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How to Find an Apartment in Raleigh

By: Emily Kho
October 12, 2021

Raleigh is a great place to live, home to some of the world’s friendliest and most welcoming people as you can imagine; the quality of life is pretty excellent in the City of Oaks. With an affordable cost of living, unbeatable weather, and jobs galore, Raleigh is a great place to consider if you’re looking to relocate.

As you start your search, you can figure out how to find an apartment in Raleigh on your own or choose to use our guide to simplify the process and make sure you find the best rental possible.

Here's how you can find the best neighborhood and apartment amenities in Raleigh.

How to Find the Best Raleigh Neighborhood

In North Carolina, Raleigh regularly hits the top of the list of the best places to live in the state. With a mixture of incredible weather, unbeatable quality of life, and countless entertainment options, it’s no wonder this city is so popular.

Raleigh is also one of the best cities for remote workers with its thriving job market. Yet, despite these characteristics, this North Carolina city still maintains the feel of a small-town, welcoming new residents and visitors with open arms.

As a booming city, it’s not surprising that there are so many restaurants and entertainment options to choose from. So, if you’re looking to make a move to Raleigh, you’ll want to start now. We recommend looking into some of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh to get a better idea of where you’d like to call home.

Here's where to get started!

1. Chapel Hill

While it’s not technically a Raleigh neighborhood, Chapel Hill is still a great place to live. For anyone looking to attend the University of North Carolina or work on campus, this area is a great spot to settle down in.

Unbeknownst to most, Chapel Hill is one of the country’s premier small foodie towns, which means if you like going out and trying new places to eat, this place is likely to be a hidden gem for you. All around Chapel Hill, you will find countless trendy dining options, cafes, and pubs.

But it’s not just eating and drinking that will keep you entertained in Chapel Hill. You will also experience Raleigh cultures through the Chapel Hill Museum, the Carolina Basketball Museum, and the Ackland Art Museum.

2. Cameron Village

Once a master-planned community, today Cameron Village is a cozy little neighborhood and one of the best places to live in Raleigh. Also referred to as the Village District, Cameron Village is home to great shopping, with stores ranging from independently owned boutiques to widely-known national brand names.

In Cameron Village, you can enjoy the convenience of being minutes away from Downtown Raleigh without being right in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle. Much like Chapel Hill, Cameron Village is a bit of a foodie town, where you can spend your entire day shopping and eating around the neighborhood.

With close proximity to the downtown area, many young professionals flock to Cameron Village as a way of removing themselves from their working area while still maintaining a reasonable commute time.

3. Downtown Raleigh

As you can expect from any downtown area, Downtown Raleigh provides its residents with countless urban amenities with great walkability. You will never find yourself bored in a neighborhood like Downtown Raleigh, with many options to choose from each night, like live music or Friday night art walks.

Young professionals love living in Downtown Raleigh, and you will often find tech workers and millennials in this neighborhood. Startups have begun flocking to Downtown Raleigh in Research Triangle Park, attracting even more techies.

Not only is this neighborhood great for walking, but it also has excellent public transportation connections. The R-Line is close by in case you need to get out of the city for a bit. Otherwise, check out a ballet, opera, or concert one day in Downtown Raleigh.

4. University Park

Despite its name, University Park is home to a wide range of residents, not just students. This neighborhood has renters from all walks of life, including young professionals and families. Giving credit to its name, University Park has several highly ranked public schools, attracting families from across the state.

The biggest attraction in University Park is the Raleigh Rose Garden, boasting over six acres of garden with 60 different flower varieties, including over 1,200 roses. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date spot or a unique place to take an afternoon stroll, the Raleigh Rose Garden has it all.

You can even catch a live performance in the Little Theatre on the weekends. This theater is one of the oldest community theaters still operating in the nation.

5. North Hills

North Hills, located within the Midtown district, is one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Raleigh. Shopping centers near North Hills consist of everything from independent boutiques to high-end, nationally recognized chains.

The upscale neighborhood of North Hills spans over 100 acres, with housing options including condos and apartment buildings. You’ll also find tons of cafes, craft beer bars, and retail shops here.

Aside from shopping, North Hills also boasts a tremendous local nightlife scene. The Ritz has a nightclub, which hosts both country and rock music acts, while Midtown Park has tons of green space for those who love a good picnic or outdoor fitness class.

How Much are Apartments in Raleigh?

Considering moving to Raleigh? Before you get started packing your things, you'll want to first learn about the average rent prices in the area.

Average Rent in Raleigh

Raleigh rents have increased by 2.83% compared to last month and are up by 22.09% compared to the previous year. Here's more information to help you determine your budget:

  • 2% of apartments in Raleigh cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 80% of apartments in Raleigh cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 16% of apartments in Raleigh cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 1% of apartments in Raleigh cost over $3,000 per month.

How to Find Cheap Apartments in Raleigh

You might have already started the process by figuring out how to find an apartment in Raleigh, but you might be having a difficult time finding a cheap apartment. We're here to help you by providing you with all the resources you need to find a quality and affordable Raleigh apartment.

First, you’ll need to figure out how to budget for your first apartment. Keep in mind that your budget should be unique to your current financial situation. However, there are some basics that you should always make sure to cover, including costs associated with things like:

  • Cable/internet
  • Electricity
  • Rent
  • Moving expenses
  • Heating and gas
  • Etc.

Although it can seem a bit daunting, totaling up all of your expenses is crucial. Thankfully, there are ways to help reduce some of your costs if you worry about covering all of your monthly payments. For example, you might want to take advantage of the seasonality in renting or try looking for different move-in specials.

What's the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Raleigh?

Seasonality is prevalent in the rental market across the country. You’ll find that seasonality can impact rent prices significantly, especially so in Raleigh. Keeping an eye on the rental trends in seasonality will only help you find a more affordable apartment if you’re able to control the timing of your move.

You can usually expect more apartment availability during the winter months since people tend to be caught up in the holidays and therefore less interested in moving. In the same regard, movement tends to pick up again in the summertime, making the rental market more competitive.

It’s safe to assume that apartments will become more expensive to rent in Raleigh in the summer versus the winter. Use this to your advantage during your apartment searches.

How to Find an Apartment

Learn the steps to finding an apartment in Raleigh! Here's the process:

Determine Your Budget

As you begin your apartment search, you’ll want to keep your budget in mind. You can start by checking out the 30% rule amongst the several different budgeting techniques out there.

According to the 30% rule, more than 30% of your gross income, or pre-taxed monthly take-home pay, should go towards your monthly rent. Determining what rent you can afford can be found by dividing your monthly income by three. If you want to figure it out based on your annual income, divide your gross annual salary by 40 instead.

Figure out your minimum gross income when moving to Raleigh by using the 30% rule backward. In Raleigh, for example, the average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,545. You can use the 30% rule to determine your minimum gross income by multiplying the average rent price by three, meaning your gross income should be $4,635 per month or $55,620 annually.

Understand the Trust Cost of Renting

Although the 30% rule helps get you started with your budget, keep in mind that it works best as a baseline only. You will also have to account for hidden rental costs that may arise through the process, in addition to standard living costs.

How much apartment can you afford? Now that you know your budget, you can get a better idea of what you can afford by taking a closer look at some of the hidden apartment expenses, including:

Your specific financial circumstance, including how it might change with your move, is another determining factor in your budget to consider. You may realize that the 30% rule doesn't quite apply to you if you have other high bills aside from your rent, such as medical expenses, student loans, etc.

Thankfully, we want to help. To help you determine the monthly rent you can afford, hidden costs and all, we have carefully designed a Rent Calculator. We created this helpful tool with tons of research just for renters. Using the rent calculator, you can better understand what type of rental budget you are working with as you begin your apartment hunt.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Raleigh is an incredible city with a wide range of rental options, from traditional homes to modern high rises. The next step after establishing your budget is narrowing your search to find the best apartment. Cut down on some of your options by figuring out your priorities regarding specific amenities.

Amenities

You’ll need to list needs versus wants in terms of amenities for your new Raleigh apartment. Include all the amenities you love, such as onsite laundry, bike storage, proximity to public transportation, or dedicated outdoor space.

Prioritize your list, including your needs versus wants, once you know what you are looking for. In doing so, you’ll save time in the long run.

Raleigh Location/Neighborhood

With so many great options to choose from, when it comes to finding the best neighborhood in Raleigh, it will ultimately come down to personal preference. Consider things like the overall vibe of the community while also factoring in things like convenience and walkability. If you have a pet or a family, you might want to consider neighborhoods with more space or outdoor options.

Or, if you don’t require as much space, you may prefer to be centralized or closer to work. If this is the case for you, consider a downtown or downtown-adjacent neighborhood as the ideal neighborhood.

Prioritize your desire for accessibility to extracurriculars to determine which environment is best for you. Things like what types of options you’re interested in are important to think of before signing your next lease in Raleigh.

Consider Your Commute Time

Your next apartment in Raleigh should factor in more than just your dream location, such as things like your commute time to and from work.

Raleigh has a walk score of 31 and a transit score of 30. Biking is another mode of transportation worth considering in Raleigh, as the city has earned a bike score of 41. If you have a vehicle or plan to purchase one before your move, these specific rankings may not necessarily be as crucial to you.

Public Transportation in Raleigh

GoRaleigh operates the city of Raleigh’s public transportation. You can pay GoRaleigh Fares on a per-ride basis at $1.25, a daily basis for $2.50, a weekly basis for $12.00, or a monthly basis for $40.00.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

Make sure you take part in an apartment tour before signing a lease to your new apartment to ensure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Not only will you be able to see all of the apartment’s amenities, but you may also have the opportunity to apply on the spot if you decide that you like it.

Keep your essential renter materials readily available and always prepare for your apartment tours ahead of time. Make sure you bring:

  • ID
  • References
  • Application fee

When it’s your time to pay for your application fee, you’ll need to make sure you know what forms your landlord or property manager allows. Depending on their preference, they may accept any payment type, including cash, credit card, or check. Find out this information ahead of time to have the proper payment form if you decide to move forward with the application process.

Understanding how the application process works is another crucial step. Gather any necessary materials you may need ahead of time, rather than after your tour.

Take time to check that all of the amenities function correctly as you go through your apartment tour. If something was on the listing that you do not see in person, or if something isn’t working correctly, don’t be afraid to speak up.

It’s a good idea to jot down a list of questions ahead of time. Consider asking questions about pet rules, painting, and other crucial building rules. You may forget your essential questions in the middle of all the excitement of touring your potential new apartment, and having them handy will make sure you get the answers you need.

Check out our list of 20 questions to ask when renting an apartment if you're not quite sure where to start. See if any apply to your situation and jot them down on your list. Ask lots of questions to ensure you make the most of your apartment tour.

Applying for Your Raleigh Apartment

Eventually, you will have a successful apartment tour. Once you find an apartment you love you're ready to apply for your new Raleigh apartment!

Make sure you are prepared for your tour for the quickest and easiest way to begin the application process. Even if you come with all the necessary materials, you may find more things to gather after your tour.

Your landlord or property manager may request rental references as part of the application process. Rental references will typically be previous landlords. Whoever they are, you should always reach out to them ahead of time so they can prepare for the call. Boost your chances of getting into your apartment quicker by using this strategy, keeping you one step ahead of your competition.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any previous rental history at the time of your application. Most landlords and property managers accept personal references as an alternative. Always ask about any required references during the apartment tour just to be sure.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

According to a rental fraud report by Apartment List, 43.1% of renters in the country have encountered an apartment listing they suspected was fraudulent. 6.4% of those renters have lost money from these rental scams. Remember to exercise caution and follow these tips for avoiding rental scams.

Using Apartment List to Find Your Raleigh Apartment

Don’t forget, even though the apartment hunting process can be overwhelming at times, it should be an enjoyable one. To start your apartment hunt on a positive note, we want to congratulate you on starting your search for a beautiful new apartment and life in Raleigh!

Here's how it works: We’ll start the process by getting to know you a little better. You'll answer a few simple questions that will help us find the best matches explicitly tailored to what you're looking for. We'll then take that information to mix and match your personalized results to help make it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location, and amenities for you.

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EMILY KHO
Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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