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Finding an apartment in Chicago requires slightly more diligence than it does in many cities. The Windy City is a diverse metropolis that poses unique challenges for would-be tenants. Factors such as the local crime rate, noise and traffic levels, and proximity to art and cultural attractions all play a part in the decision of where to live. Fortunately, there are plenty of steps that can be taken to find the right apartment no matter which part of the city an individual is considering.
Check the Reviews
There are plenty of apartment review sites online. This is good news for renters because it’s possible to easily find out what other renters have to say about certain landlords. By doing a simple Google search, prospective tenants can often find out whether a particular apartment complex is responsible about performing maintenance or if it hassles its tenants unnecessarily.
Neighborhoods also frequently maintain websites, rich with crime data and announcements for community activities. Folks hoping to get involved in a new area should contact the neighborhood leaders to get insights on the best places to live. Often, these leaders will share details on landlords and buildings not available on the review sites.
Go to Court
Another way to find out about different landlords is by visiting the closest courthouse. There, renters can find out about recent evictions and determine whether or not there have been any lawsuits filed against a property management company. While some court involvement is normal for any long-term landlord, an unusually high number of evictions or an excess number of small claims could be indicators of trouble ahead.
Visit Like a Pro
The best time to visit an apartment complex is in the early evening hours. If possible, renters should make an appointment to see an apartment that will permit them to travel straight from work. This serves two purposes. First, it will provide the potential tenant with an idea of what afternoon traffic is like between work and the apartment. Second, it will let him or her hear the noise level when most of the other tenants are home. Apartment buildings that seem calm and quiet during the day may not necessarily be so when the neighbors are home.
Pets living in the apartment above or beside the one being considered may be at daycare during business hours, but may be loud or disruptive in the evening. Nothing is worse than learning about the small herd of barking poodles living above than if they are revealed after one moves in. Hang around the building to get a sense about the neighbors. If they’re polite and seem friendly while you’re touring the space, they’re likely to remain so once you live next door.
If the apartment complex seems reasonably calm during the early evening hours, it can still be a good idea to visit it at other times. Driving through the neighborhood late at night and again on the weekend can give prospective tenants a feel for what the area is like at different times. While checking out the area, it can be helpful to take note of the amount of traffic and whether or not other people seem to be lingering in parking lots for no apparent reason.
Price it Right
Chicago has one of the higher housing costs in the country. Before signing a lease, it is important to know how much the unit will cost not only in rent, but in utilities as well. Most utility companies in the Chicago area will provide annual estimates for electricity and gas upon request. An ideal figure to shoot for is around 1/3 of an individual’s salary in rent followed by an additional 10 to 20 percent for utilities.
While finding a Chicago apartment can be somewhat challenging, the effort can be well worth it in the long run. Those who find the right housing will be free to enjoy all the city has to offer without being concerned about many of the issues that often face Chicago renters.
A Chicago native, Malisa Loberg keeps her finger on the pulse of the city. She is adept at matching clients with neighborhoods and apartments that exceed their expectations. Malisa writes about great Chicago rentals and relocation issues. Her specialty is in luxury Chicago rentals