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Moving to a new and unfamiliar city can be incredibly stressful, and even more so when that city is incredibly urban and densely populated. Finding a new home can be a pain, and without the right guidance, someone who’s planning to move may find themselves having a hard time finding a space, or worse, falling into rental scams and other things that can go sideways.

If you are moving to a big city that you’re not familiar with, here are some essential tips to help you find the best possible apartment for your needs and budget.

Do your homework

Thankfully, there are plenty of online tools, apps, and other platforms that can help people find rental spaces that are livable and within budget. Apartment-hunting websites like Zillow and Trulia are incredibly helpful for finding rental spaces that people can feel comfortable living in. These websites often have filters that allow users to check places based on amenities, location, price, and other factors when considering a rental space.

There are a few cautions to checking online listings, though. It’s more advantageous for users to check local apartment listing sites since bigger platforms like Zillow and Trulia are known for catering specifically to bigger property management companies, whereas smaller platforms are better at meeting the needs of individuals.

Consult with a legal professional

If you’re moving to a new city that you don’t know much about, then consulting with a real estate lawyer will help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the state’s laws and regulations. This is especially helpful if you have plenty of assets you want to protect, and if you’re not entirely sure about how the law can protect you as a tenant. If you’re also considering the rent-to-own option, a legal professional can help pave the way for you as a future homeowner, especially if you need help in figuring out how mortgages and leasing work in the city you’re moving into.

Converse with locals

Another way you can get to know more about the neighborhood, town, or city you want to move into is to talk to locals. This includes cab and Uber drivers, small grocery store owners, and other locals you might run into during your tour. They are the best people for gaining information on the following:Young couple lying on the floor in an empty room

  • The best areas to live in based on your lifestyle, whether you’re single or have a family
  • Which distinct neighborhood or area fit best with your own vibe and culture—especially if it’s important to you that the area is quiet, or have plenty of places where you can have fun on the weekends, and other lifestyle considerations
  • A feel for how expensive certain neighborhoods are, especially since it’s a bit awkward to ask people directly how much their monthly rental fees are

Accept that you’ll have to compromise

When it comes to looking for an apartment in a big city, one of the things tenants will have to accept is that they might have to make some compromises. This doesn’t mean completely going over budget but accepting that you will have to make certain concessions if you want to find a space to live in. It all boils down to categorizing your priorities according to tiers and compromising on the items that are lower on the priority list.

For example, an in-unit washer and dryer can be high on the priority list, but your own porch might be something you can live without for now. Knowing what you can and cannot compromise on will help you narrow down your choices and not settle for a space you’re not one hundred percent sold on.

Don’t make living in the central business district a priority

While it will certainly be convenient to live in the central area or the main business district of the city, especially if it’s near your place of work, it’s also the easiest way for you to spend so much money on monthly rental fees. The cost of living in central business districts is much higher and you will more likely have a harder time looking for available space. If it’s worth spending an extra ten to twenty minutes on the train to help you cut back on hundreds of dollars on monthly rent, then it might be worth it.

Moving to a new city is already hard enough, but having to think about which apartment to live in can add so much toll on our mental and emotional health as well. Practice these tips to prepare yourself well for this new chapter of your life. Good luck!

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