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The Ideal Apartment Hunting Timeline
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The Ideal Apartment Hunting Timeline

Mar 6th, 2015

“How long should I give myself to search for a new apartment?”

A lot of people ask this question, and not just the first time they’re looking for an apartment. Since apartment rental markets vary from season to season and region to region, there are no hard-and-fast answers. There are, however, some general rules for putting together an apartment hunting timeline that can help you find and secure your ideal home without too much stress or investing too much time.

Several Months Before Move-In

Do Your Research

Once you have a pretty good idea you’re moving, research the apartment rental market in that area. Do some legwork on the standard lead time for apartment hunting and lease approval in the area you want to move. And don’t forget to find out how much notice you need to give your current landlord or apartment management company before moving out.

Set Your Budget

Determine how much it will cost to rent an apartment with the amenities you want in a neighborhood you desire, and set a budget. Strive to save more than you’ll need to rent an apartment that meets your criteria. In addition to in-house amenities like laundry and community amenities like a pool and theater room, consider pet-friendliness, availability of parking, storage space, and more.

Once you figure out roughly how much you need to budget for the apartment you want, save accordingly. In addition to rent and your deposit, factor moving costs into the budget too.

45 to 60 Days Before Move-In

Tour Apartments

Now comes the actual apartment search. Again, it’s important to know the rental market in your area. In most markets, apartment hunters want to start touring apartments in earnest a couple of months prior to move-in. Look at the list of apartments you bookmarked when determining your budget, and schedule apartment tours. Focus on apartments you would actually consider living in.

Narrow Down Your Options

As you tour apartments, listen to your intuition. Take mental notes and put your thoughts to paper (or a smartphone note) as soon as the tour is done. What did you like about the apartment and its community? What didn’t you like? Did it feel spacious or cramped? Is there public transportation nearby? Was there a pet park or space to play, or was it pet-friendly only in the sense that pets are permitted to live there?

Remember to ask questions that are important to you while on tours. If you want to have the freedom to color your apartment the way you want, ask if you can paint. If you want to host friends and family in your apartment, be sure to find out details about a guest policy. Other things to ask about include: Parking, quiet hours, plumbing and appliance maintenance, and anything else you can think of.

After touring several apartments, compare your notes. This should help you narrow down your options.

30 to 35 Days Before Move-In

Complete Leasing Approval Process

By now, hopefully you found an apartment that seems like the perfect fit. If you have, fill out and submit a rental application. If you haven’t, dedicate extra time to the apartment hunting process so you find a good fit sooner rather than later. Once you’ve applied and your leasing application has been approved, you’ll have peace of mind and can start focusing on your move.

10 to 20 Days Before Move-In


If you want your move to be as hassle-free as possible, don’t save packing for the last minute. Even if you have relatively few belongings, packing up your current apartment could take a few days. Take time off from work as needed and start collecting boxes, bins, and packing peanuts to transport your belongings.

This is also a perfect time to do some de-cluttering. Sort through your belongings and decide what you really want to make the move with you. Donate or throw out items you neither need nor feel a strong attachment to.

Finalize Moving Details

Do you know how you’re going to get your stuff from your current apartment to  your new one? If not, figure this out now! If you don’t have access to a truck and a few helping hands, consider hiring a mover. Research moving professionals in your area, and book a reputable mover in your price range as soon as possible.

Moving Day (And Beyond)

You did it! You’ve made it to moving day. But you’re not quite done yet. You still have to unpack, get settled in, and take inventory of your new apartment and belongings before you can put the moving process behind you. You probably won’t be able to get everything done on moving day, and that’s perfectly okay. Settling into a new apartment is something that takes time and deserves to be a gradual process.

When it comes to apartment hunting, it’s never too early to start thinking about and preparing for your next move. Your own timeline may be shorter or longer than this one, but you can still use these tips as a guide to determine the steps you should take throughout the apartment hunting process. No matter how your apartment search pans out, we hope you can find an apartment that meets your needs, preferences, and budget.

Do you have any tips for the apartment hunting process? Let us know about them in the comments!

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