How to Find Move-In Ready Apartments

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and you find yourself in need of an apartment, right now. Within the U.S. alone, almost 7.3 million people were displaced by natural disasters alone over the last 10 years.

When events happen that are out of your control, the ability to search quickly and easily for available places to live in your area is essential.

How we’re helping renters find an apartment fast

Apartment Guide, and our sister brand, understand the struggle that people who have been displaced are facing in these circumstances. There’s nothing more important than finding a safe place to live for you and your family. So we’re making it easier for renters to identify apartment communities with immediate move-in ready housing.

If a natural disaster (hurricane, flood, tornado, winter weather, etc.) displaces residents, we’ll put messaging on the property pages of our websites to let renters know that these communities have available units right now.

Messages will look like this example after the Texas ice storm in February 2021:

apartment guide screen shot to find move in ready apartmentsapartment guide screen shot to find move in ready apartments

The messaging will vary depending on the situation, but you’ll be able to easily see if your desired property has any availability. You might even be able to take advantage of move-in specials, depending on the length of the lease you want.

What this means for renters

Apartment availability will always vary from property to property.

In your search, you might find a community in which you’d love to live, but then discover all of the units are currently full or uninhabitable because of the storm. In this case, the earliest availability might not be until the beginning of the new month after another tenant’s lease has expired. Depending on when you are searching, that could be only a few days or a few weeks, but neither options are favorable when you need something right now.

This new messaging helps you save time in your apartment search by showing you right at the top of the property’s page on Apartment Guide or if there are immediate openings.

Then you can take the necessary steps to contact that property to discuss your options.

Other tips for finding an apartment fast

While the move-in-ready housing messages will help renters locate properties with availability, it’s not the only way to find apartments quickly.

Here are a few other things that renters can do to find an apartment fast.

1. Be prepared

Although you may not have all your essentials within reach during this time, there are a few important documents you should have ready to ensure a faster process if you find the perfect place. Especially if you end up in a market that’s saturated with other renters undergoing your same experience, speeding up your rental application review is a definite plus.

Make sure you bring the same set of documents to each apartment viewing or have them ready to email to a property manager at a moment’s notice. You’ll want to have:

  • Proof of employment: This is either the last few months of pay stubs, a letter from your employer or your most recent tax return.
  • Proof of finances: Pay stubs and a recent bank statement can work together here.
  • Veterinary records (if you have a pet): Your future property manager will need proof of vaccinations before you’re allowed to have a pet.
  • Proof you’re ready to rent (if applicable): Share documentation from your previous property manager that explains why you can no longer live there and confirms you’ve been let out of your previous lease.
  • Proof of your situation: It never hurts to provide a letter documenting your situation so that a property manager gets a complete picture of you as a renter and your circumstances.

One other document you can bring with you to really speed up the review of your rental application is a credit report. Although this is something a property manager can access themselves, handing it over at the moment saves a lot of time.

2. Know what you’re looking for

The ideal way to search for apartments is online. At Apartment Guide, we allow you to narrow down your search criteria to improve the results. We’ll help you get into the neighborhoods you want, and only show the listings that align with your wish list of amenities.

Find exactly what you want with True Search

The easiest way to get started is simply using the True Search functionality on our website.

Looking for a one-bedroom apartment in Atlanta that allows dogs and is near public transportation? Simply type that in the search bar and boom, you’ll see all one-bedroom apartments in Atlanta that allow dogs and are near public transportation.

How about a studio apartment in Houston for under $1,000 that has stainless steel appliances? Same thing.

True Search can help you save time so you can find your move-in ready apartment even faster.

Use filters to your advantage

If you’d rather do it the old-fashioned way, you can still use manual filters to help in your search. To find the filters on your mobile device, click on the Filters button in the upper right of your screen. You’ll then be able to select your custom search filters.

apartment guide screenshot to filter to find an apartment fastapartment guide screenshot to filter to find an apartment fast

To best narrow down your results, it’s important to filter your search in as many areas as possible.

  • Set your price range first and be realistic.
  • Pick your preferred bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Click on the pet-friendly filter if you’re bringing an animal with you.
  • If in-unit laundry is a die-hard amenity for you, make that selection. Skip this option if not, and you’ll get more results.
  • Click on your ideal list of extra amenities, but be selective and pick only the top choices. You’re in a hurry after all, and it helps to find areas where you could compromise.
  • Make sure results are set to sort by best match.

From there, you can click on the heart icon (if you’re signed in) to save searches you like and keep a comprehensive list.

At the same time you’re clicking on the hearts though, give the listings a call to inquire about availability. Don’t fill out the form online if you’re looking for immediate results.

3. Go on virtual tours

When you can, tour an apartment community in person. But, if you want to find an apartment fast, virtual tours will be a quicker option.

Most communities on our website give you the following virtual tour options:

  • 3D tours and videos: Use interactive 3D features to virtually explore a unit at your own pace.
  • Recorded video tours: Watch a prerecorded video tour of a leasing agent walking through the unit.
  • Live video tours: FaceTime or Zoom with a leasing agent who will walk you through the unit and grounds. This option gives you the ability to ask questions in real-time.

You’ll be able to find the virtual tour options under the Tour From Home section of the property page on our website.

4. Shop the specials

It’s also beneficial to look for specials when you’re trying to find an apartment fast. From free rent to heavy discounts, each dollar you can keep will help with the additional expenses of relocating and replacing your possessions.

This is easy to do when you search with Apartment Guide. Look for the filter called Hot Deals. Adding this to your search criteria prioritizes rentals with special offers. When clicking on a listing with a Hot Deals tag, you’ll see the specifics of the special right at the top.

apartment guide screenshot to find hot deals on a move in ready apartmentapartment guide screenshot to find hot deals on a move in ready apartment

Make sure to mention the deal when you call the property manager. Let them know where you saw it, and ensure that it’s still available should you come in to sign a lease.

Find your move-in ready apartment today

Helping renters find their move-in-ready apartment is what Apartment Guide is all about. We’re here for you, with a comprehensive search, whether you’re in a rush to find an apartment fast or can take your time. Either way, we understand the importance of having a home that works for you on all levels.




6 Clever Hacks for Landing Your Dream Apartment

Outsmart the rental-search woes with these techy tips and tricks.

Finding a new apartment is a time-consuming process. It takes an average of 2 ½ months and includes plenty of paperwork, research and calls. In fact, according to a 2016 study, 82 percent of adults say moving is somewhat stressful or very stressful — more stressful than getting a root canal, being trapped in an elevator or doing taxes.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Savvy renters are finding inventive ways to automate the most onerous parts of their apartment search — from outsourcing listing research to setting up automatic new-listing notifications.

Here are six easy ways to streamline your next apartment search.

1. Create notifications

Timing is everything — especially when it comes to landing your dream apartment. Zillow’s listing database is updated daily, so save your search, and sign up for real-time notifications or daily emails whenever new listings match your criteria.

In addition to timely Zillow notifications, this IFTTT recipe will text you whenever a new Craigslist post matches your search.

2. Organize your search with Trello

Apartment hunting involves many moving parts, and Trello is an easy-to-use tool that will help streamline your search and track your progress.

You add information to “cards,” which you can move to different columns, share with family or friends, and even automate. Here’s a house-hunting Trello board, and this one helps you organize moving tasks after you sign your lease.

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, this IFTTT recipe automatically adds relevant Craigslist listings to your Trello board.

3. Delegate to a virtual assistant

Every apartment search requires hours of researching, scheduling and calling. But many hands make light work, and Fancy Hands can help you do the heavy lifting. This affordable virtual assistant service works by “request” — essentially, tasks that take up to 20 minutes to complete.

Here are three tasks you can outsource immediately to your new assistant: Find listings that match your criteria, research potential neighborhoods and schedule apartment tours.

Plus, Fancy Hands integrates with Trello, so you can delegate new tasks and share information right from your board.

4. Hire out on-the-ground research

While Fancy Hands has the Googling, typing, calling and emailing handled, don’t underestimate the value of analog research.

If you’ve got your heart set on a particular neighborhood (or a handful of them), it’s worth hitting the pavement to spot the for-rent signs that aren’t online yet. Thanks to TaskRabbit, you can hire someone do this research for you.

5. Draft an email template

Mixmax is a Gmail add-on that allows you to create email templates for communicating with landlords and property managers. It also lets you track who opens your emails and when so you know when to follow up.

And don’t worry — Mixmax will do the follow-up outreach for you too. You can create sequences of emails that trigger follow-up emails after a set number of days.

Bonus: Mixmax integrates with Dropbox, so you can share your application materials right there in the body of your email.

6. Store application materials in Dropbox

In addition to creating your Zillow renter profile, which helps you share your qualifications with potential landlords with just one click, try storing your application materials in Dropbox.

With all your application materials in one place, you can quickly and easily share your qualifications with a Dropbox link. Include copies of credit reports, pay stubs, your driver’s license and at least one reference letter.

Top featured image from Offset.



Rent Budget Calculator: How Much Rent Can I Afford?

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Want to know how much rent you can actually afford? Here’s how the rent budget calculator works: Enter your monthly after-tax income and our calculator will tell you how much you can afford to spend on rent. Adjust the slider to see how spending more or less leaves room in your budget for savings and discretionary spending.

Rent Budget Calculator

You can afford to spend up to


on rent

As a general rule, you should spend no more than 30% of your monthly income on rent. This may be higher or lower, depending on the other expenses you have, such as any debt payments you need to make.

Use this slider to see how spending more or less on rent affects your budget:

Rent This should include all housing expenses like your utilities.


Other Expenses This includes other essentials like insurance, groceries, or minimum debt payments you’re required to make.


Discretionary This includes non-essential spending like gym memberships or dining out.


Savings/Extra Debt This includes savings for things like a rainy day fund and any extra debt payments.


According to the 50/30/20 budget rule, necessities like rent, utilities, insurance, and minimum debt payments should take up 50% of your after-tax income, any wants should take up 30%, and savings or paying off any extra debt payments should take up 20%.

How to Determine How Much Rent You Can Truly Afford

Apartment hunting is difficult enough as it is, but our rent budget calculator can help simplify the equation. Whether you’re moving out for the first time or you’re a seasoned pro, knowing how much rent you can afford can make the apartment search a lot easier. 

In general, experts find the average spending on rent and utilities to be around 30 percent of your monthly income. Even though this percentage can vary widely based on income, this rule of thumb was set to ensure most people will not be cost-burdened by their living expenses. If you’re paying down significant debts or are saving for a big purchase, a thrifty budget might put your rent at 20 percent of your total monthly income. On the other hand, if your living space is a huge priority, you might choose to splurge by spending 40 percent of your income on rent. 

There’s ultimately a huge number of factors that go into determining how much you spend on rent. Things like the location, size, and amenities can make all the difference. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much you’re willing to spend and forego in other areas. 

To help you find your dream apartment, we created these helpful printables. There’s an apartment comparison checklist if you’re looking at different options and questions to ask your realtor to make the search easier. To spruce your space up on the cheap, there’s also a printable decor sign. Check them all out below:

Download Apartment Printables

Next Step: Set Up Your Budget

Once you understand how much of your income will go towards your rent, it’s the perfect time to take another look at your budget. An easy place to start is with a 50/30/20 budget, which means you spend 50 percent of your income on necessities, 30 percent on your wants, and 20 percent on your savings or debts. 

After you move to your new apartment, your finances may change. If you find you have a bit more (or less) wiggle room, Mint can help you stay on top of your budget:

Sign up for Mint

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