i hate apartment hunting


I thought I was done with this forever...that once we bought our nice suburban house and I got tenure that we'd never have to do the apartment-hunting thing again. But I didn't factor in sabbaticals.

So I've spent countless hours over the past few days bouncing between rent.com, apartments.com, and apartmentratings.com, trying to figure out where I should spend my time looking during the four days I have free in Seattle between the MSN Search Champs meeting and the MSR Social Computing Symposium this month.

All the pieces we need are out there--prices, floorplans, maps, feature guides, resident ratings. The problem is they're not in one place, they're not easily aggregated, and they're nearly impossible to print in a reasonable way. That means that I had to:

  1. Search in rent.com for places meeting our criteria (Lake Washington or Bellevue school districts, 3 bedrooms, reasonable floor plan, pool and playground for the kids)
  2. Locate the floorplans--some were already in rent.com, others required me to go to apartments.com
  3. Look up the places meeting our criteria on apartmentratings.com, in order to see how many people had taken the time to say "this place is awful"--one or two complaints is no big deal, but a bunch of them saying the same thing is bad news (like, for example, the place where five different comments said that when new management took over their water bills went up by ~$50/month!)
  4. Print out the remaining options
  5. Use scissors and a glue stick to literally cut and paste the floorplan pictures back together since they broke in the middle of the page

There's really got to be a better way.

I realize this is in many ways better than it used to be--to be able to screen locations at all in advance of going out there is a great advantage, and when I get to Seattle I'll have a good sense of what the price ranges and expectations are. But still, it's a lengthy and tedious process, and it makes me glad we'll be coming back home to our own house in a year.


You're not doing this on craigslist? Last fall, when we rented out our own place and found one for ourselves in Palo Alto to live in during Sandy's two-year job, found that the "good" places were all on craigslist. It required a site trip to look at apartments all day, but it was worth it.

Actually, I've also got two Craigslist apartment queries in my RSS reader. :)

Unfortunately, most of the posts on there are for things available *now*, and we don't need something 'til late June. I'd really rather lock something in sooner rather than later, and I doubt I'll be able to make another trip after this month.

Also, most of the postings that match our needs on Craigslist are single-family homes, and Gerald's hoping not to have to deal with things like lawn care during this year. A townhouse would remove the lawncare needs, while also providing the kids with things like a pool and playground.

I would strongly encourage you to talk to the relocation people at Microsoft - they might have better alternatives for finding housing. That said, K.G. is right - most of the good stuff will appear on Craigslist. On the westcoast, i'm often very horrified by what appears on the big rent sites - it's just not part of the market. The stuff that i see in San Francisco is utterly scary and not what you'd want at all. Have you tried putting a housing-wanted ad up on CL? And yes, getting things locked down ahead of time out here is really really hard - it's a very different market.

I'd been hoping for help from the MS relocation people, but when I finally got assigned to someone and asked her, she had nothing to offer other than rent.com. They can put me up in corporate housing for three months, or they can reimburse me for rent up to the amount the housing would cost. Since they pay a lot for corporate housing, it makes a lot more sense for us to find our own place and have them reiumburse us for 4-6 months. :)

If we were planning to live in the city, I think Craigslist would be our best bet. But since we're headed for the eastside, where there are lots and lots of townhouse and apartment communities, I think we may be okay going this route.

Nonetheless, I am watching Craigslist, and will check out any places that might be available during our preferred timeslots while I'm out there...

Well, there is something to the argument that there is no way to make house-hunting palatable. Good luck with however you do it. Corporate housing sounds like a drag--you'd move, and then move again, all the while working on your project.

Are there apartment brokers who can help you decide? You may be knackered from this whole process, but as much as I tell myself "we're only here for two years at most," when the garage band next door cranks up on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, two years seems like an eternity. (Though I do love my office.)

There are few more sites which make apartment hunting easy, i checked do not rent dot com and check apartment reviews dot com. These 2 sites have good amount of reviews on apartments.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on April 6, 2005 9:54 AM.

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