfalls, etc. that might help? Thanks.


  3. Edi,
    It depends where you want to live.
    If you look in Apache Junction or possibly Mesa, Gilbert, you will find some nice communities. AJ has some trailer parks too, and some of these will be very popular places with 60+ people who will welcome you in their social circle.
    The West Valley is a little down at the heels, as is downtown Phoenix. I wouldn’t rule it out but be sure to look first and get to know the area. Ther is a high speed rail downtown and a GREAT museum free to residents on Tuesdays at 3pm and a GREAT library with lots of community events free to public and lends all types of media.
    Glendale is nice. Scottsdale is pricey. You won’t be able to afford Paradise Valley or Fountain Hills, probably. But nice places.
    Sun City is a planned development for retirees. Check that one out.
    Cave Creek and Antelope are other places just north of PHX that you could try but they are planned developments and may or may not suit your style of living.
    Even less expensive are areas up in the mountains like Show Low and Heber/Overgaard. These are lovely scenic areas but too far for commuters so cheaper to rent or own. I would even try as far north as Grand Canyon near Flagstaff. Very beautiful area. Prescott is pretty nice mountain town.
    Best of luck!

  4. I need an apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, for 2 months (11-6-2012 to 8-8-2012) and i want it fully furnished because I don’t have any time to rent furnishings. Max rent price per month is 1800 in Camarillo, Ca. It’s hopeless searching in all the websites.

    • Hi, Sarah, thanks for reaching out. It can be challenging to find just the right apartment for your needs. We recommend for your search. Just enter your city and state for a list of apartments which will include their rental rates. Thanks!

  5. Hi, I noticed you posting advice and such so I thought I would ask. I have been on before, but while driving around town I have noticed many apartment complexes that don’t appear on the site. And I can’t find them in local google searches. Is there anything you suggest, other then just beating the pavement in search of a good apartment that fits my budget?

    • Hi, Joe, thanks for writing. Visiting in person is a great way to get a sense of a community. Of course, for finding apartment living options, we do recommend Best of luck on your search!

  6. My daughter and I plan to sell our home in Arizona and move to Carlsbad Calif. We are interested in renting. My question…is it safer to deal with a realtor Vs property managers when locating a rental. We would like a town or patio home 3BR, 2BA under $2,000 and at least 15 sq. ft. one or two car garage. We need to accommodate our furniture plus piano. Thank you for your advice. Sally

  7. Hi, I am in a dilemma, and wonder if anyone has any good advice or opinions for me. About 2.5 years ago, my career as a teacher, suffered due to budgets, cut backs etc…and was made only a part time 20 hour/week employee…and only able to substitute teach minimally thereafter, having had a severe bout with Major Depression. Thankfully, I had section 8 come thru just in time. However……my health as a (fairly young still) 34 yr old, has suffered and I need to move to Los Angeles, where I am happiest, and have lived before, with a great network of friends and family. It is EXTREMELY difficult to Find just the MOST Basic things ON my MUST HAVE LIST, which is the following: Safe, (not South LA, etc…) meaning no graffiti on the Actual apartment Buildings themselves.. at least, like I saw today — 2nd or top floor, and a parking space or street pkg… but none of the big management companies want to ”deal with Section 8 voucher holders” — I am doing, and NEED to do this for my mental, and physical health…this move is not really a choice, its a matter of Life over — nothingness of a life of severe depression and probably institutionalism on and off for the rest of my life — Why doesn’t website at least offer a few options for Section 8 ppl who are excellent clean upstanding tenants like myself who have not missed a single payment, or been late even a day on paying rent, for the past 10.5 yrs at the same apartment…I think that is Excellent Apt History, just that…so can someone help me with Section 8 ideas? To whom do I or can I turn. You may email me directly. Thk you very much

    • Hi Casey,

      Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, we are just a listings service and cannot actually assist in securing you Section 8 housing. Please contact the landlord or property manager at the apartment complexes you’re interested in to find out about their specific Section 8 policies. Please let us know how else we can help.

      Apartment Guide

  8. I will be at washington university in St louis to take of internship program from 25 march until 31 June 2013 .I want apartment near washington university .

    price 400$-600$ / month . can you help me. thank

  9. Hello

    I am looking to relocate to south Florida (Broward county) from NC. I currently receive a severance package with 2x monthly payments from my old job for months to come. I am currently looking for a job down there.

    Does apartment management look at your most recent W2 or last paystubs? I have a condo now and have for a while so I am not sure what apartments look for when trying to rent.

    Thank you

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for reaching out. Most property managers do ask to confirm proof of salary on an application, but they differ on whether or not they require pay stubs or a recent W2. It’s best to confirm with the property you’re interested in directly.

      Apartment Guide

  10. looking 4 a one to 3 month rental in la area good neighborhood not upscale// or in daytona beach fl area //700 to 990 price range/thank u

  11. I need apartment in quiet and safety area…in queens, ny.
    Rent $ 1,000. To $ 1,200.
    I bedroom. I want first nivel prefer it.
    Thank you.

  12. You finished the web sites you gave Kristin & mprice above with-4jl and -4jn. What does that mean? i want to try this approach in Titusville

  13. How about Senior apartment in flagstaff AZ . 3 bedroom – with2bath. Pool . I want photo s of place inside and out.

  14. Great tips on apartment hunting! I strongly agree with staying organized. Especially when you’re searching in an area with many options that may be very similar in size, view, amenities, ect. You may end up with two apartments, that are almost identical… but perhaps one has slightly more light or one feature that you could easily forget when making your decision.


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