How to Find an Apartment in Chicago

My stress level right now is pretty high. Not as high as it was 10 days ago when we didn’t have an apartment and needed one by August 1st, but still pretty high.

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Let me backtrack. We’ll treat this as a mini life update and I’ll give you my tips along the way. Mainly I’ll tell you what NOT to do when looking for an apartment in Chicago.

A month ago, my boyfriend got a job in Chicago, so we knew we had one month to find a place before he started his job. It was all very exciting since we’ve talked about moving in together for awhile now, I just didn’t think it’d happen so quickly. At the beginning of the month, neither of us did a lot of active searching, other than figuring out what we could not afford. There was a lot of dreaming about winning the lottery.

Tip #1: Eliminating the bad is just as helpful as finding the good. Identifying what you don’t want/need/can’t afford is just as helpful as finding places that are a good fit. You’re still narrowing down your search in the right direction.

Early July, a friend recommended a real estate agent and I felt a huge sense of relief. Chicago’s a big city and even pinpointing the neighborhood you want can be a battle. The real estate agent failed to reply after my second email and at this point, another week had gone by. Feeling a little defeated, I went to my brother who’s lived in the city for a long time now. He helped me go through a few places, which gave me a little hope for what was out there. I had the most luck on Domu, Apartments.com and Zillow. Zillow is super user friendly. Say you message five places in a night, the next morning you’ll wake up with an email of the five places you contacted, their information and recommendations for similar apartments. Here’s a link to Chicago apartments.

Tip #2: You’re the only one that cares about you. This goes for finding your apartment, working with a real estate agent, leasing agent (is there a difference? I don’t know…I’m not adult enough) or a landlord. Look out for yourself because everyone else always has an agenda.

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On the second week in, I went to see three places in two days and liked one a lot. The day after viewing it, I went to turn in our application and deposit only to find that someone else had put in an application just that morning. I was crushed.

Tip #3: Be Prepared. If you’re going to view a place…1. Ask if there are any apps in yet so you’re aware. 2. Come with your application and deposit so if you want to, you can jump on the place as you’re viewing it.

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It was now he third week of July and we were back to square one. My boyfriend was searching during the day and I was looking in the evening after work. I was on Zillow one night and messaged over 10 places. The next day, I got an email back on one and went to see the place after work. I fell in love. It had everything we needed and more. It was slightly over our original budget, but we were able to eliminate commuting costs, which can be another $100+/month and is something to consider with your budget.

Tip #4: Dolla bills. Added costs you don’t always consider: Commuting costs, application fees for the apartment, security deposit for utilities, Chicago parking sticker…I’ll tell ya more when they come up. Make sure you have a little cushion for those “Oh crap” costs.

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In the end, we got the apartment and signed just 10 days before move-in. We are so excited and cannot wait to get settled in. Check Instagram to see if I have any new pics of the place up next week!

Tip #5: Change your address. This might be a “duh,” but change your address before you go shopping! Just click here to change your address. You get coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond, Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Crate & Barrel and more.

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Thanks for listening to my #ThursdayThoughts. You can read my last one in this new series here. Time to blog in Chicago! xoxo

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