Apartment Hunting: Where to Search!

Apartment rentals
Moving away from home or away from college for the first time can be really daunting. But nothing can seem scarier than living in a new city, especially when you're starting out.

When I moved to New York City after college, I was really overwhelmed with the amount of information being presented to me about the city in general. For me, though, the craziest issue that I faced was trying to find an apartment.

In an effort to make this task easier for others, I'm going to go ahead and list some of the resources that I used when looking for my apartments.

Fun fact: the three main options below also apply to anyone moving internationally!



The website that I used the most during my search for an apartment was PadMapper, which is a very simple site that allows you to pick your city and set your requirements via filters.

Some of the benefits:

  • It compiles information from different sites where apartments are posted and centralizes them for quick reference (instead of going to each of those individual sites).
  • The map view is really great for anyone looking for apartments in one specific area or particular neighborhoods.
  • Filters in the tool are really useful and relevant to anyone who has stricter requests.
  • It's free!

And now for some of the aspects that I didn't necessarily like:

  • The map can get crowded if your filters are more lax; it takes time to go through each listing to find the diamond in the rough.
  • Some of the listings expire pretty quickly, so you have to spend extra time ensuring that the apartment is still even available.

Overall, this was one of the best options for me when looking for rentals, so I highly recommend it.

Real Estate Agent or Broker

This is, in my opinion, the most reliable option but also definitely the priciest. When I moved the first few times (to new cities and also between apartments in the same city), I used a broker or real estate agent when I either didn't have enough time to do research myself or when I just wanted convenience.

Finding a broker or agent is as simple as searching for one on Google and checking Yelp or Google+ reviews to see who is on the top of that city's market.

Here are the points that I like most about using a broker or real estate agent:

  • By far, the practicality and the convenience of using a broker or agent is key.
    • Essentially, you just find one in the area you're moving to and then provide all of the information for your dream apartment.
    • Appointments to view the listings are all scheduled by the broker based on your schedule.
    • You don't have to look through photos or filters or take the time looking at random information like how far from work you'll live.

There are only two downsides that I've experienced with this option:

  • It is very expensive. On top of your apartment deposit and first monthly payment, you'll also usually have to pay an additional month to the broker or agent, unless they charge a percentage. Be sure to check the fees before you use their services.
  • You're now relying on someone else to find your apartment. If you like being in control of these kinds of things, this may not be the best choice for you.

We have one more option to go through in detail before listing out some alternatives, one that people are very conflicted about.


Craiglist is often a controversial topic amongst my group of friends, as some are huge fans and others think that it is a black hole of misery and despair.

While I tend to think more optimistically than most, I usually agree more with those who do not like to use this site. However, I feel obligated to include it due to the successes that I have seen and will provide the information in as much of an unbiased way as possible.

For anyone using this option to look for apartments, here are some perks:

  • So many people use craigslist to advertise rentals. There are literally hundreds of listings at any given moment in the major metro cities around the world. If you want choices, this is a great option.
  • A lot of the listers are property owners, so you can try to avoid any additional broker's or agent fees.
  • The website offers a map view functionality of apartment listings so that you can check possible rentals geographically.

Now for the disadvantages:

  • Scams. I won't sugar coat this: you can get scammed with anything online, but craigslist tends to be especially guilty of this.
    • If you use this option, be sure to do your research. Does any of the information seem weird? Is the price not matching the description at all? Are the photos the same as 3 other listings that you already looked at?
    • Any doubts can usually be resolved pretty easily by simply calling or emailing the lister with your questions. However, be sure never to give away any personal information such as credit history, banking numbers, etc., until you receive any credential verifications.
  • With apartments coming and going so quickly, craigslist has old or outdated listings that the posters will not remove from the site once an apartment has been rented. It's a good idea to call the person listing the apartment to check its availability before getting your hopes up.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of possibilities for finding a new apartment, so I've provided some additional links below for your reference.

Other resources:


Final Notes

Sure, moving is difficult - but finding an apartment doesn't have to be. Take your time to research different possibilities and options before taking the plunge and choosing the first option with a dishwasher.

If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, please share them below or with us on Twitter. I would love to hear about your experiences looking for apartments!

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