Author Topic: How to look for an apartment  (Read 2773 times)

secondcor521

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How to look for an apartment
« on: May 13, 2017, 12:32:19 AM »
My son is looking to move into an apartment with a friend soon.

Their criteria, in order of importance, seem to be (1) cheap, (2) cheap, and (3) near work.

I've looked at the local craigslist and apartments.com.  Where else / how else does one find apartments these days?

Any other general apartment-finding tips and advice welcome.  I stopped renting in about 1993 I think.

Goldielocks

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2017, 12:55:35 AM »
My son is looking to move into an apartment with a friend soon.

Their criteria, in order of importance, seem to be (1) cheap, (2) cheap, and (3) near work.

I've looked at the local craigslist and apartments.com.  Where else / how else does one find apartments these days?

Any other general apartment-finding tips and advice welcome.  I stopped renting in about 1993 I think.

Knocking on doors and asking the property manager to add you to their wait list is one way.
It is hard to get your first place, especially if you need to have the rent indicate two students.   Better if one rents, and then sub-lets / rents a room to a friend.   Better yet if mom rents, and then rents to son and friend, although you are on the hook for no payment, then.

GizmoTX

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2017, 10:15:05 AM »
For an apartment in TX, generally you have to show 3x income before taxes for the apartment you want to rent, or a bank statement showing enough to cover the entire lease commitment, or a personal guarantee by a parent or grandparent who can show one of the first 2 choices. All living in the apartment must be on the lease & are liable for the full lease, but that doesn't help if one skips out anyway. How trustworthy is the friend?

Driving an area can reveal some apartments that don't list online.

secondcor521

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2017, 11:57:17 AM »
I'm not signing the lease no-way no-how, nor will any of the other parents I am fairly certain.

They're both 22 and working entry-level jobs.  Since they're looking at super cheap, I'm guessing the total rent would only be about 10% of their combined gross.

My son mentioned last night that since his friend makes more that they've agreed the friend would pay more; i.e., prorate the rent on their incomes.  In exchange, they're going to try to rent a one bedroom (again, cheap) and the friend would get the bedroom.  My son will sleep on a couch or something depending on the layout - my son is very chill about things and this doesn't bother him.

@GizmoTX, I worry a little about the friend's reliability.  He has shown some flakiness in the past.  But my son and he have been two peas in a pod for 10 years, and I've talked through the implications with him multiple times of being on a lease with somebody, and I think he gets it.  My son is an extreme tightwad and has been working for a few years, so he probably will have enough in his checking account to pay the entire remainder of the lease if something happens.  Of course it would heavily damage their friendship; we've talked about that too.

More targeted question would be:  How to find *cheap* apartments?  There are plenty of nice apartments around; they're probably looking for the half-of-a-duplex or thing-over-a-garage one-off type of place.

pk_aeryn

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2017, 12:44:21 PM »
IME Craigslist is your best bet for cheap apts - cheap landlords who can't list it for much rent just want to post on CL for free.
They need to read up on all the Craigslist scams however. Ie never mail a deposit to someone who says they will mail you keys, etc.  they will usually be listed below market average to try to attract you.

secondcor521

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2017, 01:33:09 PM »
@pk_aeryn, thanks.  We can avoid scams I think.  They're looking here in the same town I live in.

@GizmoTX, meant to say thanks for the drive around suggestion.  We'll try that in addition to CL.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2017, 01:51:53 PM »
IME Craigslist is your best bet for cheap apts - cheap landlords who can't list it for much rent just want to post on CL for free.
They need to read up on all the Craigslist scams however. Ie never mail a deposit to someone who says they will mail you keys, etc.  they will usually be listed below market average to try to attract you.

Craigslist and word of mouth have always been my go-to's. If they want cheap, they either need to do a weird one- home owners with a basement apartment type deal- or large complexes that are kinda run down/old. I've actually had better luck with old run down apartment complexes- they tend to be louder and your neighbors suck (smoke, fight, park in your spot), but if appliances break or something floods you're less likely to be told 'too bad, I'm broke'. As you can tell, I've rented some charming places ;) No matter what, cheap places require persistence to get things fixed and get your deposit back. Be sure he documents really well on move-in, including photos. A key way 'cheap' places make money is keeping the whole deposit with high tenant turn over.

Blackeagle

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2017, 01:56:21 PM »
I'll second the driving around suggestion.  I found my grad school apartment from a sign I saw when I was out looking at other places.

GizmoTX

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2017, 02:13:10 PM »
Do they have access to furniture or will they be looking for a furnished place?

Additional expenses -- totals listed here were split equally among roommates: Most apartments here require renter's insurance with a minimum of $100,000 for liability & include personal property coverage of $20,000; DS has been paying $15/mo. Usually the renter contracts independently with an electric company; DS pays $55/mo. average. His apartments charged for water & trash, about $25/mo. He uses internet only, wired & wifi, about $50/mo including the modem. No landline; he uses a cellphone.

Generally the best idea is to split the rent itself according to the square footage of the personal space -- if one roommate has a bigger bedroom (or the only bedroom), then he pays the larger prorated amount. It's a bad idea to pay based on income, IMO; if one of them loses or quits his job, does he then get to not pay rent? Sleeping in a common space creates its own set of problems, especially if that person isn't very tidy.

Does your son know how to cook? This is a huge money saver, not to mention better nutrition. The only small appliance DS took to his first apartment was an electric Instant Pot, which has a 10" diameter footprint & functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, egg cooker, steamer, saute pot, & food warmer. Set it & forget it until the food is ready, & cooking with pressure saves energy & tastes better than other methods. DS' roommates used it too. One summer internship housing did not include an oven, but the Instant Pot was a good substitute & not every place has a microwave.

Dicey

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2017, 02:47:53 PM »
Good old fashioned shoe leather. Have them make up a rental resume along with a completed generic application forms.  (For sensitive information such as SSNs, fill in "Avail. On Request".) Then they should start at their place of employment and pound the surrounding pavement. The trick is to find something before it goes on the market. Landlords will respect their gumption.

Goldielocks

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2017, 03:15:33 PM »

More targeted question would be:  How to find *cheap* apartments?  There are plenty of nice apartments around; they're probably looking for the half-of-a-duplex or thing-over-a-garage one-off type of place.

People willing to rent apartments to students, cheap ones, often post at the local college bulletin boards (physical postings) or even online with the student assoication.  If there is a college or trade school near where they want to live, go check it out.

  Some of these landlords insist on only renting to registered students, but many ONLY post at the college to keep the applicant pool small and targeted to the type of renter they want, and don't double check registration --they want young, pays on time, (studious?) does not need 3x income, ok with quirky cheap apartment features (like a 6ft ceiling in basement suite)

secondcor521

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2017, 03:37:33 PM »
Thanks for the additional replies; I'll share them with my son and his friend.

Replies to some questions:

They'll have access to enough basic furniture.  Furnished apartments around here are rare and not usually a good deal, and are usually more extended-stay places catering to professionals moving to the area.

Around here rental insurance isn't required, but it is cheap.  My son doesn't really own much worth insuring.  Landlord is required by state law to provide water/sewer/trash.  I'm sure they'll get internet and share that; the other utilities required are electric (for AC in the summer) and gas (for heat in the winters).

On the rent ratio, they'll probably set up the ratio based on what they make now and keep that fixed.  Loss of job = get a new job quickly; they're both reasonably employable at their current wages if something were to happen.

Not sure what to say on the tidiness aspect.  My son is the furthest thing from tidy, but his friend knows that, so...

Most 1BRs around here include a full kitchen with microwave/oven/fridge, although the cheaper ones might be missing some of those.  He "bachelor cooks" - is willing and able to microwave or cook basic stuff.

@Goldilocks, there is a nearby school, I'll suggest they check the bulletin boards in the student union building there.  Good suggestion.

Thanks all, add more if you like...

KM77

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2017, 11:59:24 AM »
In addition to bulletin boards, I'd suggest looking at the local university/college websites.  They may have an online portal with off campus housing available or even roommates wanted advertising.  That's how I found my badass lakefront walkout apartment when I worked close to a big university.

PoutineLover

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2017, 01:33:19 PM »
I use Craigslist, padmapper, kijiji, local facebook groups and word of mouth to find places. If they are messy bachelors they can probably find an ugly looking place for cheap, that's my strategy. It's not fancy, but it's a couple hundred less a month than a similarly sized and located but fancier looking place. Look in neighborhoods that are near popular spots, but not quite in them. Because I'm two blocks below a major street so technically in a different borough, my rent is way cheaper than if I lived above that arbitrary line, and I get all the same convenience with only a little extra sketchiness. Definitely document everything and get it in writing with deadline if repairs need to be made.

Rimu05

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Re: How to look for an apartment
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2017, 02:21:07 PM »
I'm not signing the lease no-way no-how, nor will any of the other parents I am fairly certain.

They're both 22 and working entry-level jobs.  Since they're looking at super cheap, I'm guessing the total rent would only be about 10% of their combined gross.

My son mentioned last night that since his friend makes more that they've agreed the friend would pay more; i.e., prorate the rent on their incomes.  In exchange, they're going to try to rent a one bedroom (again, cheap) and the friend would get the bedroom.  My son will sleep on a couch or something depending on the layout - my son is very chill about things and this doesn't bother him.

@GizmoTX, I worry a little about the friend's reliability.  He has shown some flakiness in the past.  But my son and he have been two peas in a pod for 10 years, and I've talked through the implications with him multiple times of being on a lease with somebody, and I think he gets it.  My son is an extreme tightwad and has been working for a few years, so he probably will have enough in his checking account to pay the entire remainder of the lease if something happens.  Of course it would heavily damage their friendship; we've talked about that too.

More targeted question would be:  How to find *cheap* apartments?  There are plenty of nice apartments around; they're probably looking for the half-of-a-duplex or thing-over-a-garage one-off type of place.

Perhaps where you are renting is different but I've found here in FL, the difference between a one bedroom and two bedroom is like $100, some even $50.

For me, I looked for roommates online, but I found a roommate at work where we looked for apartments together and we found a place that individually looked at our incomes and separated our payments. Hence, if my roommate stopped paying rent, it would not fall on me.