Figuring out the best time to rent an apartment can be tough.
If you have the flexibility to make a strategic decision about the time of year to search, choosing the right month could have a large impact.
Though there will be other factors, the ideal time to rent an apartment mostly comes down to one question about your priorities: Are you looking for the best apartment or the best price?
While all of these can have an impact on the cost of your apartment, there's nothing that's going to work miracles for you here. You're most likely to get a difference of about 5 percent between the peak and low season.
It's not nothing, but you're not going to find yourself with an apartment in Manhattan for $1,000 a month. Just set your expectations appropriately.
If your main concern is the price, you're going to want to be looking in the winter, especially November to March. The holiday season leaves a lot of people with little energy or money, so fewer renters are looking for apartments.
Most people make their big life changes in the summer (college students moving away from home, etc.), so demand and prices are highest then, and lowest in the winter. You're probably not going to have as much choice since most leases are going to end in the summer, but not wanting a unit to sit empty for months will make most apartment managers willing to take a lower rental rate.
While prices are going to be cheaper in winter, don't expect miracles. You're unlikely to find a big enough difference to justify making a move like breaking your current lease to move in the winter. You're also likely to find the landlord is willing to offer you more concessions to get you to sign a longer or shorter lease. It's in their best interest for the apartment to come back on the market in the summer, and they'll take an opportunity to do so if given the chance.
On the flip side, you're going to have the most choice when looking in the summer, roughly between May and September. This makes sense when you consider that summertime is when kids get out of school, college students graduate and the weather turns nice for outdoor activities like moving.
Most people sign 12-month leases in the summer, meaning that they also end around that time, so this is when the highest number of new apartments are coming on the market. The downsides are you'll have to act fast and face higher rent — there are a lot of other renters looking for the perfect place at the same time.
So, you know what month you want to move. Is there a better time in the month to start looking?
Most leases expire at the end of the month and require notice 30 days before leaving. Start looking around that time, and you'll be finding apartments right as they're going up on the market. If you want to move in December, start looking in the last couple of weeks of November.
You can also try looking in the middle of the month. Anything available then has probably been sitting empty for a little while, and property managers are probably scrambling to get someone in that unit. If you're willing to move in immediately, it could save you a fair amount of money.
If you want to get really specific, the best time to check online listings is between 9 and 10 a.m. Why? That's when property managers are most likely to post new listings for recently-vacated rentals. You can strike while the iron is hot!
The trends above are generally true, but depending on where you're moving, there may be different peak times. For example, if you're moving to a college town or city with a significant student population, the best time to look is right after school starts in September, but you might not be able to move into a unit until the end of the school year in April.
Whatever you do, timing is everything. There are better times than others to rent an apartment, and finding the right time can help you find the perfect place or save a little money.
But finding the best time to rent an apartment can be different for everyone, depending on what you're looking for and where you're looking for it. Happy hunting!