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gone (apartment) hunting finding the perfect pad by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

If possible, try to schedule a trip to your soon-to-be new home city before your intended move. Spend some quality time actually getting to know a little about your new town before you commit to a one-year lease. Take a couple days (or more if you have the luxury) just to explore different potential neighborhoods, taking note of how convenient it is to work, whether there's decent grocery-shopping and other amenities nearby, and whether you'd feel comfortable walking around the area alone at night. Once you've narrowed down potential areas to focus your search, you can start looking at ads. Ideally, of course, you'll want to be able to view apartments while you're in town. But if there's absolutely no way you can get out there and see a place in person, at least try to see whether you can con a friend or family member in the area into doing some scouting for you. Don't think you know anyone in your future home city? Ask around; it's a small, small, world, and you just might discover that your friend has a friend who can help you out. Even if asking a perfect stranger to check out an apartment for you is just a bit too ballsy, you can at least get a local's opinion on what the general area is like.

how much apartment can you afford?
Unless you're lucky enough to have access to unlimited funds, chances are good that the biggest factor in determining what you'll be looking for in an apartment is budget. The basic rule of thumb for determining how much rent you can afford is to take your monthly salary, and divide by three to get your rent. Now, if you're living in a big city, it's entirely possible that the number you get then will be far too puny to secure you anything resembling an actual abode. If you're willing to live frugally in other aspects of your life, and if you don't have a whole lot in the way of loans hanging over your head, you can probably get away with devoting 40% your take-home paycheck to housing. If that's still too low to land you a decent pad, you have a few options: 1) look for apartments that are a little further out from things, 2) look for a smaller apartment, or 3) get yourself a roommate.

where to find out what's for rent
So you kinda have a sense of what you're looking for in your new digs, and are ready to begin the hunt. When it comes to actually tracking down apartments that are available for rent, here are a few good places to check out…

Online and newspapers | Local newspapers (and their online incarnations) as well as nationwide apartment listing websites (like rent.com, rentnet.com and apartments.com) are probably the first places you'll look when you begin your apartment search. Another good resource to check out is your local craigslist.

Brokers | In really tight housing markets, you might find yourself having to turn to the pros for help. A broker basically does the legwork of hunting down potential apartments for you; the small catch is that you have to pay them a not-insubstantial fee for their hard labor.

University housing listings | Even if you're not actually a student, universities can be a good source for finding apartments. These days, many university housing offices have online lists as well as information on other resources for finding housing in the area. You can also mosey down onto campus to see if you see any apartment rentals posted on the bulletin boards.

keep on sidling this way

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