When you are moving to a new city, your Long Distance apartment search does not have to be stressful. Of course you want to find the perfect place but there is nothing wrong with an apartment being perfect for NOW. Look at this long distance apartment search as a way to choose your landing place. The most important thing about finding a place to land is to be sure that it is safe.
After navigating a long distance apartment search from Los Angeles moving to Fort Lauderdale, these are my best tips.
1. Have all your important documents already scanned in separate pdf files a)License b)Social Security Card c)Proof of Income d)Letter from current landlord
2. Know your credit score – If your score is not above 650, you will likely have to pay Security, first and last month’s rent to move in. Smaller complexes do not have these strict requirements.
3. Search Facebook Marketplace or other rental resources listed above, find the address and GOOGLE it to see the actual apartment and neighborhood on Google Street View. I was all set to pay my deposit for an apartment and when I looked at it on Google Street view I noticed that the front door was facing the elevator which I would never choose to have so much traffic on my front door. Pay attention to details. Do you want to live next door to a bar? Look around the neighborhood.
4. Identify scammers. Scammers use these tactics a) Tell you a sob story about their sickness or a family member’s sickness b)Tell you that you cannot see the inside of the home but you are free to drive by and see the outside of the home. c)Tell you that lots of people are interested in the apartment and you should give them a deposit BEFORE viewing the apartment. d) Charge a low amount for rent and a high amount for the deposit.
5. Work with an apartment realtor. I did a google search to find one. They are PAID for each unit they can refer that gets a lease signed. They typically earn 50-75% of your first month’s rent. The CATCH is they usually won’t show you apartments from private owners because they won’t be paid by them so you miss out on small complexes and move-in deals.
6. Ask for walk through videos to be sent to you. CATCH*** Realtors only did walk through videos for me AFTER I paid the application fee. Paying the application fee indicated that I was serious.
7. When renting from a private person, pay the deposit through paypal and indicate what the money is for. If it ends up being a scam, paypal will protect your money.
8. Don’t stress so much. If it is affordable, rent it. You will then have 6 to 12 months to decide if you want to stay. Where you start is never the same place you finish.
For more information about Moving to Los Angeles, join the MTLA-Facebook Group