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How to Rent an Apartment Out of State

By: Justin Chaplin
March 21, 2019

Life happens and sometimes we need to find an apartment remotely. You might have accepted a job offer and need to rent an apartment out of state, but can’t meet with the landlord to physically sign the lease. Or what if you decided it is time to move cross country, you know where you want to live but don’t have time to check out apartments before you arrive. Is it impossible to find a place remotely without visiting? The answer is no.

Renting an apartment out of state and even out of the county is completely possible and can save you time and money by forgoing a trip to the new city. Moving to a place you haven’t seen in person can be risky, so follow these tips to ensure you end up in a home you love.

Do Your Research

If you are moving to a city you’ve never been to, you’ll need to do a ton of research about the city before deciding on an apartment. Check out our local guides to find the neighborhood that suits your lifestyle.

Have any friends or family living in the new city? Give them a call and pick their brains. Looking for a neighborhood that’s walkable and bikeable? Check out the neighborhood on Walk Score. After finding a few neighborhoods that you’re interested in, you can begin searching for apartments in those areas. You can also ask questions on City-Data forums to get advice from the city’s locals.

Plan Your Commute

Use the power of Google Maps to map out your commute. If you know what your new schedule will be, you can see how traffic will look during your commute times. If you’re driving to work, simply plug in the neighborhood and your new office address during the times you’ll be commuting.

If walking, do the same, but the time won’t matter as much. Also, consider using public transportation. A simple search Google search will give you tons of information on transit options.

If you don't feel like spending out on Google Maps, just take Apartment List quiz! Just enter the address of your new workplace, how much time you'd like to spend on commute, whether you prefer to drive, bike or use public transit, and we'll put together a list of apartments that fit your criteria!

Contact the Landlord

For the apartments that make your shortlist, get in touch with the landlord. Calling instead of emailing will probably be more efficient. Let the landlord know of your current situation, that you are trying to rent an apartment out of state, and how you can’t visit in person. Most will be accommodating, and have methods for lease signing for these situations.

Ask for Photos

Yes, you will see photos of what a unit looks like when searching the apartment online. However, this could lead to some issues. They might be displaying a freshly redone unit, and you could be in for a surprise when you open the door to an outdated unit. Ask for detailed pictures of the apartment that capture the layout, appliances, and apartment details. If possible, see if the landlord can take you on a video tour of the unit.

Consider the Lease Options

After doing an extensive amount of research, hopefully you end up in a neighborhood and apartment you love. If things don’t go as smoothly, you can always consider shorter leases.

Short-term leases aren’t offered by many landlords, but if you can find one, it could be worth it. This will allow you to test out the neighborhood and get a feel for it. If you don’t love it, you can move on after a short period of time.

If it’s everything you’re looking for, you can commit to a longer lease. There are some downsides, so know the differences between long and short-term leases.

Use Apartment List to Rent an Apartment out of State

Just take our short quiz, answer a couple of questions on your your preferred amenities, price range, and commute, and we'll find the best matches with up-to-date pricing and availability and rent specials.

Prepare Your Paperwork

Your landlord will be requesting documents from you if you decide to apply, so make sure to have everything in order.

If you are starting a new job, have the job offer in your application to prove you’ll have a stable income. Also, include pay stubs from your previous employer with your application.

For all the paperwork you’ll need, check out our comprehensive guide to apartment application process. You might also be asked for rental references, so make sure to have those ready with proper contact information.

With today’s technology, finding an apartment remotely has never been easier. Just be sure to do your research, and be proactive in communicating with your potential landlord. You’ll be able to find a home you love without being able to physically see the apartment.

Additional Resources

Rent Calculator
How to Find a Pet-Friendly Apartment
How Much Should I Spend on Rent? Hidden Rental Costs

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