I already spilled the beans on twitter and in yesterday's post's comments... but for those who didn't see: Yesterday morning, I got a call from the property management company for our favorite apartment-- WE GOT IT!
It ended up being a pretty quick process (minus the agonizing 2 days until we heard that we got it), mostly because I think we're really good at this whole apartment hunting thing.
How to Snag Your Dream Apartment
1. Where do you want to live?
First, you really need to figure out what your ideal neighborhood(s) is/are. It's overwhelming to search for apartments in an entire city. You've got to narrow down your search to specific neighborhoods/streets. We started our search last Tuesday (2 days after arriving) by driving around Rochester and scoping out the different areas. There were 3 main areas that we originally focused on but we were able to narrow it down to one neighborhood after driving around that night.
2. Walk it out.
Thursday night, we drove to our chosen neighborhood, parked on a side street, and spent probably an hour walking around, getting a feel for the streets and which parts we liked best.
Walking was incredibly helpful and I strongly recommend that you do this! It gave us a totally different view than you would get from checking the place out on google maps or from driving through. We could see which roads were highly traveled and the kind of people who were walking around. It also helped us to learn the street names so that when we saw a Craigslist posting we immediately knew if we liked that street or not.
3. Craigslist is your BFF.
Now that we knew where to focus our energies and had an idea of which streets we liked, we scoured Craigslist. We typed the neighborhood name in the search box and checked out all the current listings. When we found a promising listing, we would type the address into google maps and then do the street view so that we could see the house in it's real habitat, rather than the doctored, perfect-looking pictures that people put up on Craigslist.
After finding a few possibilities online, I called and emailed 6 places on Thursday night asking to set up an appointment to come see the rental.
By Friday morning, I had gotten calls back from 4 of the 6. (The other two probably got rented before we got to them.) But 4 out of 6 ain't bad! So Friday night we went to see the first two.
4. Check 'em out.
The first rental was terrible. We didn't like the layout and we didn't like the property manager- he was kinda snooty and made the tour a bit awkward. Not a fan.
The second place was cool. It was the BIG house (above) that I showed you yesterday! It was basically a mansion. The apartment itself was good, but the house was on a busy main street rather than on a quiet side street. Also it was the most expensive (a whopping $925- which up here is ridiculous).
5. Don't settle.
After our first day of tours, we could have gotten a little depressed. Neither place was right for us! We could have given in and decided to apply for the $925 apartment even though we weren't completely in love. But we kept searching, and the next day we set up two more tours.
Saturday's first viewing went well. The listing agent was nice and outgoing and the apartment was great. The downsides were that it had a tiny kitchen-room (which is exactly how it sounds- a kitchen in a tiny room, so terrible), we'd have to put our dining room table in the living room, and the back door to the house (where all 5 tenants would enter and exit to get to their cars) was right next to the bedroom. We were nervous that we'd be woken up at all hours of the night by people coming and going from the house. But we liked it enough that we got an application and said we'd apply if the second place wasn't good.
6. When you find one you like, act quick.
So we set off for our next appointment. This one was in a great location and was for a great price. $780 a month, including all utilities except electricity (and electric isn't even used for heating up here- it's all oil heat. So basically we'd just be paying for lights)! Amazing. It was a little awkward as we showed up at the appointment. A girl, about our age, and what seemed to be her mom were also standing outside. Double booking a showing? This place immediately lost about 10 points for that.
But we waited around a few minutes until the guy came out and took us all inside and started showing us around.
I. Fell. In. Love.
This place had everything I wanted. Big kitchen (not in it's own room! and it was a walk-through like our last apartment!), bedroom not near other people's doors, separate dining room area, pretty house, big living room, ample off street parking... it was perfect. We ignored the other two people on the tour and started asking questions to the guy showing us around. Luckily the other two ladies left (they probably knew that we were going to win, heh heh) and we took applications. We filled them out in the car on the way home and then scanned and emailed them to the leasing company immediately.
7. Follow Up.
One thing I wish I did was call the leasing company right after we submitted our applications. The guy who would do the application checking was out of town that weekend (I think for a wedding?) so I didn't want to call and bug him, so I didn't. But that meant from Saturday at ~2pm until 11am Monday I was on pins and needles! Did I send the application to the right email? What if they didn't get it? What if the scanned applications were too big and email didn't make it through? It would have made me feel better if I can also left a voicemail telling them that I had sent the applications.
So I called at about 10am on Monday morning and left the guy a voicemail. He called back pretty quickly and told me that he was going to run our applications that day. He said he'd get back to me by the end of the day. Hooray!
Not more than an hour later (wait, just checked my phone, it was exactly 38 minutes later) they called and told me we got it! The guy said we had "great credit*" (I know ;) ) and offered the place if we were still interested. Uh... YES!
This evening we get to go over there to sign the lease and hand over the security deposit. Hooray!
* Seriously, this is just another awesome thing about having a good handle on your finances. When you have a high credit score, landlords are ecstatic to rent to you!