7 Best Places To Find an Apartment Online

Looking for an apartment? These rental sites offer distinct features and search tools to help prospective renters locate the perfect place to live

Finding an apartment or condo to rent can be daunting. And the current rental climate has made things even more challenging.

An influx of college graduates who need a place to live, the financial fallout from COVID-19 and climbing inflation rates preventing many from qualifying for a home loan all lead to one thing: more people are renting than ever before. That’s according to Nicole Ryan, spokesperson for the National Apartment Association.

“The rental housing market is strained right now,” Ryan says. “We’ve seen it in the news headlines, but when looking at rentals the No Vacancy sign is really on. We’re facing a 97.6 percent occupancy rate, which is historically high.”

“And there’s very little unit turnover. So you have a lot of folks opting to stay in place and renew their leases, simply because there just isn’t inventory available.”

Online rental sites can help prospective renters improve their odds of finding the right apartment.

Most sites offer basic, built-in search options with filters to narrow by location, apartment size and type, lease terms and property amenities. Many also provide map views and virtual tours. Some even offer mobile apps to make apartment searching more convenient while on the go.

To boost your search, here are the best places to find an apartment online, with signature features and tools of each:

Best Site To Cast the Biggest Search and Sign a Lease: Zillow

Website: zillow.com.
Launched: 2006.
Fee: Free to search. A $29 application fee includes an unlimited number of participating rental applications for 30 days. The fee includes a background report and credit check that’s informational-only and doesn’t affect your credit score.

Zillow is recognized as the most comprehensive property search engine in the industry, with the highest web traffic. Its user-friendly and graphic-rich features allow renters to cast a wide net and search across multiple real estate listing sites and data sources.

Plus, renters can make it a one-stop shop by using the Zillow Rental Manager tool to complete the entire rental process — search, apply, sign a lease and pay rent — all within one, convenient resource hub. Tenants pay a 2.95 percent processing fee if using a credit card, and $9.95 debit card convenience fee when paying rent through the rental portal.

Best Site To Find Your Dream Neighborhood: Trulia

Website: trulia.com.
Launched: 2005.
Fee: Free to search. A $29 application fee includes an unlimited number of participating rental applications for 30 days, and a soft pull on credit and background reports.

Trulia, a Zillow subsidiary, is another powerful site that pulls from multiple rental sources. Unlike other sites, it gives potential renters insight into what it’s really like to live in a specific area. It offers neighborhood guides, resident reviews and stories, and local feedback about where to eat and shop.

The robust map overlay function helps renters dig even deeper into the neighborhood story to reveal such things as market trends, top schools and best transportation modes.

Best Site To Gather the Most Details: Apartments.com

Website: apartments.com.
Launched: 1992.
Fee: Free to search. Some listings allow you to apply through Apartments.com. Fee is $29 to submit your application and screening reports, which can be applied to other participating rentals for up to 30 days.

One million-plus listings and 35 search filters make Apartments.com a go-to resource for renters who want plenty of data and choices to make an informed rental decision.

A signature feature: The built-in drawing tool to define geographic borders around where renters want to live. A Travel Time tool also creates map distance between addresses like work and home. That’s especially helpful for renters making a cross-country move who aren’t familiar with daily nuances of a particular location.

Best Site To Conduct a Simple Search: Craigslist

Website: craigslist.org.
Launched: 1995.
Fee: Free.

While it’s an open-marketplace site that reads like a classified newspaper ad, Craigslist is a useful, no-frills online search tool to find an apartment or condo.

Listings aren’t screened, so beware of fake ads. But it’s a great place to uncover apartment gems and off-the-beaten path rentals, like a guest house.

Rental opportunities are sectioned by city worldwide, with listings that include photos, basic property details and property contact information. Plus, it features a “housing wanted” category so you can post a rental request that meets your exact needs.

Best Site To Discover a Walkable Apartment: Walk Score

Website: walkscore.com.
Launched: 2007.
Fee: Free.

You can search for an apartment on Walk Score, but it stands out from other online rental sites because it tells renters whether nearby amenities are walkable.

Renters select an area on a map that’s assigned a 0 to 100 “walkability” score from any address in the United States and Canada, based on proximity to grocery stores, coffee shops, hospitals and parks. Users also can chart commute times for bus, car, foot and bicycle transportation.

Best Site for Rental Newcomers: Rent.com

Website: rent.com.
Launched: 1999.
Fee: Free.

First-time renters can be unsure of themselves, so Rent.com is geared toward rental newbies with simple browsing functions. It’s loaded with beginner tips and resources, including a first-time apartment checklist to help with budgeting and the rental process, and free moving quotes.

The site’s hospitable nature extends to those looking for pet-friendly rentals, off-campus student housing and apartments for seniors and military personnel.

Best Site for Renters on a Budget: Zumper

Website: zumper.com.
Launched: 2011.
Fee: Free.

Zumper distinguishes itself by offering cost-conscious apartment seekers a chance to select neighborhoods, filter dwellings by minimum and maximum price, then view listings next to a detailed map that compares sample prices of similar rentals in the area.

Besides a budget affordability calculator, the site lets renters see how their dollars stack up through median price alerts and data reports published for select cities.

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