How to Help Your Kid Find That First Apartment

Padmapper, Brokers & More

Urban Explorer
DanielBendjy/E+/Getty Images

By the time a 20-something has moved into his third or fourth place, he's got the tricks and techniques down cold. It is that first-time apartment search that can be a challenging endeavor. While young adults often believe they can manage on their own, committing substantial sums of money - often with parents assistance - requires more than just a "good feeling"

Your college kid or young adult hasn't done it before and may need your help and support. It's probably been years since you have done it yourself. Let your young adult take the lead in finding his or her first "real" apartment, but be there to guide, advise and caution. For example, your child may not understand the downside of living next to the elevator or on the ground floor. You can help them to assess such things as storage capability, whether it will be possible to move large pieces of furniture into the apartment, or if it's a legitimate request to have the apartment painted and/or re-carpeted.

The apartment search city may be on the other side of the country. And - say it with me now - times have changed! So here are a few new tips and tricks to help:

This fantastic little website aggregates apartment rental listings from Craigslist, realtor listings and other online resources, then overlays it on a Google map.

You enter the neighborhood you are looking for and add your parameters (price range, bedrooms, bathrooms, pet-friendly, etc.). The website gives you a flag-festooned map, complete with pop-up details and photos for apartments that fit that description. It also includes nearby restaurants, gyms and other necessities of modern living.

The best part: it's free. Highly recommended.



This may be an obvious place to look though it should not be overlooked. Craigslist allows you to search listings posted in specific areas and each listing often includes a Google map to help get your bearings.

Craigslist has become the classified ads for the modern era and you will find many apartment and room sharing options. Keep checking back because new listings are added daily and the hottest apartments go quick (especially the best deals!).

A word of caution about Craigslist: be sure to check out prospective roommates if that is part of the deal very carefully. Living with a stranger can be a shocking and difficult experience for a young adult. 

Again: it's free! Recommended.

Visit Craigslist

The Campus Housing Office

Most university housing offices also offer rental listings. The listings are posted either online or the old-fashioned way, on a bulletin board.

Landlords who regularly rent to college students will use this campus resource and apartments closest to campus can quickly disappear.

Encourage your child to check both the bulletin board and online resources regularly. Also, check with friends and acquaintances who are graduating or moving on to a new home to see if there's an opportunity to grab an apartment before it goes on the market. Good tenants' referrals are usually welcome.

Alumni Networks

Many campus organizations have email networks and newsletters for alumni that can help with housing searches as well.

Some sororities pool their apartment and job information lists on a national basis. Thetas in California, for example, can get rental and job tips for New York or Philadelphia from other Kappa Alpha Thetas who have settled there via the BettiesList.


The rental market in some cities - New York and Boston, for example - are driven by real estate brokers. That is starting to change thanks to some of the resources listed above.

Newcomers to those cities (or newcomers to the rental market there) will probably find themselves working with a broker. They are expensive - the fee is typically one to two times a month's rent - but they know the territory and can help speed up the search.