In a perfect world, you would have plenty of time to acquaint yourself with a new city before you move there. In the real world, you may interview for a job in a conference call and start work in a new state almost immediately thereafter; you won’t have the luxury to drive all over the city looking for your dream apartment. While no method will remove the anxiety of renting an apartment in another state, tackling the task with strategies to reduce risks can make your move less nerve-racking.
Use an Apartment Finder Service
If you can’t afford the time or the travel expense to visit the state in which you plan to move, you can hedge your bets by using an apartment locator service. These services operate independently from landlords and exist to serve apartment hunters’ needs. For a fee, a locator service will determine your priorities, needs and budget, and find an apartment that adequately suits you. While this service isn’t free, you’ll move knowing that a professional already vetted your apartment before you’re unpacking the moving truck.
Negotiate a Short-Term Lease
Landlords don’t like the inconvenience of showing a property or screening tenants, and prefer the long-term stability a lease provides. Many will pressure you or offer you incentives to sign a lengthy lease agreement. Avoid the temptation. If your new apartment proves substandard or in a part of town you decide you don’t like, you’ll want the flexibility to start an in-state hunt for an apartment as soon as you can. If your landlord pressures you for a lease, try to negotiate to move in on a one-month basis with the option to extend the lease to a longer term at the end of the month.
Take Advantage of Online Resources
The Internet is chock full of resources that help apartment hunters find a new home. Although apartment managers may manipulate ratings and feedback on publicly accessible sites, you can use former-tenant feedback found online to get a general impression of the property, as well as peruse photos and amenities available at each site. Other resources such as social networking groups may provide a slightly more credible method in which apartment owners and renters can contribute anonymously.
Always Ask Questions
After you select a few potential apartments, call their leasing agents to gather more information about the rental. An apartment manager isn’t going to divulge the weaknesses of his property over the phone, so ask a wide range of questions, from the age of the unit and the vacancy rate to questions about the neighborhood. While some unscrupulous managers may stretch the truth, you’ll be able to ferret out potential problems before you arrive at the site.
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.