HC’s Guide to Apartment Hunting

Moving off campus is an extremely exciting yet nerve-wracking and anxiety inducing experience. I have watched way too many House Hunters episodes to have a realistic perception on what apartments actually look like, so I was very overwhelmed when I first started apartment hunting. My freshman year, my friends and I decided that we would want to live off campus the following year, but sadly for us we started the search way too late in the game and had to settle for #dormlife again. The following year we were determined to find the ~perfect~ apartment, but we quickly realized that apartment hunting goes from “yay!” to “oy-vey" in a short amount of time. Luckily, I have learned some tips and tricks that made my apartment hunting easy as pie, and hopefully these tips will help some of you!

1. Start Early

I would suggest starting to call places around October. However, some realtors do not require their current tenants to renew their leases until late October, and some don’t require a decision until January. Because of this, some places will not have any known availabilities to be able to show before these times. Don’t panic! If you can’t view an apartment, that means nobody else can either so you’re all in the same boat! However, some landlords know very early if their tenants will be leaving, like if the current tenants are graduating seniors. For this reason, it doesn’t hurt to call! I would suggest walking around and calling every realtor’s number that you see on houses and ask for availabilities. Some places even have waitlists, so you’d want to be put on this asap. Start checking on Craigslist and Zillow for postings and call call call! Set up as many viewings as you can so that you will have the best chance of finding a place that you like!

2. Ask Around 

A lot of landlords have multiple properties that they rent out each year. So, if one of your friend’s are in a house, there is a good chance that their landlord could be trying to rent out another similar property! Have your friend contact their landlord and ask if they have any other properties available. They could then give you their landlord’s number and you can set up viewings. This is how I actually found my current apartment. My friend was renting the apartment above mine, and when I told her I was having trouble finding a place, she gave me her landlord’s number to which she told me she was renting out the apartment below my friend! 

3. Take Over a Friend’s Apartment

If you have older friends, or friend’s who just plan to move out soon, ask them about renting out their apartment. Most landlords prefer not having to advertise/ show their apartments because it takes a lot of time to show multiple groups their properties. If you know a friend that will be leaving their apartment, ask them to get in contact with their landlord about the possibility of you renting the following year. The best part is that you probably have already seen the house, so you don’t even need to go on any viewings! 

4. Follow Housing Pages on Facebook

Here at Pitt, we have a page called “University of Pittsburgh (PITT) Housing, Sublets, and Roommates”. From this page, I have helped friends find roommates, and found someone to sublet from me while I study abroad in the upcoming semester. One problem that people run into is finding a house to rent, but not having enough roommates to fill all of the rooms. Luckily, there are always people trying to find roommates on this page. The best part? You can almost *interview* these people beforehand by checking out their Facebook page! 

5. Don’t Panic!

Some people, like myself, will get lucky and have an apartment set by Halloween, but this doesn’t mean to lose hope! Remember that a lot of people are in the same boat as you, but there are SO MANY houses! Don’t get discouraged if places fall through or other things come up. Also, trust your gut feelings! If you like a place, but the landlord seems a little sketchy, you might save yourself from potential stressful situations if you pass on that house. With that in mind though, don’t be too picky!! If you like a place, it’s in your budget, and you’d be happy living there, don’t hesitate. I know it’s tempting to keep looking just in case you find something better, but it’s much better have peace of mind of knowing you have a place to live than to be scrambling in February and settling for a dump. 

I hope these tips will help you in your apartment hunting! Most importantly, you WILL find somewhere eventually, and you can always try to find your ~dream apartment~ for the following year ;) 

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