Let’s face it: Moving is a big deal. Finding a new home usually means that you’ve landed your dream job, or at least a position that makes relocating totally worth it. This period of transition can be incredibly exciting. There isn’t much like the adventure and enjoyment that new surroundings can bring into your everyday life, let alone the rewards of a new job.
Moving can present a challenge, though, especially when it’s across the country. After all, choosing a new home that’s local is relatively easy because you’re already familiar with the area. Going to a new state? Not so much. From Austin to Atlanta, Denver to Dallas or anywhere Point B may be, what’s someone to do when looking for a place to live where they’ve never lived before? Here are a few long-distance apartment hunting tips to ease your mind a bit.
Naturally, one of the easiest ways to get a feel for what apartments are available is by doing an online search. Plugging in terms like “apartments for rent in (your new destination city here)” will serve up a large number of promising solutions, perhaps too many. To refine your search, we recommend first doing research on your destination city and narrowing your search to the neighborhoods that are the best fit for your needs. There are a number of online resources that will help you evaluate the quality of schools, crime rates, pet-friendliness, walkability, cultural and recreational amenities and much more.
Once you’ve identified your target neighborhood(s), begin your apartment hunting using the neighborhood names in place of the city name in your search keywords. Then, try entering different search parameters, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the price range that you’re looking for. Filters like this can really go a long way toward narrowing your search and saving tons of time.
Once you’ve identified a few promising communities that have the floor plan, features and amenities that you desire, it will be important to review pricing and availability. Most communities today will offer the ability to check availability and pricing online, schedule a tour and even complete an application and lease online. Look closely at the lease term options that are available. You will frequently be offered a variety of lease terms, each with a different number of months and monthly rent. While shorter leases are a good idea if you may planning to buy a home or if flexibility is important to you, consider the long-term effects in play if you ultimately decide to renew your lease. If recent trends are a predictor of the future, rent will likely go up when it’s time to renew your lease so make sure that your budget is ready for that increase. Longer lease terms are great if you value the security of a 12 month or longer lease with a fixed monthly rate. Ultimately, your needs and budget will be the driving factors in determining the best lease term option for your situation.
It may be easy just to jump online and start searching, but don’t forget to consider other options. Think about contacting a reputable real estate agent or relocation service in the area. Real estate agents and relocation agents often have tips and insider information about communities and can often be the best way to score a great deal.
Ask the human resources department at your new job if they offer assistance with relocation or have a preferred partner that may offer a discount for employees. They may even be able to provide referrals from coworkers. After all, your new coworkers live and work in the same city you’ll be transitioning to and are commuting to the same place.
When it comes time to plan your tour of the community, we recommend that you book your tour in advance and try to tour during the week. Weekends are prime time for apartment tours, and a less-busy weekday can give you more scheduling options and ample time to walk around and take in the details of your potential new home. Try to avoid the last minute tour reservation to ensure that you get a time frame that works best for you and your trip from out of town provides you the most value.
Before and during your tour, pay careful attention to the community staff. Does the community respond to online reviews? Were they responsive and helpful when reserving your tour? Are they courteous and ready to meet your needs upon arrival? Do they recognize and greet residents that you encounter during your tour? You’ll be interacting with the community team during your search, and while you live at the community. First impressions are often strong indicators of the experience you can expect if you decide to live at the community.
When you’re in town doing reconnaissance, it’s important to have a clear game plan with a pre-determined list of apartments that you’d like to visit. Flying across the country to scout out potential homes and waiting until arrival to aimlessly wander around hoping that the perfect place is going to jump out and surprise you is not the way to go.
Plan ahead, but leave some flexibility in your schedule. Having a couple extra hours will allow you to spontaneously check out a cool community that you might have missed and also spend time in the area to get a feel for the neighborhood. Do a little shopping, perhaps. Grab a bite to eat. Visit the local park. Talk to your future neighbors. Enjoy the experience and make moving fun!
Ready to start your search? The Greystar website offers a “Find Your Apartment” feature that allows you to customize a search of more than 1,500 apartment communities across the U.S. You can narrow your search by zip code, apartment size, amenities and more. Locating your next apartment could be as easy as visiting this page and punching in your desired city. Happy apartment hunting!