This post might fit better elsewhere but it’s about apartment hunting in Tucson, so I thought I'd give it a go.
So last December I was changing my living arrangements and was looking for an apartment. This is about my process from then.
My requirements were:
- Under $480 a month
- Air conditioning (as I’d lived in an apartment with evaporative “swamp” cooling before and been completely miserable)
My preferences were:
- No roommates
- Close to work
As it'd been awhile since I'd been in an apartment (and I hadn't been too happy with the one I had been in last time), I thought I'd approach it more thoroughly this time.
And as it is typical with me, it started with a spreadsheet: Rental (Example)
I've removed my personal information, anonymized the contact information, and tweaked it somewhat for publication, and I'll explain how to use it:
The first tab "Variables"
has a few boxes to enter in information. You really only need Budget and Work Address, but I've provided a box for Monthly take-home pay to help figure out your budget for rent, with some common proportions.
The second tab "Websites"
has resources for: Finding apartments Crime Neighborhoods
The official TPD crime maps
let you filter by type of incident, but they also use random boundaries (possibly not to suggest specific "bad blocks"), however it's hard to get a good sense of a neighborhood's safety that way, so I thought Trulia's system
was a better gauge for that.
The third tab "Rentals"
is where I did a lot of data entry and where all of the work is done.
The first grey section lists the properties with essential data (rent, square footage, bedrooms, bathroom, address), links to Google Street View for remote street reconnaissance, and generated Google Maps directions to the property from your current location.
The green section relates how this data relates to your goals. It's sorted by Score, which is a simple addition of Distance to Work (graded on a curve) + how much under Budget it is + the cost of the square footage is (graded on a curve).
(You may notice the 3rd entry is 100% under budget but that’s because no rent was listed.)
The second grey section starts with how long the property has been listed, then the office hours, the status of the apartment or contact attempt, followed by contact information with generated telephone hyperlinks (to allow for easy calling from a smartphone). After that is a listing of different features, what floor it’s on, what features/appliances it has (0 confirmed no, 1 maybe, 2 confirmed yes), when it was built, then additional fees and charges.
That’s followed by a questionnaire (sourced from Reddit, fully listed in the 4th tab
), then a listing of all the websites where the property was listed and the data collected.
The next dark grey section is where the supporting information for the calculated values starts, first with the address, then the distances from the property to my Work from Google Maps, then square footage calculation.
I had a limited amount of time to find an apartment with fairly low funds, so I spent a good deal of time collecting data for and developing the spreadsheet before driving around for a couple days while making plenty of calls to get more details and schedule viewings. I had this spreadsheet loaded on my phone, and was able to easily make calls, get directions and make notes. Between appointments, I also drove around neighborhoods that I was interested in, and called the phone numbers listed on signs, in case they hadn’t gotten around to listing them online yet.
Many of the apartments I looked at were in what I felt were somewhat sketchy areas, and not in great condition, so I had begun to resign myself to that reality. However in the end, I was so relieved when I found an apartment in a nice quiet neighborhood that had a yard, for $55 under budget. That said, it’s a small studio without a dishwasher, washer or dryer. But I also cut out 4 hours and 110 miles of commuting a week. There have been a few minor issues with it but I’ve been pretty pleased.
So I went into this level of detail because I like having some degree of certainty that I’ve made the best decisions I can, but I realize that this is definitely not for everybody. I just hope that there are some good resources and ideas that can help others out.
To make your own spreadsheet, you should be able to copy mine and then edit the copy. edit
: If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know.