Besides beingvery inexpensive, Omaha is a lot like other urban centers. That is to say that when renting an apartment, you should expect to encounter the basic gamut of industry guidelines:
Leasing. Landlords and apartment managers generally desire a lease from you. The timeline on these contracts can range from a month-to-month contract (the gig affording you the most freedom: these are rare in Omaha) to six-months or longer. In other words, be prepared to commit to the right thing. But (obviously) don’t sign anything you’re uncomfortable with. It’s also nice to have an “apartment hunting attaché” (or “man-bag”: you decide which is more feminine…) in which you keep multiple Xerox copies of your driver’s license and proof of income. Such documents come in handy when you see a unit you like and want to show the agent or landlord you’re serious.
Pets. Small pets are generally more doable than humongous canines. But high-end complexes will require both a deposit (refundable upon termination of lease) and monthly pet rent (the latter has always perplexed me…they don’t charge “baby rent,” do they?). Be sure to check with your landlord to see if they’re fluffy-friendly or not.
Parking. Omaha was designed to be spacious, so parking isn’t usually a problem. However, in some downtown sectors (Old Market, for example), street parking is scarce and costly. The upscale apartment complexes in these areas have garages, but even then one ought to expect a monthly fee (at least $50/month).
Bills. Some landlords will offer gas-included leases, which means you won’t need to sport that oh-so fashionable indoors sweater look in wintertime. It’s not as rare as it is in some Midwestern towns to find an all utilities-included unit. If you’re not so lucky, however, budget around $60/month in summer and double that figure in winter.
Don’t have the spare time to walk every block in this town to find the right neighborhood? That’s why we did it for you. Check out these gems:
Downtown’s pretty energizing, but unless you’re rollin’ in it (studios for $1000/month and up?), you should probably check out nearby Old Market. The prices don’t reduce drastically, but enough to make you feel like you’re actually getting your money’s worth. Be forewarned, however: this is yuppie central. 1BRs for $700/month and up. 2BR condos for well less than twice that amount. Look for the units with parking included!
Dundee is hip and boasts lots of great housing. The commercial scene is a little fancy and overdone, but you’ll still find lots of youthful Brooklyn-types here. Hate it when they place the kombucha in hard-to-find places at Whole Foods? You’ll fit right in. Studios for $450/month and 1BRs for $575/month and up.
Midtown is known for its classic-looking old brick buildings—and you’d be surprised how many of these are apartment complexes. Heaps of condos and duplexes, too. Think of it as your mid-range option. You won’t be sacrificing too much “urbanity” to be here, but it’s also going to be more affordable than other sectors closer to the river. A good rule of thumb is $500/month for a 1BR. Don’t fall for a 2BR (or even 3BR, if it’s a duplex) over a thousand per month unless there’s a jetport on the roof.
Further out is Benson, a quaint alternative to Dundee. Hip? Check. Inexpensive? Check. Just don’t expect more than one tapas restaurant and one solid coffeehouse per ten-block radius around these parts. (On the other hand, there are some rockin’ music venues out on Maple Street). Sometimes 1BRs fall below $500/month, but then again so do 2BRs—so shack up!
Boom! New Omaha pad, here you come. Please just don’t invite your neighbors over for a Bright Eyes listening session, followed by impromptu readings of Malcolm and Willa. That was so 2000s.