How To: Find a Chicago Apartment

So, you need to find an apartment in Chicago? Whether you’re a college student or a recent grad, (or neither!) it can be quite the feat. The market is incredibly fast-paced and sometimes over-priced but there are many hidden gems and strategies to help find them.

After experiencing this for the first time this past spring, I decided I wanted to share some tips since I went in blind. Even if you don’t live in the area, these can still prove helpful. Click read more below to learn how to hunt down your own apartment in Chicago!

1. Take advantage of the professionals.
 
Most college students in particular don’t realize that real estate agents like brokers and realtors are there to help you. It’s literally their job to guide you throughout the process. Typically, the agent is paid for by whomever is selling the property so in most circumstances, that’s not a worry.I also didn’t know this and happened to stumble upon our real estate broker, Bobby, at the Homestead Group only when we were setting up a showing for our current place. He was patient, understanding, and answered any and every question I had about going through the process for the first time.

2. Start watching the market early. 
Understand the market before you need to start looking. The sooner you know how to apartment search, the easier the process will be when you truly have to do it. This is definitely something I’m happy I did.
I highly recommend websites like Domu, Trulia, HotPads, and Craigslist. Reach out heavily to the contact of the apartments you’re interested in. Go to showings at places you’re skeptical about and those that you love. You never know what you may end up liking.
3. Make a list of what you want and don’t want.
Write your list and be sure to prioritize it. You’re not likely to get absolutely everything you want in your apartment but some things are easier to give up on. I really wanted an exposed brick wall but it would’ve been silly for me to not consider apartments that didn’t have one. It is just a wall!However, my apartment is an ideal location and price for me. Those things I wanted to stick to. If you’re moving in with someone else, make sure to write your lists together. You’ll want to be on the same page from the get go.

 

4. Begin your search in a timely matter. 
There’s no general rule of thumb when it comes to this but I do suggest looking no sooner than two months prior and no later than a month prior to your desired move-in date. I wanted a June 1st move-in and starting watching the market as early as March but I didn’t start booking showings until late April, early May.
Thankfully, because I got started early, I knew where I’d be living and had my lease signed the second week of May. There is often a lot of paperwork involved so you have to allocate time for that too.
What are your thoughts? How did you find an apartment in the city that you live in? Let me know I’m the comments below!

 

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2 thoughts on “How To: Find a Chicago Apartment

  1. Sarah Leas

    I just want to say thank you for finally writing a decent piece on how to find a Chicago apartment. If someone is new to Chicago (like myself around this time last year) it can be very frustrating and difficult. The only thing I would add to this article is do your research. Drive through the different neighborhoods, not only during the day, but at night too. This will give you a better sense of what location you'd like to live in. Every neighborhood is different and can vary from the lifestyle during the day to at night.

    Reply
    1. Meghan | Lincoln Park Minute Post author

      Sarah, I'm so glad you could find this helpful! And I completely agree. Since I don't have a car in the city, I never thought to include that but it's an excellent idea to spend the day and some time at night in the neighborhood you're thinking about living in.

      Reply

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