Once you’ve decided you want to move into a new apartment, the next step is deciding when to start your search. This is a delicate balancing act. If you start looking too early, you might not find any apartments available for your preferred dates, but if you start looking too late, you risk running out of time. If you have an existing lease, you’ll also need to consider when to give notice and whether you’d like the leases to overlap. 

So what is the best time to look for apartments? Ultimately, the answer will depend on where you’re moving and your own personal timeline. Here’s everything you need to know about when to start looking for apartments. 

Factors That Influence the Move-In Timeline

How early should you start looking for an apartment? There are a variety of things to consider when planning your move-in timeline. The first is the rental market in your area and the number of units that are available. If you’re moving to a city or town with high levels of competition for apartments, an early start will give you more time to navigate the market. Keep in mind that apartments go fast, so you’ll need to be quick when scheduling tours. However, if your city has plenty of apartments available and little competition, a shorter move-in timeline may be more appropriate. 

It’s also important to consider when you’ll be moving. This is particularly important if you’re moving to a college town, where a huge amount of turnover between May and September is common. What time of year is it hardest to find an apartment? Many people opt to move during the summer to take advantage of the warm weather and align with the school calendar. Because of this, it’s generally easier to find an apartment during the summer and more difficult during the fall and winter. Although inventory may be low in the winter, rental prices tend to be lower as well. 

When to Start Looking for Apartments

So exactly when should I start looking for an apartment? Generally, a 60- to 90-day timeline is long enough to find a new rental without starting too early. Here’s what to keep in mind when starting your apartment hunt. 

Give Notice to Your Current Landlord

Before you start your apartment hunt, determine when you’ll need to provide a move-out notice to your current landlord. This information should be specified in your lease. Landlords usually require a 30- to 60-day notice, but it is helpful to provide notice early if you know you’ll be moving out. 

Start Researching Online Early

If you’re considering moving out at the end of your lease, take a look at apartment listings online three to four months ahead of time. Pay attention to the availability dates. Are they one, two or even three months out? This information will help you plan ahead and decide when to start searching. This is also a great time to identify neighborhoods you’re interested in and what sort of amenities you’re looking for. 

Determine Whether You’ll Overlap Leases

Another key decision to make before you start apartment hunting is whether you’ll overlap your old and new leases or not. Many renters opt to overlap their leases for up to a month, which gives them more time to move and makes the process less stressful. However, overlapping leases also come with additional costs, so you’ll need to keep that in mind as well. 

Schedule Your Showings

Depending on your rental market, you’ll want to start scheduling showings 60 to 90 days ahead of your move-in date. You may also want to consider working with a realtor if you’re in a competitive market. If you don’t currently live in the city you are moving to, schedule a virtual tour instead. 

What is the Best Time of Year to Look For Apartments? 

The summer and early fall are typically the best time of year to look for apartments. This is because many people move out of their apartments in the summer to coincide with the end of the school year, which results in more availabillity. In areas that experience harsh winters, many people move during this time to avoid dealing with snow and ice. 

What Time of Year is it Hardest to Find an Apartment? 

Inventory tends to be lowest during the winter months. If you are looking during this period of time, you might not have very many options to choose from. 

When Should I Start Applying For Apartments?

Before you apply for an apartment, you’ll need to take a tour of the space. You should also talk with the property manager to ask all of your questions. If the apartment is a good fit in terms of space, location and move-in date, applying right away will increase your chances of getting the apartment before someone else does.

Keep in mind that you can apply for multiple apartments at once. Nothing is official until you sign a lease. However, you will need to pay application fees, so only apply for apartments you are truly interested in to keep costs down. The application process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete, but you’ll still need plenty of time afterward to finalize the lease and move-in details. 

Find Your Next Apartment With Southern Management

So, how early should you start looking for an apartment? In most cases, two to three months is the sweet spot for apartment hunting, but it never hurts to start doing your research early. 

If you’re looking for a new apartment in the Baltimore or Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Southern Management is here to help. With a wide range of floor plans and amenities to choose from, our apartment communities offer something for everyone. 

Reach out today to learn more or schedule a tour. We can’t wait to welcome you home!