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It’s that time again: you’re on the lookout for a new apartment to rent. But with the number of available units greater than ever, how can you make sure you don’t overlook your perfect abode?
It’s easy. You just need to thoroughly scout the leading apartment search sites. Sure, it’s not a fast process, but it’s one that’s certain to land you the accommodation of your dreams.
Here are some of the best apartment rental sites for the United States and beyond.
Rent.com is an apartment finder site that covers both apartments and houses. All the properties you see are available for medium- and long-term rentals; it doesn’t deal with short-term accommodation or property purchases.
The site has a selection of tools geared towards different types of apartment seekers. For example, there are filters for pet owners, off-campus housing searches for students, a way to find independent living facilities for senior renters, and even military base proximity filters for members of the armed forces.
Some of the listed apartments have 3D virtual tours, but they are available on a case-by-case basis. There’s also a dedicated Moving Centre. It can supply you with free quotes based on factors such as moving distance and apartment size.
One of the big problems with apartment search sites is that they typically require a property owner or letting agency to list their property directly. Ergo, all the properties are not available on all the domains.
PadMapper offers a solution of sorts. It pulls apartment listings from other companies’ data and plots them all on a map. Sites that have their listings on PadMapper include Airbnb, ForRent, and PadList. Craigslist used to be included but was removed after a particularly controversial lawsuit.
A couple of features are worth mentioning. Firstly, the Drawing tool. You can use it to simultaneously search disparate areas of a map at the same time. And secondly, there’s a way to hide listings that you’re not interested in.
PadMapper has apartment listings in both the United States and Canada.
Zillow has built its reputation as a must-use website for buyers, but it’s also one of the best apartment finder sites on the web.
Apartment listings on Zillow are incredibly detailed. Yes, there’s all the usual stuff like floorplans and basic features, but there are also plenty of other features that you won’t readily find elsewhere.
For example, it integrates GreatSchools ratings so you can see the quality of the nearby education facilities. And there’s a “Walk Score” and a “Transit Score” for the neighborhood you’re looking at, thus giving you an idea of how easy it is to get around.
Zillow even provides a gateway for you to pay your rent, though not all apartments are supported.
The Zillow-owned HotPads is one of our favorite apartment search sites.
The site is primarily aimed at urban renters where competition for units is fierce and new listings disappear within hours of going live. To that end, HotPads offers phone notifications for new listings that match your customized preferences, a map search that supports everything from dog park proximity to nearby glass bottle recycling facilities, and a commute time calculator.
HotPads also tries to engender a feeling of trust. It provides landlord ratings, real-time reviews, updates from other users, and verified contact information.
You may have noticed a trend among the apartment search sites we’ve looked at so far—they all try to stand out from their competitors by offering dozens of fancy features.
But not everyone wants countless filters and endless amounts of information to filter through. If you would prefer a more straightforward apartment hunting experience, check out Lovely.
To begin your apartment search, just enter the city you want to live in; there’s aren’t dozens of questions you need to answer. And property listings are easy to digest— there are a few photos, the price, a list of basic amenities, and a short description.
Like Rent.com, ApartmentGuide is an apartment rental site that provides default filters that specifically cater to a certain subset of hunters.
With a simple click on the homepage, you can find college apartments, military apartments, corporate apartments, senior apartments, cheap apartments, and luxury apartments in the area where you want to live.
Perhaps the similarities shouldn’t be surprising; the same parent company, RentPath, owns the two brands. The firm also owns Lovely and Rentals.com, showing just how small the apartment rental world really is.
Note: Many of the properties on ApartmentGuide are owned and operated by large management companies. If you’d prefer to rent from a private landlord, look elsewhere.
Zumper (which also owns PadMapper) is the best apartment search site if you’re particularly sensitive to price considerations.
For example, it is one of the only apartment listing sites which lets you filter for Section 8 properties. For those who don’t know, Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 is a US government program which provides financial assistance to renters from low-income families.
And unlike many of its competitors, Zumper also offers short-term rentals. If you’re planning to spend a couple of months in a city—perhaps because of a work project—the site is definitely worth browsing.
Craigslist had to be included, didn’t it? With localized sites around the world, Craigslist should be able to find you an apartment regardless of where you live.
However, the site has a few issues which let it down. From a usability perspective, the available filters are nowhere near as numerous as those you’d see on a dedicated rental search site.
But more worryingly, Craigslist has a real problem with scam listings.
Remember the golden rule: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never hand over any money before you’ve thoroughly vetted an apartment’s authenticity.
Use Social Media to Find an Apartment
Finally, don’t rule out social media when you’re searching for a new apartment. Sites like Reddit and Facebook have plenty of groups and communities that’ll help you find somewhere to live. You might even be able to find much better deals than you’d find on regular apartment finder sites.
For more information about how to successfully execute a house move, look through the tips on how to find your ideal city based on work and lifestyle. Once you decide on a neighborhood to begin your apartment search, compare rent rates using Rentometer. And remember to check for bed bugs before you close the deal on an apartment.