The Apartment Hunting Guide for Someone Who Has No Idea What They’re Doing

When the news of my new career opportunity in Dallas came, I had to prepare a plan for how I was going to relocate. Over the years, traveling for school, anything I would accumulate would usually be donated at the end of the school year. So moving meant packing up just a few suitcases of clothes and several wall posters.


The real trouble came in finding a place to put all of these things. I tried asking my older sister and friends on advice on what to do, however my situation was entirely different from theirs. While they were already settled in their jobs and cities when they began apartment hunting, I was going to be completely new to both. Let me tell you a couple roadblocks I hit:

  • Apartment hunting is not as easy as just searching online and finding one that looks nice.
  • Many apartments require at least two – three weeks worth of paystubs to verify your income and employment.
  • Some apartments will not take letters of job offers, even if they’re notarized.
  • Some apartments may also require a previous steady employment history of over six months.
  • If you need to get a cosigner or guarantor, they must make a minimum of (usually) five times the rent.
  • Some apartment complexes will not accept certificates of guarantors from co-signing companies.
  • It’s not as easy as it seems, so just plain don’t expect it to be.
  • Also, don’t feel bad if you have no idea what some of the terms I just used are. I didn’t either.

So let’s get started!


I’m going to break this down the easiest way I used to help me find my current apartment. This is not an expert’s list of how to do this. It’s just how I did it based on what was important to me, and how quickly I wanted to move in.

  • Find a neighborhood you will be comfortable living in. The next step is equally as important but this was a major eye opener for me. When moving to a city you’re not completely comfortable in, you don’t know the area as well, and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself in a dangerous part of town, or in a location that doesn’t suit you. Take your work commute into consideration, road and highways you’ll have to take, the culture of your surrounding area, and so on. I quickly figured out that my biggest priority was feeling safe, as well as limiting the amount of traffic I’d face on the way to work each day. Based off of that, I found an area to begin my search.
  • Figure out how much rent you can pay (and qualify for) on a monthly basis. I placed this second because the area you choose may have a different cost of living. Really, budget and area should go hand in hand. If you have the wiggle room, like I did, you’re budget can change. I originally found some affordable two-bedroom apartments in the $700 range, but once I chose a safer and nicer area, the average cost of rent went up. I used a rent calculator to determine how much rent I could afford, and limited my apartment search in my chosen area to complexes that offered units at that price.smoking-money
  • Visit the complexes and ask as many questions as possible. The Internet won’t tell you everything you need to know about the application process or what the rooms actually look like. Make appointments to visit and have a residential manager walk you through the apartments as well as the application process. This is where you learn about how your credit will factor in, what paperwork you need, how much for application fees, deposits, and when first month’s rent is. You need to ask questions about utilities, deadlines, liabilities, maintenance, and other requirements. At the same time, you get to actually see what an empty unit looks like and you can decide if it’s up to code.wifi
  • Narrow down your search. Maybe your visit to some complexes just completely waived your interests, or you found out there were some complexes that had requirements you couldn’t fill. Maybe there were a few that you just fell in absolute love with. For me, it honestly came down to liking one layout better than the other.
  • Start applying. I’m not sure if other people apply to more than one, like college, but I only applied to the one. The residential managers were a huge help, and within a few days, I was signing a lease.
  • Read your lease! I know it’s like twenty pages long and boring, but it’s important to actually know what you’re signing. There are stipulations and requirements in there that you need to know. This includes things like renter’s insurance, security deposits, pets, parking, and pest management. Be vigilante and know what you’re getting into.
  • Happy move-in! Yes, this was a pretty vanilla list of how to get a new apartment, but hey, this was my first time! If you’re a new adult, moving to a new city, starting a new job, and have absolutely no idea where to start, hopefully this helped! Just enjoy your new space and begin to make it yours.


How was your first experience renting an apartment? Any fun stories, or important steps you’d add to this list? Feel free to share them with me in a comment! Also, stay tuned as I continue to decorate my apartment and share my journey. My balcony is in need of a complete makeover…


Wine on the Balcony ❤


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