Apartment hunting is a complicated process with many unknowns — Will I find all the amenities I want in one building? Will I be able to afford rent? Will my application be approved? On top of that, rental vacancy rates have been steadily declining for years, meaning more people agree to stay in their apartments, which increases the competition for what’s available.

So, how long does it take to find an apartment?

If you want to get the right apartment at the right price, then you need to start at the right time. Yes, you can still find an apartment if you start earlier or later than our recommended timeline. But, the ideal amount of time to give yourself is 10 weeks (2.5 months).

Has the 10-week mark arrived for you already? Maybe you need to move in a hurry. Either way, reach out to AptAmigo. We can help!

Related: Ultimate Checklist for Touring Luxury Apartments

What Do I Do Before the 10-Week Mark?

If you’re a planner, then you’ll love the time before the 10-week countdown mark. Why? Because you can still do a lot of pre-planning before you officially start hunting.

First, take stock of your situation and needs. Will you need a two-bedroom apartment to accomodate an office or roommate? Do you need to live close to work with a commute on public transport? What’s your budget for rent and utilities? Make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves so that you can start searching immediately when the time arrives.

If you’re moving to a new city, take time to research each neighborhood. Look for reviews of businesses in that area. Search for city and municipal websites that tell you about the neighborhood’s history or vibe. If you’re moving across town, try visiting a few areas, not to look at apartments, but just to walk around and see for yourself what it might feel like to live there.

Additionally, research the rental market in the area where you plan to move. Do apartments lease within days from when they become available? Do most buildings require weeks of lead time between applying and move-in dates? Get a feel for what to expect ahead of time by gathering information, such as average rent price, approximate cost of utilities, and what buildings might have availability and when.

Start Your Search at 10 Weeks Out (Ideally)

Even if you take advantage of the opportunity for pre-planning, the real work begins around 10 weeks out from your expected move.

With AptAmigo’s Help

When you use AptAmigo, your search will begin with a simple phone call. Our agent will get to know you and your needs, your preferences, your hopes and dreams; basically, everything they need to find you the perfect apartment. Then, we can start the real search for you.

Learn more about what apartment locators do.

Without AptAmigo’s Help

Get ready for stress. Apartment hunters working alone will spend 20 hours or more combing through apartment listings and calling buildings. Many listings will be outdated or even fake. Landlords and leasing companies won’t be good at calling you quickly, if they call back at all. Many of your questions will go unanswered.

To make the most out of this time, especially if you’re going it alone, try these tips:

  • Know Your Needs: Narrow your list to only the most important details; leave your want-to-haves on a second list that you don’t weigh as heavily.
  • Use Trusted Sites: Only use reliable apartment locating sites (like ours, perhaps?) that keep the most updated listings and provide plenty of search criteria.

Schedule Tours at 8 Weeks Out

With AptAmigo’s Help

This step is easy when you have an organized and friendly Apartment Locator to do the hard work for you. At this point, you’ve narrowed down your list of favorite buildings (we recommend around 8 or fewer), and you’re ready to take tours. We can schedule these for you! We recommend in-person tours when possible, but will gladly offer virtual tour options as well.

With AptAmigo’s help, all you need to do is get in the pre-paid Uber we’ll send to chauffeur you from place to place with the assistance of a knowledgeable Touring Agent.

Without AptAmigo’s Help

At this point, you’ll need your calendar, Google Maps, and tons of patience. You’ll email or call dozens of contacts about the listings you’re interested in. They might not all respond, and others might only call back if you follow up multiple times. Stay at it! Keeping track of it can also be a challenge, but eventually, you’ll put together a schedule for your tour day(s).

To make the most out of this time, especially if you’re going it alone, try these tips:

  • Keep a Spreadsheet: Put together a short document or spreadsheet to keep track of what buildings you like, which you called, when you made an appointment for, etc.
  • Use Tech for Ease: Enter all of the appointment information into an electronic calendar and set timers for when you need to leave for tours. This step will help you stay on schedule.
  • Drive Carefully: Map out your route in a circle, not a zigzag; that way, you won’t drive back and forth across the city multiple times.
  • Ask Questions: It isn’t just about looking at the apartment, it’s about asking the right questions and paying attention to the details during tours.

Apply & Sign Your Lease at 4-6 Weeks Out

With AptAmigo’s Help

You probably guessed it. At this point in the process, we’ll stick with you as well. You’ll need to fill out paperwork for each building you apply to, pay some fees, provide reports and pay stubs, and pass background checks. If you have any questions about these steps of the process, our apartment locating team is here to answer them.

Without AptAmigo’s Help

Make a list and start gathering your paperwork. At this point in the process, you’ll fill out rental applications, pass credit and background checks, and eventually sign your lease. You’ll need to communicate with the landlord or building manager to complete these steps. But, once that lease is signed, it’s official—you have an apartment.

To make the most out of this time, especially if you’re going it alone, try these tips:

  • Gather the Correct Paperwork: You’ll need everything from pay stubs or bank statements all the way to vaccination records for your pets, so get ready.
  • Be Rent Savvy: Some landlords offer concessions, like waiving application fees, or giving a month or more of rent off when you sign a lease within a day or two of visiting.

Pack & Schedule Your Move at 4 Weeks Out

Yes— start packing at least a month before you move. You should acquire moving boxes, tape, and bubble wrap to start packing away the items you don’t need regularly. Trust us, do NOT try to pack in one day or even rely on a team of packers to pack for you in a few hours. Doing it yourself ahead of time can save money and headache.

You’ll also need to schedule a moving truck. The farther you’re moving, the further ahead you should book your moving truck or pod. Plan carefully, so your belongings don’t arrive too early or too late. You can use our handy Moving Checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do.

How Can I Find My Dream Apartment Quickly?

We know that reality does not always match the ideal. Some people will end up in situations with far less than 10 weeks to move, and that’s okay. We give the full rundown of When to Start Looking for an Apartment elsewhere, but rest assured that we can still help if you find yourself with less time. We help people through rushed moves all the time and even put together a guide for how to find an apartment fast.

Make Your Life Easier. Connect with a Free Apartment Locator.

Now you know how long it takes to find an apartment, but we think you’ll agree that calling up an Apartment Locator (did we mention it’s free, by the way?) is a much easier path through these 10 weeks than going it alone. So, why not call up AptAmigo? You’ll understand quickly why we receive so many five-star reviews.

Want to get in touch with your own personal, luxury apartment expert? Click below to get started!

About the Author
Jeanette Smith

Jeanette Smith is a writer, editor, and freelancer based in Dallas, Texas. Find out more at JeanettetheWriter.com.