Finding a new apartment isn’t always easy. But before you start pounding the pavement, use the free resources widely available on the web to help get you started. You can do the majority of your research online and then go on-site to check out the apartment. We do recommend touring the apartment in person before you sign a lease. But learning more about the neighborhood and researching price ranges can help you narrow your search even more.
Here are five free tools to make your apartment search a (frugal) breeze.
1. Walk Score
While some people enjoy driving, others prefer to walk to the grocery store, work or the park. It’s greener and less costly than driving or riding the bus. If this is important to you, go to Walk Score, enter in the address of an apartment that you are considering and see how pedestrian-friendly it is. It will give the apartment a score out of 100 and list grocery stores, restaurants, shops, schools, parks and more. It will even show the distance of these businesses from the apartment.
If you’re searching for apartments, this is almost a one-stop shop on the web. Here you can view photos and detailed listings of apartments. You’ll also find information on metro areas, cities and even neighborhoods. And, for information on apartment living, hunting, and moving, the Moving Center on this site offers some excellent articles.
This tool is helpful if you want to find out how reasonable the price of the apartment is for the neighborhood. If you find that the apartment you’re considering is charging more than most apartments in the area, then think about what makes it better than the others. And, if you can’t find the answer, maybe searching other places is a good idea. But, if you think the amenities and the apartment features are worth it, then this isn’t as much of a concern.
This is for the wary customer. You don’t want to rent an apartment in an area where you don’t like the shops or restaurants. Yelp offers maps and reviews to help you decide if you like or frequent the types of businesses near the apartment that you are considering. It will save you time and money in the end when you don’t have to commute farther to shop and dine.
5. Neighborhood Scout
This site is great for research on the neighborhood level. Not only can you get stats on neighborhoods, you can also find the best neighborhoods for college students, families, urban sophisticates, etc. in a specific city. You can also put in a neighborhood that you know you like and find one that is comparable in another city.
All of these resources on the web are free, so try them out before spending the day driving around the city wasting your gas or tiring your feet on the streets. And, it pays to do a little research first before spending a lot of money and time on an apartment that you’ll end up not hating down the road.
What are some of your favorite resources for achieving a frugal move?