Whether you've been looking for what feels like forever or you've just begun your search, we all really want to know what the best time of year to start hunting for a new apartment is.
So, what's the answer?
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Well, for starters, it depends on how you would define "best".
When renting an apartment or home, it comes down to what's most important to you: location, price, or amount of options and availabilities. Each of these fit together and play a vital role in what's best for you, depending on what you weigh out as the most important factor. Happy hunting!
When your priority is location
Depending on how big of a city you're living in, the part of town you rent in versus other parts of the city can either be drastically different from one another or not really all that different at all.
Let's say that you're living in a big city (over a million in population) with tons of neighborhoods and areas to live in, like New York, LA, or Chicago. In a city like these three, some neighborhoods are so different from one another that sometimes it doesn't even feel like you're in the same city when you visit different neighborhoods.
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For most highly desirable neighborhoods, there may never be a "best" time to look for a rental. High-demand areas will always be high-demand for whatever reason, be it their proximity to certain points of interest, the demographic of the majority of people that live there or even the overall vibe of the social scene.
The only time location plays a part seasonally, however, might be during the summer months. During peak summer intern season, certain areas become hubs for college kids to live from around May-September. If you're trying to rent in one of those areas, you're better off waiting until school is back in session.
Also, keep in mind the seasonal weather of the city you're moving to. If you're in a city in the Northeast, you know that no one wants to move with ice and snow on the ground. And if you're in a sunnier and warmer region, the summer might be too unbearable and warm for anyone to want to move.
When your priority is availability
The best time to look as far as overall availability is during the summer months, during peak season, from September-May. Hundreds of new tenants are rushing in to apartments; summer interns, recent college grads, people who want to spend the summer months somewhere new and different.
Landlords and real estate agents know this and often rent out tons of units for these months. Most 1 year leases also expire in August or September, freeing up even more residences. If you're looking for options and a guarantee that something will be available, you'll without a doubt have no shortage in the summer.
However, there is one caveat to this. The holiday months (November-December) are also surprisingly good times to look as far as availability goes (though the selection won't be as plentiful as it will be during the summer).
The holiday months are busy times for everyone, and no one is particularly focusing on trying to apartment hunt while simultaneously trying to budget for holiday presents and parties, as well as the overwhelming stress that comes with it.
Whatever units are available at that time will more than likely be available to you. You're not competing with many people, and that makes whatever residences are available virtually all available to you.
For example, there may only be 10 apartments available in December in the area of whatever city you're looking in, but if you're not competing against hundreds of others to sign on those apartments, 10 can seem like a lot.
When your priority is price
For the best deal price wise, like anything, you're better off searching at off peak time (winter months, October-March). Since the demand for an apartment isn't there, nor is the need to jack the price up as high as possible.
Realistically, landlords and owners want to ensure that their units are being rented period, so not only can monthly rent be negotiated, but it's also common for broker fees, deposits and other extraneous fees to be waived or negotiated during these times.
The summer peak months are of course, the opposite of this. Essentially, if you're not willing to pay it, someone else will.
Winter months are also more likely to present you with the option of a lease break—again, landlords and owners never want a vacant unit, and will often present great deals in situations like these.
When all three are your priority
Good luck and let us know when you find something! Kidding.
It's definitely possible to find an apartment that hits all three points to your preference, but it's not very common. So long as you go into your search with an open mind and flexibility, you'll find the perfect place for you.
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