Searching for an apartment is an ungodly amount of stress. Juggling amenities, determining whether or not the neighborhood is safe enough, finding decent schools if you have children, perhaps dealing with aggressive real-estate agents or slumlords all add up to create a firestorm of suffering. That’s why we suggest you use every weapon in your arsenal and every tool at your disposal to make it simpler. That means looking to technology to give you all the aid you can possibly get from the wide web of the world. It will reduce your stress, put fun back in the shopping experience, and narrow the market to a manageable level.
When selecting the ideal apps for apartment hunting, we started by looking for those that were comprehensive, offering up a lot of information. Then we cut out any that weren’t easy to use, because loads of data is great, but not if you have to dig through miles of sub-menus to get it. We sought out those that were friendly and not aggressive, immediately discounting any that were trying to push particular products onto you rather than being fair and balanced. From looking at ads to signing the lease, we’ve got the 7 best apartment finding apps.
Pro: Offers loads of community information
Con: Filter button tends to get buried
Simple and Fun: Use the website or get it as an app, MyNewPlace is an exhaustive listing for every city across the nation with millions of listings that are updated regularly so you’re always informed about what’s available. Sorted specifically by geographic location, you might get overwhelmed at first with the gross tonnage of available apartments, but once you learn to trim it down, you’ll see how useful it is to comb through and how fun it becomes with their 3-D floor and building plans. Oddly, it interfaces with FourSquare (yep, that’s still around) to help you learn about each neighborhood. A nice touch, if a little strange.
Pro: Extremely specific about availability
Con: Ads aren’t removed often enough
Everywhere: It’s no surprise that one of – if not the – most popular apartment hunting websites also has one of the best apps for finding a place to live. They’ve managed to squash down their extensive site into an admirably navigable set of tiny applications that work well on any small screen. You’ll find apartment listings that other apps gloss right over thanks to the deep crawling that Apartments.com does, and the very fact that people tend to list rentals directly on their site, giving them an edge. User friendly and basic, it’s a point and click search that feels quick and intuitive.
Pro: Beautiful interface
Con: Odd navigation
Permanent Address: Built for the serious relocator or mover, you’re not going to be able to find much in the way of sublets or short-term rentals, but for tracking down an apartment or house that can truly become your permanent home, HotPads is excellent. Detailed, interactive maps that change as you use the app help you understand everything about the region to which you are moving. A customizeable search with everything you could want gives you email updates and does the work even when you can’t. The additional details are helpful, but does slow down the quick and dirty searching, making you go through extra data whether you want to or not.
Pro: Even works well with the Apple Watch
Con: Geared more toward real estate buyers
Search Guru: Easily one of the most customizeable search features around, you can set location, date of move, price, and even trim it down so it searches in an area based on the quality of the school system. The cross-compatibility of it lets you save your searches and preferences, then hop back to visit from whatever device you so choose, streamlining your hunt. If you don’t see anything you like, it’s simple to set up alerts the second anything matching your parameters hits the market so that you can be first off the line for the next open house.
Pro: Built-in landlord contact option
Con: Will give you duplicate alerts for single listings
Supreme Simplicity: Probably one of the easiest apps to use, it’s clear that this was developed with mobile devices in mind, since there isn’t quite the same amount of typing that goes into the search criteria of many other apartment-hunting applications. Just click on an area to zoom, pick the distance around a central location in which to search, and it will pop up with loads of choices on your interactive map. Once a search is saved, you’ll get updates with each new property, keeping you free to live your life while it handles the bloodhounding.
Pro: User-generated ranking system for properties
Con: As much for property managers as renters
Complete Connection: This comes at the apartment rental game from an interesting perspective that some will love and others will loathe. The point of RentHop is not just to give you listings, but to offer you a chance to connect with the landlords and property managers so that you can get a better sense of the whole place you will be living, not just where it is and how much it costs. This humanistic angle starts by telling you how complete a listing is and what rating the manager has, then gives you all the details, should you be interested. Since it gravitates toward large population centers, this is good if you find yourself overwhelmed by options, but is practically nonexistent outside of major metropolises.
Pro: Fast snapshot display
Con: Relies on location
Near and Dear: Using either a location search or just putting in a zip code, PadMapper is best for finding things in a particular geographic location, rather than giving you the option of branching out and finding the right home for you, no matter where it is. You’ll need to pick your location before you can do any real filtering, which is great if you’re sure of the neighborhood you need, but if you’re hunting nationwide for the right spot to hang your hat, it feels a little limited. Despite that initial difficulty, once you know where you’re going this makes it easy to find everything in your price and size range, plus put you in touch with landlords rapidly.