Finding quality apartments for rent can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, but it pays to think outside the barn. Few cities actually run out of available rental housing — most would consider it an economic success story if they did. What keeps many of these flats vacant or unnoticed is either location, condition or rental rates. If a major employer leaves town, many of the neighboring apartments suddenly become empty. Cities with a large military presence may also experience major shifts in the availability of rental properties as troops are reassigned.
If you're serious about finding good apartments to rent, make your intentions known to everyone around you. Co-workers may be landlords or tenants themselves, so they may learn of vacant places before the news hits the streets. Fellow religious body members might also own rental property or be moving into new homes. Many people become landlords almost by accident, so they are not always eager to place an ad in the paper when flats become available. They would much rather rent to someone they know and trust, so by all means make your interests known by advertising in a company newsletter or church bulletin.
Another good way to find places to rent is to think like a college student. If you live in a college town, visit the student center bulletin boards for leads on rental properties. Some campuses also feature a student-led housing assistance center where local landlords can post notices of off-campus apartments for rent. Not all college town landlords are willing to consider non-student applicants, but sometimes the most affordable properties are located close to the main campus. You might also want to visit other places college students might frequent, such as public laundromats, coffeeshops and 24-hour restaurants. If places become available, these are the places most likely to receive homemade flyers.
The local newspaper is almost always a safe bet for finding apartments for rent, but be prepared for sticker shock. Many of the advertisements are taken out by professional rental agents or multiple apartment complexes. These are generally the medium to high rent places designed for working professionals and dual-income families. If this is within your budget, then the local newspaper should provide plenty of places to start your search. Individual flats listed in the local paper often generate dozens if not hundreds of calls, so don't be surprised if many of the leads are already taken.
Many professional real estate companies have found themselves working as rental agencies as well, so they may have several places for rent. Look for tabloid magazines offered for free at many restaurants which list current rental properties and apartments. It might also pay to drive around the downtown shopping district and speak with local shopkeepers. Many of the buildings found downtown were originally designed to house the store owners in second or third story flats. Some of the stores' landlords and building owners may still maintain apartments as part of a revitalization effort.
Previously abandoned warehouses are also often converted into artists' lofts and private apartments, so you may want to speak with the local chamber of commerce about their future plans. They may also maintain their own listings of local properties and places available to rent.