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By Andrew Biro
Updated on Aug 12, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
Generally speaking, you should start looking for apartments 1 to 2 months before your lease ends or your current living situation is set to expire. This will allow you plenty of time to research, budget for, and tour potential rental units.
As a renter, you enjoy the freedom of being able to move on to other options if your current apartment isn’t cutting it. Looking for housing well before you need it can give you a leg-up in the application process—but if you start looking too early, a unit may not be available when you actually need it.
That's why licensed home, auto, and renters insurance comparison app and broker Jerry has put together the following article detailing everything you need to know about when to start looking for apartments—and what to know before you start looking.
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When to start looking for apartments
You typically should start looking for apartments 1 to 2 months, or 30 to 60 days, before your current lease ends. This will ensure that you have plenty of time to create a budget, do your research on available rental units, and tour units that fit your requirements.
If you start looking for apartments too far in advance, you run the risk of someone else snatching up the unit you have your sights set on. This could mean you have to settle for less-than-ideal accommodations somewhere else.
Similarly, searching for an apartment a week before your current lease expires can seriously complicate the process and make it much more stressful than it needs to be. If you can’t find anything, you might be stuck couch surfing until the right place comes up.
When is the best time of year to look for apartments?
Just like any other commodity, certain times of year are better than others to start searching for apartments and the cost of rent fluctuates with the demand for rental housing.
In most cases, rent is at its lowest during the winter months, particularly December through February. Typically, fewer people are looking for housing in these months, in part due to the weather and the rest due to the holidays, so this is the prime time to start searching for a new apartment.
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On the flip side, summer is generally considered the worst time to start looking for housing—rent prices peak from July through September. The demand for apartments is at its highest as recent graduates and families with children attempt to find a place to rent. Summer weather is also much more conducive to moving.
Of course, depending on when your current lease is set to end, you may not have much choice of when you look—but it doesn’t hurt to keep this in mind.
Key Takeaway You should begin your apartment search 1 to 2 months before your projected move-in date—if possible, utilize the winter months to your advantage and search while rent prices and the demand for apartments are at their lowest.
What to do before you start looking for an apartment
Before you start looking for apartments, however, there are a few things you should figure out to better your chances of finding an apartment that meets your needs and reduce the stress of the entire process.
Make a budget
The first thing you should do is make a budget. You may not be able to find a rental unit with the exact same rent that you’re currently paying, and you’ll need extra money to pay for the security deposit as well.
As a general rule, only 50% of your income (after taxes) should go towards paying for the necessities, which would include such things as your rent, groceries, utilities, car insurance, etc. Because your move-in month will see additional expenses, make sure you set enough aside ahead of time.
Decide on a move-in date
You’ll also need to decide on a move-in date—or at the very least a move-in week—as this will provide a hard deadline for when everything else needs to be accomplished. Once you have a move-in date figured out, you can work on getting your address changed, updating your insurance policies, and scheduling time off from work.
Learn the application process
Once you have a budget and a move-in date planned, take steps to familiarize yourself with the apartment application process and collect the necessary documents. Most rental applications require:
- Proof of income
- Employment information
- Your previous address and rental information
- Valid identification, such as a state ID or driver’s license
Knowing how to navigate the application and having everything prepared ahead of time will give you a leg up when it comes time to apply.
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Do your research
Before you start looking for apartments, it’s a good idea to compile a list of amenities you want in your new place. Possible things to consider are:
- In-unit washing machine
- An elevator
- Fitness or recreational area
- A dishwasher
- Parking spaces
Once you have a checklist in mind, locate a few units that meet your requirements and do some research about the area. Is there a grocery store nearby? Do you have access to public transit? Will moving there extend your commute? These are all questions you should seek to answer for any unit you consider.
Further research may include visiting those neighborhoods or areas to get a better feel for the local culture, nightlife, and everything else the area has to offer.
Finally, tour the rental units you have in mind to verify whether or not they are a good fit for you.
Key Takeaway Before you start looking for apartments, you should decide on a definitive move-in date, plan out a detailed budget, familiarize yourself with the application process and gather any necessary documents, and then start your research.
Renters insurance—what you need to know
Unlike car or homeowners insurance, renters insurance is very rarely required—but it is recommended. At a base level, renters insurance is a type of property insurance that protects against the loss of personal property, safeguards against liability claims, and pays for any living expenses incurred should you temporarily lose access to the rental unit as the result of a claim.
Renters insurance protects against much of the same named perils that your standard homeowners policy would protect against, such as fire and smoke damage, theft, a burst pipe, etc.
Your typical renters insurance policy usually only costs between $150 and $300 a year, or roughly $13 to $25 a month, making it one of the cheapest forms of insurance out there.
How to find affordable auto and renters insurance
With both rent and gas prices rising across the country, it’s important to save money wherever possible, especially when it comes to your monthly expenses—fortunately, licensed insurance super app Jerry can help with that.
As the nation’s #1 rated renters, home, and car insurance comparison app and broker Jerry makes shopping for affordable rates easier than ever, saving the average user $800+ a year on their car insurance alone!
All you have to do is download the app, fill out a short questionnaire, and Jerry will start comparing dozens of competitive quotes from 50+ trusted insurance companies to find you the best deals possible—no hassle necessary!
“Jerry was wonderful! I used it for my auto and renters policies. I trusted it so much that I signed up my homeowners insurance under Jerry as well. All of the agents are amazingly nice and knowledgeable.” —Mary Y.
Thousands of customers saved on average $887/year on their car insurance with Jerry
This app is great, but the customer service is even better! Not to mention convenient! My husband and I got the lowest rate (much lower than the rates I was finding online through my own searches), quickly, and pretty much all through text message! Thank you so much for a hassle free experience👍
When should I start looking for apartments?
It is generally recommended that you start looking for apartments 1 - 2 months before your lease ends or your current living situation expires—this will give you plenty of time to budget, research, and tour apartments without being too far out from your projected move-in date.
What month is the best time to look for an apartment?
If you have a bit more flexibility with your projected move-in date, you would do well to move during the winter months—specificallyDecember through January—when rent prices are at their lowest and the demand for apartments has decreased.