When to Start Looking for Apartments

Apr 24th 2024
Looking for an apartment is often a stressful process, but the more you prepare, the easier it will be. Depending on where you are looking to live, you should usually start looking for units about 1 to 2 months before your intended move-in date. Here is a guide to help you determine the best time to begin your apartment search.

hash-markWhen Should You Start Looking For Apartments?

In most cities like New York the best time to look for apartments is 30 to 60 days before you plan to move in. This ensures that you will have time to search for apartments, schedule viewings, and sign a lease. While you can begin apartment hunting earlier, most landlords will not know what apartments will be coming to market more than two months out. They are also unlikely to want to rent you a vacant apartment if you do not move in relatively quickly as holding it for you for 60 days means they won't be collecting rent during that time. 

hash-markApartment Hunting Timeline 

Determine Your Move-in Date

The first step is determining your move-in date. This will likely be when your current lease expires. However, if you have somewhere to stay while you search or have a month-to-month lease, you have more flexibility. But, it’s crucial to pinpoint an ideal move-in date to be able to structure your apartment hunting timeline. You may change it later if you have other housing accommodations and haven’t found the right place yet. But it would be best if you had a general idea of when you’re looking to move.

90 Days Before Move-In

90 days out will likely be a bit soon to sign a lease in most places. Most landlords are looking to fill vacant units as quickly as possible because they are losing money every day they go without a rent payment. So, any apartment currently on the market likely won’t be available when you’re ready to move in. 

It’s also typically too early for landlords to know their upcoming availability as in many large cities like NYC tenants usually have to give notice of non-renewal 30-60 days before their leases expire. 

Nonetheless, 90 days before you plan to move can be an excellent time to start looking at different neighborhoods and buildings to determine the best location. By doing this, you know what you’re looking for when it’s time to begin touring apartments.  

60 Days Before Move-In

The 60-day mark is when you should start seeing what’s available. You can begin by browsing listings online or contacting local real estate brokers to see what kind of inventory they have available. You can start scheduling tours, however, in some markets, it may still be too soon to sign. Some landlords want to fill the unit ASAP, and if it’s empty, they may show preference to tenants who are willing to move right away. But you can still start touring apartments to get a sense of what you can expect for your budget.

30 Days Before Move-In

The 30-day point is when you should start to get more serious about signing. If you haven’t already, you should start scheduling viewings and gathering your financial documents. So, when you see the perfect unit, you are ready to make a move. To help your search, make a list of all the essential features and any others you consider a bonus. For example, you may need at least two bedrooms and easy access to the subway but would also like a washer-dryer in the unit. Identifying these essentials beforehand will make it easier to weigh the pros and cons of each unit you see.

hash-markWhen to Start Looking for Apartments FAQs

1. What Month is Best to Look for Apartments?

The best month to look for an apartment depends on several factors. In New York City you will often find better deals in the winter months, but there is also less inventory. Plus, it can often be more challenging to move in the cold (but landlords will also be more willing to offer incentives to get units filled). 

The summer tends to be the busiest time, and there is often the most inventory available. But you may also have to deal with competition from other renters. Therefore, the best times to look for apartments tend to be the early spring or fall. April and September tend to be the best times because they offer mild weather and good deals.

2. What Time of the Year Are Most Rentals Available?

May through October is generally the time when the most inventory is available. The summer tends to be the busiest time for apartment rentals because all the college students start looking for units before the beginning of the school year and when many professionals choose to relocate for work during the summer months. Most people prefer to move in the warmer weather, so more leases tend to expire in the late spring and summer than in the winter. But this also usually coincides with a rise in prices because of all the competition.

3. Is Four Months Out Too Soon to Look for an Apartment?

Generally, you should start to look for an apartment 1 to 2 months before you plan to move. While not impossible, it will be more difficult to find a unit that will be available four months from when you view it. Unless there are no offers because something is wrong with the unit, the landlord will likely give preference to a tenant who is willing to move sooner. But, if you know the landlord personally or offer them some incentive to keep it off the market, you may be able to reserve a unit until you’re ready to move. Plus, you can always start looking to get a sense of what’s out there.