How to Find an Apartment Out of State
Are you thinking of moving cross-country for a new job, to be closer to family, or simply because you're tired of your current living situation? If so, learning how to find an apartment out of state can be daunting – especially if you're not familiar with the area.
But don't worry, we're here to help! In this post, we'll outline essential rental tips for finding and renting an apartment in a new area that interests you. Read on for all the info you need to get started.
Look to Social Media
Whether you're active on Facebook, Reddit, or another social platform, firsthand reviews from current city residents will be a powerful asset in your search. Look for Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and subreddits from specific neighborhoods you’re interested in living in.
Compare the City to Nearby Cities
Every city is unique and has different things to offer prospective residents. Start your research by examining your lifestyle. For example, if you're an avid cyclist, you'll need to compare different city bike scenes and infrastructures. Add nightlife, recreation, and cost of living to your list.
The city’s walk, bike, and transit score can also help you plan the best mode of transportation. And don't be afraid to go back to your trusty social media sites to ask locals about the infrastructure and how reliable the transit really is.
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.
Ask around your personal network to find out if they have friends in the area you can talk to. You can also ask questions on City-Data forums to get advice from the city’s locals.
Determine Your Budget
Having a budget is essential before beginning your search for an apartment in a new city. This will help you rule out certain neighborhoods and apartments outside your price range. It's also a good idea to have an emergency fund saved up in case of any moving costs that may come up unexpectedly.
When determining your budget, factor in security deposits, the first month's rent, and the cost of living in the city you're moving to. Cost of living expenses can vary greatly from city to city, so it's important to do your research and be prepared for how much things will actually cost once you're there.
How much is the cost of living in your new city? Check out our handy cost of living calculator for a solid estimate.
Decide on Amenities
Apartment amenities are those extra features that make apartment-living more comfortable. They could range from a simple room with a view to the rarer (unexpected) amenities, such as an indoor golf simulator.If you're always on the go, you'll need amenities that support efficiency, such as a dishwasher. However, if you're a homebody who loves streaming Netflix, you might prefer free WiFi service throughout your building.
To help keep you organized during the apartment hunting process, we created a checklist that includes a breakdown of some of the most popular apartment amenities.
An on-site fitness center eliminates membership fees and commuting time to workout. It's also a great way to meet your neighbors!
Laundry is a pain no matter how you do it. Or you can choose an apartment with laundry facilities or an in-unit set-up.
Not all cities offer central air conditioning and heat. You can invest in the expense yourself or choose an apartment with eco-friendly solutions. Just make sure you consider your utility bills before you sign a lease.
Plan Your Commute
If you're moving to a new city for work, it's important to plan out your commute before settling into your new apartment. Google Maps is a great tool for this – simply enter your place of work and desired location, and you will give an estimated travel time. You can even see how traffic looks at specific times of the day.
Keep in mind that traffic patterns can vary, so be sure to factor in extra time for your commute. If possible, ask any locals you may know about the rush hour to get a better idea of how long it will actually take to get to and from work.
Visit the Surrounding Area via Google Maps & Yelp
Google Maps is a great way to get an idea of what the surrounding area of your new city will be like. Simply enter the address of your potential new apartment and explore the neighborhood. You can see local businesses, parks, and other landmarks that will give you a feel for the area.
If you want an even better idea of what local businesses, parks, or restaurants are like, you can check out their Yelp pages. There, you'll find reviews from actual customers who have visited in the past.
Contact the Landlord
When you're looking for an apartment out of state, it can be helpful to call landlords directly instead of sending emails. This way, you can explain your situation upfront and get a feel for their personality and how they communicate. You'll find that most have steps in place for candidates in similar moving situations.
You can also ask specific questions about the apartment and the surrounding area. If possible, try to schedule a real-time video tour so you can see the unit for yourself.
Ask for Photos
Skip glossy marketing photos of the apartments you’re interested in renting. Instead, ask for detailed pictures of the apartment that capture the layout, appliances, and apartment details. If possible, ask the landlord for a real-time video tour of the unit.
Consider the Lease Options
Before switching cities, you'll need to decide if you want a short-term or long-term lease. A short-term lease is a great option if you're not sure how you'll like the city or neighborhood, letting you test things out before making a commitment. Keep in mind that short-term leases aren't offered by all landlords, so you may need to do some extra searching to find one.
However, if it’s everything you’re looking for, you can commit to a longer lease. Some renters find comfort in knowing they'll be set up somewhere for an extended period of months.
Read Online Reviews
When it comes to reviews, it's easy to get lost in star ratings on apartment listing sites and Google Reviews.
To avoid getting caught up in the marketing, it's important to know what to look out for among the sea of reviews. Here are the most important details to consider when you are checking out apartment reviews.
Repairs and Maintenance
If there's an issue in your apartment, it's important that it gets handled quickly and efficiently. It's not a good sign if you're reading tons of negative reviews about a complex's communication speed, efficiency, and effectiveness.
While it's important to take negative reviews and complaints with a grain of salt, there's usually some merit to them. Whether complaints regarding noisy neighbors, pests, or broken down appliances make their way online, it's usually a result of a complex's inability to resolve an issue.
Many apartment complexes have staff members that handle things like cleaning, maintenance, and administrative tasks. Keep an eye out for reviews mentioning staff for some insight about who you'll be encountering from day to day.
As you start reading through the reviews, scroll back to old ones. You may discover the apartment recently underwent a management change or updates. These give clues to why reviews suddenly improve.
There’s safety in numbers! Check the number of reviews and be weary if you can only find a few.
Go on a Virtual Tour
The pandemic forced the rental industry to embrace the virtual tour. The technology helps connect landlords and apartment managers with prospective renters so they can show them an apartment unit. You won't find this option at every unit you visit, but many units will offer a virtual tour if you ask!
During a virtual tour, you can take a walk-through of an apartment you're interested in, ask questions, and try to envision your life in the unit.
Once you've had your virtual tour, you can decide whether you want to move forward in the apartment application process.
Prepare Your Paperwork
Your landlord will request 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.
Beware of Rental Scams
No one wants to learn that they have spent thousands of dollars on an apartment unit that they will never rent.
Here are some of the most effective ways to avoid rental scams.
Never wire money to a prospective landlord or property manager. Using digital money wiring services such as Venmo or CashApp can be just as harmful as handing over cash. Use a check to leave a paper trail in case you are scammed.
Always be skeptical. Generally, being skeptical saves you from being a victim. If an offer sounds too good to be true, such as you don't receive a credit check or the listing lacks pertinent details, stay away from it. Even if it's not a scam, you don't need the headaches in your life.
Reverse search all images. Some of the most popular scams involve using images and details from real apartment postings and reposting them with different contact information and other details. The goal is to put you in contact with the scammer. A simple reverse image search can help you identify a photo's source and ensure that it is legit.
How to Move to Another State Without a Job
Now that we’ve talked about how to find an apartment out of state, you also need to consider your job situation.
Whether you’ve recently graduated and are looking for a new change, looking to be closer to family, or landing a dream job in a new city, you’ll need to find someplace to live. There’s no way around it–it’s tricky finding an apartment out of state without a job. But it’s sometimes a necessary step if you just graduated and need time to job hunt. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Start Applying for Jobs
You’ll need a steady stream of income for your apartment, so applying for jobs in your new city as soon as possible is essential. Consider using a friend or family member’s local address while you search. An out-of-state candidate could be less desirable to employers because it might cost the company relocation expenses.
Consider looking online for remote jobs that will help you land an apartment and get you to know your new city. You can always look for something different once you sign a lease and are moved in.
Grow Your Network
Build your network in your state to find apartment deals. Spread the word that you’re looking for a job and apartment to gain insider information to lead you in the right direction.
Check out Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, and even Instagram locations to see if you know anyone through a friend of a friend in the area. Remember, there’s no shame in reaching out as a friendly gesture.
While searching for a job in your new state, you don’t have to turn away from work. Any additional income you can get right now will only help you in the long run.
Moving to a new state costs a lot more than your monthly rent. You can’t forget about moving costs, deposits, temporary housing, etc. It all adds up quickly. Even if you’ve got a good cushion of savings, it’s always better to hang on to as much as you can through your move.
Check out freelancing sites like Fiverr and Upwork to help get your foot in the door.
Think about Temporary Housing
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again - moving to a new state can get expensive. If you’re in a pinch and need to move ASAP, you still have options.
While saving up for a long-term lease and the upfront costs that come with it, you might want to consider some short-term options. For example, renting an Airbnb for a month or going on a month-to-month basis in your new state can help you save until you can permanently move into a long-term lease.
Get a Cosigner
Lastly, if you’re moving to a new state without a job and are looking to rent an apartment, you may need to get a guarantor.
A lease guarantor is legally required to pay your rent if you can’t do it yourself. Guarantors are often parents or financially stable family members. Other reasons you might need a lease include limited or bad credit, no job, or low income. New graduates often have guarantors, especially in expensive cities like New York.
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.
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