11 Steps to a Successful Long-Distance Apartment Search

By MyFirstApartment

SEATTLE (Zillow) — Moving cross-country can be stressful, particularly when you don’t know much about the city where you’re moving. A few simple steps can help ensure your search is successful, though.

Basic tips

  • Panicking won’t help. Easier said than done, but take a deep breath and realize that tens of thousands of people move cross-country every year. If you have a plan and you’re patient and stick to it, there’s no reason you too can’t make a successful move.
  • Use networking to your advantage. Tell your friends, your relatives and your co-workers you’re searching for a place; tell everyone. Asking around costs nothing and may yield immense benefits. In addition, use email, phone and social media to expand your networking reach.
  • Time your search appropriately. Different cities have different lead times for finding an apartment. For example, if you’re moving to New York City, apartments aren’t on the market until a month or less before the move-in date. Conversely, many college towns put apartments on the market three or even five or six months before the move-in date. Go online and look at the listings in the area where you’re moving and figure out how far in advance you need to begin your search.
  • Research neighborhoods first. Before you start homing in on an apartment, study the neighborhoods in the city where you’re moving and get a sense of which ones are right for you. The key categories: the personality of the neighborhood, the price of the neighborhood and the time it will take you to commute to work.
  • Do some research online: Read the local papers and look through brokers’ and real estate agents’ websites. They’ll give you a taste for what each neighborhood is like, as well as approximate pricing. If you’re worried about crime, most city police departments will provide crime statistics for each neighborhood. Also use an online mapping website to check the commute times.

Conducting the actual search