Moving this Summer? How to Start Planning Now to Beat the Chicago Renter Rush
As we move achingly slowly towards the summer, Chicagoans have a lot to look forward to: warm days at the beach, weekend after weekend of street festivals, and being able to survive their commute without the El’s heat lamps. But there is one thing about summer that many of the city’s residents are dreading: trying to find a new apartment.
Apartment hunting in Chicago can be difficult in the best of times, but once summer rolls around, it’s like trying to shop on Black Friday. Finding a good apartment in your price range can require a planning process to rival a military operation, and complacency will get you a $1,700 one-bedroom next to a fish-processing facility.
At Alto, we’ve survived more summer moves than we can remember. If you want to come out of your apartment search with a home you love, we have the advice to get you there.
Before you’re ready to choose a unit, you have to do some research: where do you want to live, and why? Consider factors such as:
- Neighborhood attractions – What shops, restaurants, and parks around around the apartment? How far are you from the lake?
- Logistics – How far are you from public transportation, and how will that affect your job and social life? What is the parking availability like? Will a grocery store be a short walk or long bus ride away?
- Peace – Your apartment is your home. Will there be constant noise outside, with people shouting and ambulances wailing down your street? Do you feel safe in and around the apartment?
The apartment listings themselves will be a good source for much of the explicit information such as local transportation. For more personal advice, you can turn to many online discussion boards and forums such as Reddit’s r/Chicago section, where you can discuss your options with commenters and get advice from people actually living in these neighborhoods.
If you wait to start looking for an apartment until the week you want to move in, you may find that the best options are already taken, and that the good options still available are very pricey. The sooner you begin, the sooner you can start zeroing in on your top picks.
According to Domu, the optimal time to start viewing potential apartments is about two months ahead of your move date, which is pretty much as early as landlords can begin to show occupied units. This will give you a great head start over the competition, many of whom wait until the 30-day mark. Even if you don’t find a place right away, you’ll have plenty of time to figure out exactly what you want, and the realtors you’ve worked with will remember you when a unit becomes available.
Consider a Variety of Neighborhoods
It can be easy to become attached to the idea of moving to the perfect neighborhood. But depending on your price range, some areas may have fewer available units than you anticipated. You don’t want to fall into a trap where you end up sacrificing the quality of your apartment for the area, or blowing your budget – it’s not uncommon for people to pay hundreds more than they planned, just because they couldn’t let go.
You may think that you won’t survive without being two blocks from the Chicago Athletic Association, but each of Chicago’s neighborhoods has plenty to offer. And once you’ve lived there for a few weeks, it will feel like home.
Be Prepared to Apply Immediately
Once you find the perfect apartment, you don’t want to lose out while you’re scrambling to get all your documents and references together. Having a folder on your computer with the relevant links and documentation can get you up and running instantly, so that you’re prepared to put down your name the second your dream apartment becomes available. Things to keep handy include:
- Money for applications/processing fees, as well as deposit for first and last months’ rent
- Pay stubs or an offer letter as proof of employment
- Identification – bring 2 forms in case of an issue
- References – have contact information for previous landlords, as well as employers
Keep Your Options Open
As any seasoned Chicago apartment hunter can tell you, nothing is guaranteed. Maybe your application is received five minutes after another applicant, maybe there’s an issue with your credit check, or maybe the realtor’s friend asks for the apartment. On the flip side, you may still be waiting for your application to process when you find THE PERFECT PLACE.
Whatever the case, you should always have backup options on your radar so that you can pounce the second it looks like the place you initially wanted might fall through. Don’t stop looking until the ink has dried on your new lease.
Get Some Help
Aggregation sites are a decent place to start looking, but there’s an inherent problem with the options they show: if you can see a listing, so can everyone else. To make matters even more difficult, half of the listings have no more than dark, shaky photos of what could either be an apartment or a warehouse, leading to wasted time and missed opportunities.
At Alto, we don’t like this process any more than you do. That’s why we cut through all of the uncertainty and frustration to help people find apartments they love within Marina City. Whether you want to check out a listing on our site or rely on our expertise to seek out the perfect unit, we work with you every step of the way so that you can enjoy the summer in a place you’re excited to call home.
If you’re interested in viewing apartments within Marina City, check out our rentals page or contact Alto Realty today.