My partner and I have officially begun our apartment search to move in together. It’s a big move forward for us, as we have been dating for 2 years, but living separately. Fears notwithstanding, it’s very important to us both that we find an apartment where we can feel at ease, comfortable, and have enough space.

We’re both people who happen to need our alone time, and we want to avoid a situation of feeling smothered or claustrophobic.  At the same time, we also want to have a warm home where we can snuggle up to watch a television show or cook together.

I’m a self-professed expert organizer, and I’m trying to keep this apartment search as organized as possible to avoid getting dizzy amongst all the options and prices. After many apartments, I’ve learned what it takes to keep the apartment hunt organized!

1. Figure out what features you’re looking for

Chances are low that you will find your perfect apartment or house, but what features are you looking for? Which of these are an absolute must, and which are you willing to give up on?

In my case, I need the apartment to be close to a bus stop –otherwise, I have no way to get to work. That’s a feature that I absolutely cannot negotiate on. On the other hand, although I would love to have a garden, it’s not a necessity.

The First Step in Apartment Hunting: Get Organized! #apartmenthunting
I’ll take it!

2. Calculate your rent budget

How much can you each spend monthly on rent? Are you able to place an additional smaller amount for a far better apartment? You should both calculate a spectrum of prices you are willing and able to cover, from the ideal amount up to a maximum.

Of course, the rent can vary (sometimes significantly) depending on location. For instance, apartments in Denver Colorado may be cheaper than similar apartments in New York City or Los Angeles. The location matters!

In our case, my partner and I have a preferred budget. However, if we find a great apartment, we’re happy to pay the extra amount in order to live comfortably.

3. Consider additional costs

Every apartment and house have hidden additional costs. Make sure you keep track of what they are as they could add up to a significant amount. In my case, we need to pay land tax on the apartment and a building maintenance cost.

Some rental prices cover gas and water prices, while others do not. Make sure you track all this information and ask the landlord when you visit the apartment. It could make a huge difference in price.

4. Create a form to fill in

This may not be the most tech-savvy way to handle this, but I like to create a form specifying all the important information I need to ask.  You can see an old one I created here, and a great one from LifeHacker here. It made apartment hunting far easier to track and ensured that we got all necessary information to make a smart decision.


5. Use rental websites and apps

These great sites are constantly updated with the latest in available apartments. I use two or three since they usually feature different apartments.

The sites are very easy to use. For example, you can search for apartments for rent in Austin, and filter the max price you can budget and the number of rooms. If you need more detailed filters, you can even specify the number of bathrooms, pet policy, and amenities. Then all you have to do is go through the results and just like that, you’ve started your apartment search.

People can also upload photos of the homes, which help pre-judge the spot, and provide plenty of information like the size of the apartment, cost, included furnishing, etc. I can even take a look quickly on Google maps to see how close it is to a bus stop.  Plus, it avoids real estate agent finder’s fees.

Do you have any other great tips for my apartment search? Please share!