Finding an apartment in Chicago used to be a snap. There were affordable, gorgeous apartments practically falling from the sky. But after the recession, Chicagoans moved out of their houses and into rentals, making for stiff competition. So how do you get a leg up in Chicago’s saturated rental market? Here we bring you Chicago apartment hunting tips to take with you during your apartment search.

1. Consider all your options.

In what neighborhood do you want to live? What size apartment do you need? How much can you afford to spend? What amenities do you want? Decide all these things before you start searching. This will help save you time, and help you make a decision quickly.

2. Start looking early.

60 days is the recommended start time based off of Chicago’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, and it never hurts to do your research before you start the actual hunt.  It may be tempting to hold off until 30 days before your move (many apartments will not list until 30 days out as well) but being prepared will save you the stress of having to make a last minute decision.

3. Timing is everything.

Summer is the busiest moving time of the year in Chicago. There will be more apartments available, but also a lot more competition. If you can hold off until the fall or winter you will have less competition, allowing you more time to look and compare. Read more about other benefits of moving in the off-season.

4. Hit the pavement.

Nothing beats pounding the pavement to look for an apartment. You might find an apartment before it’s listed, or even find a local gem with only a sign for advertising. And there is no danger of being fooled by a glamorous online picture that looks nothing like the actual apartment.

5. Hit the internet.

Well, not literally. Domu, Padmapper, Craigslist,, Check out these or your other favorite apartment hunting sites. And be sure to check often as ads are updated daily or even hourly.

6. Use an agency.

Not having luck with any of the methods above or don’t have time to do an extensive search? Use a real estate or rental agency. There are plenty in Chicago that will find you a place for free (their fee comes from the landlord, not you!). Be sure to be honest with your agent for a quick and pain free experience. Be clear about what you want and don’t waste your time or theirs looking at apartments that aren’t a fit.

7. Keep the details in mind.

You have found the perfect apartment… except it is right across from the freeway. Are you really willing to live with all the noise? You don’t really need air conditioning in your apartment, right? It’s easy to say that in mid-October, but how will you feel next August?

It’s ok to make concessions when choosing an apartment, but make sure they aren’t going to come back and bite you later on.

8. Dοn’t wait!

If you find a place you like, apply for it on the spot. It might be tempting to look around to compare, but if you like it, someone else will too. Jump on the place while you can!

9. When in doubt, ask the neighbors.

If you are still on the fence about an apartment, ask the current tenants or the neighbors. Do they like living there? Is the landlord available when needed? Is the neighborhood safe? Remember that real estate agents are legally not allowed to talk about crime rates/safety, so asking neighbors or doing online research will get you the most authentic answers. A first-hand account can give you a clear picture of what it would be like to live there and can help you make your final decision.

10. Tenacity works wonders.

It is easy to get frustrated during an apartment search. But remember: don’t give up! The perfect apartment is out there, so don’t get discouraged; keep your chin up and your eye on the prize.

When it comes to moving in Chicago, it truly is a jungle out there. But if you follow the steps above, you are sure to find the perfect place to call “Home Sweet Home”.

Do you have any tips on apartment hunting in Chicago? Please share them with us!