It certainly isn’t your grandmother’s apartment search experience anymore. Not even close. You can imagine how the process used to be. Cup of freshly brewed coffee, a donut, the Sunday paper, all while making wide circles over ads that looked interesting. You’d gather up your list and head out on Monday morning, hit the streets, drive to some of your favorites or maybe you’d even pick up the phone and call around.
Trouble with that approach, as we now know, is the limited amount of information you had at your fingertips. Newspaper descriptions manipulated by marketing departments have a tendency to be predictable, loaded with too many descriptive phrases (an inordinately quaint living space!) and certainly doesn’t fill in the information you’d really like to know. It required a lot of work and effort on your part to narrow down your choices.
Fast forward a whole bunch of years and the internet comes along and search engines and coffee holders using CD trays. Boom. Sunday mornings now become pajama days while you surf the internet and dig into information about your future home. Gone are vending machine style racks from street corners. Print magazines and circling newspaper ads with your pen have been declared dead.
Still though, even with new ways of finding an apartment, your level of apartment searching geekiness will vary. Some just aren’t willing to go the extra mile to become a master apartment searcher. These people just stick to sorting through gallons of ugly Craigslist ads. Here’s how you can raise your Apartment Searching Geek Meter:
Get off Craigslist.
Craigslist was designed to allow a person to transact business with another person. Then, marketers and businesses got involved and have mucked up the works with SPAM, multiple postings, and bad content. Honestly people, it’s hard to understand why anyone wants to root through these lame headlines (FREE RENT SPECIAL TODAY!) and see boring Times New Roman style descriptions. RentSocial, Padmapper, and Hotpads all provide a much better experience, are more intuitive and are much better looking. Lots of these sites pull from Craigslist but at least you won’t be forced to spend your time ON Craigslist, an ugly time waster.
Who better to understand what type of place you’d be interested in moving in to then your friends? It could be as easy as asking your friends advice as a status update or by using Facebook’s new search graph. Ask someone on Twitter where the best places to live in Orlando are and someone can tell you. Search check-ins on Foursquare to find those happening places that people are checking in to.
Everything is mobile these days. Who doesn’t own a smartphone? Yelp has a great mobile application that can tell you about apartment complexes near your current location. Lots of apartment internet services have their own mobile apps. RentSocial, ApartmentGuide, ForRent all have a great mobile application that can help you in your search, which can take place on your phone, at a restaurant, while your wife is asking you about something. Really – it happens.
Check your review sites
After you’ve narrowed down your search, search Google for reviews about that apartment complex. The much renounced Apartment Ratings is the go to stop for ratings on most apartment complexes. The reviews aren’t always accurate but you can get a pretty good picture about an apartment complex after reading some of them or you can be entertained. Seriously – some are really funny.
Use a bookmarking tool
Writing things down is so 2000. Now in your apartment search as you go across the web, it’s easy to Pin a site you like or use a service like Clipix to store your favorite sites in one spot. Plus you can share your collected bookmarks on your favorite social networking platforms to get people’s opinions. So geeky.
What geeky tips or tricks have you used when searching for an apartment? We’d love to know, so leave a comment, take a mint.