Author Topic: Renting in a new city  (Read 3154 times)

APowers

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Renting in a new city
« on: August 27, 2015, 10:06:11 AM »
How to rent an apartment?

I've got the general gist-- find an apartment complex I like, apply to rent, read the lease carefully, etc.

But.

I have no rental history, and I work pizza delivery (gross income = ~$2,100/mo). We own our current home outright, but are planning on moving (from WA) several states away, to a city (Colorado Springs) where we don't know anyone (so no friends to stay with while apartment hunting, or to ask for recommendations).

How do you decide if a place is okay without being able to see it in person? Is there a good strategy for moving to a new city where you have no roots or social network? Also, there's four of us (me + wife + 2 kids), so we can't just "live out of the car until we find a place". I feel like it's not a good plan to rent someplace sight unseen, but living out of a motel or airbnb is pretty expensive, even for a short term (2-3 months-ish?).

Will my income history be a problem? I'm currently working 4 days/week so I have time to remodel the house. After moving, I'll be working full-time (likely pizza delivery again, 'til I find a "real job"). Even with my current income, we'd be easily able to make rent (~$800 on average), so working even more will just make it easier...but I've read that (good) landlords often have income requirements like 3-5x the rent. Should I worry about this?

bacchi

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2015, 10:53:03 AM »
What we did:

- Visited and stayed in a hostel for a weekend, scoping out places (using credit card miles for the flight).
- Sent in rental application. The "rental history" was a mortgage statement showing that the loan was current.
- Moved, staying in KOA cabins and Motel 6s and camping on the way. It was a great moving trip, even with the unwieldy UHaul truck pulling a car.

lbmustache

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2015, 01:13:48 PM »
Should not take 2-3 months to find a place. I personally would not rent a place sight unseen unless: 1) it's part of those lux apartment/condo style buildings (everything is the same in all apartments and the likelihood of getting a shitty place is low) 2) you know someone who lives there and can check it out for you.

MishMash

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2015, 04:43:20 PM »
We recently moved from the Springs.  If you don't mind me asking, how many beds etc are you looking at and what is important to you to decide what part of town you want to live in?  In some parts of town 800 is really low for rent.

MishMash

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2015, 04:51:01 PM »
Sorry,  missed there were 4 of you, and that you have kids.  With kids you probably want to be in one of the better school districts.  You won't be able to find a 2 bed for 800 in any of those neighborhoods probably.  In most of the better districts it's cheaper to rent a house then it is to rent an apartment since the area is largely military. Check rentals.com in area code 80920, that will land you in D20 which is one of the top school districts in town yet is still somewhat affordable.  AVOID ANYTHING near the airport if you value your families safety.  Lastly, Pueblo looks cheap and attractive, you couldn't have paid us to live there and everyone that we know that grew up there has fled pretty much.

APowers

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2015, 06:03:30 PM »
Thanks everyone!

More details--

We were just visiting in July, figuring out if we actually liked the place in general. Definitely thought the south (southeast/industrial) end of town was less than desireable, but it seemed okay neighbourhood-niceness-wise in most of the rest of town.

We do have kids, but we are going to be homeschooling (currently, they're ages 3 and 4, so not quite yet). So school district is really a non-issue for us. I just don't want a ghetto neighborhood with loud swearing neighbours or drug dealing, and I'm hoping for close proximity (within a few blocks or along a trail) to a playground/park.

We want to be in reasonable walking distance (say, 1.5mi max) of UCCS, _OR_ in close proximity to a bus line that stops at the campus (say, <1mi to a bus stop).

We don't have a mortgage that we're paying currently (we own outright); and the mortgage that we did have was a private-party loan (between us and my parents)-- so, while we did have a mortgage, it was never recorded or notarized or anything (though we did keep fairly meticulous records, and have receipts for all the monthly payments). Not sure that would work as a rental history.

We're technically planning on rent being $900; but based on perusing craigslist and padmapper, it looks like there are a good number in the 800 range as well.

MishMash

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2015, 09:47:31 AM »
Right around UCCS is a lot of old Colorado City, so pricier rents.  The area outside of that does have quite a few loud college kids.

Check out https://coloradosprings.gov/explore-play/explore/maps/city-colorado-springs-maps for their GIS info on the town.  Spot Crime is also pretty good http://spotcrime.com/co/colorado+springs

Those two should help you pin down the safest neighborhoods.  We move, a lot, we usually start with safest neighborhoods, then do an overlay of schools, rental/housing prices etc until we narrow it down to a specific neighborhood. 

Rentals in the area generally do require a 3x monthly rent, that's what we require on our house.  However, if you have a large enough deposit up front, some places will waive it (think 3-6 months usually).  PCS season is coming to a close, if you move towards the end of September or later you may have more luck with those that are left open.

Just a heads up that the public transportation, in our experience, is seriously lacking.

If you are a beer drinker the best beer you will ever have in your life comes out of a small brew shop in a warehouse across from a strip club by the airport, beers are like 4 bucks, and the folks that own it are world champions.  Look up WineCrafters on google maps (it doesn't actually pull up the brewery by it's real name).  The guy with the BBQ truck out back is FREAKING AMAZING as well.  They were looking to expand around the time we moved, not sure if they have started construction yet.

How long are you guys planning to stay in the area?

APowers

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2015, 11:33:32 AM »
Right around UCCS is a lot of old Colorado City, so pricier rents.  The area outside of that does have quite a few loud college kids.

Check out https://coloradosprings.gov/explore-play/explore/maps/city-colorado-springs-maps for their GIS info on the town.  Spot Crime is also pretty good http://spotcrime.com/co/colorado+springs

Those two should help you pin down the safest neighborhoods.  We move, a lot, we usually start with safest neighborhoods, then do an overlay of schools, rental/housing prices etc until we narrow it down to a specific neighborhood. 

Rentals in the area generally do require a 3x monthly rent, that's what we require on our house.  However, if you have a large enough deposit up front, some places will waive it (think 3-6 months usually).  PCS season is coming to a close, if you move towards the end of September or later you may have more luck with those that are left open.

Just a heads up that the public transportation, in our experience, is seriously lacking.

If you are a beer drinker the best beer you will ever have in your life comes out of a small brew shop in a warehouse across from a strip club by the airport, beers are like 4 bucks, and the folks that own it are world champions.  Look up WineCrafters on google maps (it doesn't actually pull up the brewery by it's real name).  The guy with the BBQ truck out back is FREAKING AMAZING as well.  They were looking to expand around the time we moved, not sure if they have started construction yet.

How long are you guys planning to stay in the area?

Thanks for the map links!

I guess there are two locations for UCCS. We were thinking about the northern campus (up on Austin Bluffs), so not in Old CO City. I did notice that the bus routes were pretty limited. That's why I'm keeping bus route proximity in mind as a factor in where we end up.

We don't know exactly how long we'll end up in CO. 5-8 years? Maybe longer.

This will be our first time ever living in a rental, so all the information I have is strictly non-experiential-- so I worry that I'm missing something or that it will be harder to get approved than I think/hope.


MishMash

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2015, 02:07:03 PM »
It's not just the routes that are an issue, funding is an issue, so quite a few times they just up and cancel routes or severely limit the daily schedules or cancel all weekend service etc. 

If you are going to be there a while it's cheaper to buy then rent if you have the ability.  Rent until you get a feel for it but rents are skyrocketing in the area (we've raised our house rent 200 bucks/month in 2 years and it's still never been on the market more than 24 hours and we are still below market).  That rent covers my 15 year mortgage and then some.  One of the nice things about CO (in case you aren't from there) is that property taxes CANNOT be raised without a public vote.  In 8 years I don't think the amount has changed more then $10 a year (and that was DOWN).         

You'll have better luck probably trying to rent a house/townhouse with your income history, the apartment complexes in the area are usually sticklers, and the bad ones are REALLY bad

Word of advise if you go that route, use a real estate agent (no cost to you).  Craigslist scams ABOUND on rentals where you send someone a deposit, show up and find out it was a false listing.

annegables

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2015, 02:24:15 PM »
I have rented three times sight unseen in cities (2 HCOL 1 LCOL)I had never been to with 3 children and having to deal with schools.  It can be done.  We have saved some serious cash doing this.  For this, we have rented 2 houses and one rowhome.

First, if you are going this route, get to know the ins and outs of zillow.com.  Zillow now has the school "rating" (via greatschools.org) of the school typically assigned to that particular home.  Sometimes, however, it uses a different school in the same district with a better rating, so cross check.  even though the scores are dated, they still give a good starting point for quality of area.  Trulia is also a good site.

If possible, rent a place that is managed by a property manager, just to lessen your chance of getting screwed.  Google your city and property management companies in that area.  Talk to people in each company to get a feel for the area. 

I like spreadsheets.  Zillow has a huge wealth of info in it that I can track # of beds/baths, sqft, neighborhood quality, distance from work, etc.  By the time I am done, I really know the rental market and know what is a good deal and what isnt.

Be flexible.  If you dont really care about saving money, you can rent sight unseen with relatively little risk.  If you like to save money, being flexible helps you appreciate the "quirks" of each place you rent.  But things to ask (in email to get the answers in writing): is there mold; is the home up to building and zoning code (do all bedrooms have appropriate windows, etc); how old are kitchen appliances; how is the plumbing (can all toilets flush, sinks drain); does the house have a history of bugs (bedbugs, roaches, ants, silverfish, etc); do all rooms have electrical outlets; how old is the carpet.  Also, if you share walls with neighbors, how is the insulation?  What is the parking situation like?  If street parking only, are there days where the road is closed for street cleaning?

On google maps, do the street view and explore the neighborhoods. Are the nearby homes rundown?  Is it near a bunch of pawn shops or kwik ca$h places? 

APowers

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2015, 03:59:02 PM »
It's not just the routes that are an issue, funding is an issue, so quite a few times they just up and cancel routes or severely limit the daily schedules or cancel all weekend service etc. 

If you are going to be there a while it's cheaper to buy then rent if you have the ability.  Rent until you get a feel for it but rents are skyrocketing in the area (we've raised our house rent 200 bucks/month in 2 years and it's still never been on the market more than 24 hours and we are still below market).  That rent covers my 15 year mortgage and then some.  One of the nice things about CO (in case you aren't from there) is that property taxes CANNOT be raised without a public vote.  In 8 years I don't think the amount has changed more then $10 a year (and that was DOWN).         

You'll have better luck probably trying to rent a house/townhouse with your income history, the apartment complexes in the area are usually sticklers, and the bad ones are REALLY bad

Word of advise if you go that route, use a real estate agent (no cost to you).  Craigslist scams ABOUND on rentals where you send someone a deposit, show up and find out it was a false listing.

Good to know about the bus system.

I did notice that property taxes were super low compared to where we live in WA (our taxes on a 2bd/1ba 1100sqft are ~$1300/yr), while taxes on 1800sqft homes were less than $1k/yr. We're definitely planning on buying, but we wanted to actually live there for a while (a year-ish?) before committing to a permanent neighbourhood.

We do care about saving money, but we're pretty flexible, so long as a place is located nicely and everything works and is clean.

MishMash

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Re: Renting in a new city
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2015, 06:38:38 PM »
Yea our taxes are 1750 on a 3k sq ft house if that tells you anything (we bought it for a song as a foreclosure and redid it when we lived there).  We REALLY liked the Briargate area (which is right around Austin Bluffs, little north of it).  We always felt safe, everything I needed routinely was within biking distance in terms of grocery, pharmacy, doctors office, parks, schools etc.  It was just far enough away from the mountains that we have never had issues with flooding or with either of the massive wild fires in the past 5 years and still had gorgeous views of Pikes Peak to look at when we woke up.

Second word of advise...find a garage or covered parking with whatever you rent.  The hail storms are NO joke, you will be repairing your car from hail damage yearly if you don't (when buying ask if the roof is impact and hurricane rated, learned THAT one the hard way).  Also, make sure you have windshield repair on your car insurance for cheap...they don't sand the roads they gravel them for traction, we lost at least a windshield a winter.

And now that I've thrown a crap ton of stuff at you, I apologize, we LOVED it there, I wish we didn't have to move.  We've held out hope that hubs would get stationed back there, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon.