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How do you find apt in city you don't know well?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm moving to Columbus in August to go to Ohio State and I need an apartment, like, right now. But I can't get there very easily, so I need to find an apartment from here. So, how do you find out if the building is in a good neighborhood, etc? I've found one that I absolutely love but the area seems like it might be questionable but then again it might be fine. Anyone with experience doing this? I don't mind having an apartment sight unseen, I don't expect it to be too great for the price I'm paying so it's not that so much as just the neighborhood. I don't wanna get robbed or whatever. If anyone lives in Columbus please pm me! And if anyone has any advice, I could definitely use it.
post #2 of 17
I don't live in your area (not in your country actually) but my fiance and I just moved into an area that we were not familiar with...we used the internet extensively. Even to get on there to get the phone numbers of rental agencies in the area.

Best of luck, I know how tough it is!
post #3 of 17
Do a search in the city's newspapers about that particular neighborhood. If you don't get any hits, that's a good thing. LOL Or the suburb (if it's not Columbus proper). And see if anyone here has ever lived in Columbus. Do an internet search on the complex itself - again, if there is nothing in the news, or big complaints or lawsuits filed against the complex that's a good thing.
post #4 of 17
Here's a website that might help

http://columbus.apartments.com

I'll PM you too!
post #5 of 17
I was in the very same situation, what I did was look in the local newspaper or on the local newspapers website; it would be in the Classifieds section under rentals. Find a few apartments to go to on the same day or throughout the week, and if you know someone that you can stay with, while viewing the apartments that would be great. Call the apartment buildings that you want to view to make an appointment. You should get a feel of the place right away. Even just drive or walk around the area to see what it is like.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, part of my dilemma is that I can't actually go to Columbus without renting a car which is also hard when you're 21 (Enterprise is pretty much the only company who will rent to you) and also the apartments are filling up so fast its crazy. The one I was looking at already filled today.

I have found someone who lives currently in the area. He was very surprised to get a call from me since I haven't talked to him since high school! But he was very willing to help, and he said the street the one I'm looking at now is actually in a much better neighborhood than the old one. And told me exactly what streets to stay between and which ones to avoid being south of or east of, which is very helpful. Hopefully this new one I've found is in a good place! As for Ohio State, I don't need to live in a nice neighborhood, just one thats mostly other students rather than the outskirts of Columbus. I think it's a very good sign that this landlord assumed I go to Ohio State without me even mentioning it!

Thank you all for the advice, I never even thought about looking in the Dispatch for stories about the area. It is Columbus proper, and I'm sure there will be plenty of couch fires! That's one thing I like about Kent State, you don't have to worry much about the neighborhoods here since it's basically a college in the middle of rural ohio. I've never lived in a big city...it's scary.
post #7 of 17
You might want to try this: http://www.apartmentratings.com/

Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt... I've been in your shoes about 3 times and I did the best research I could online and then signed a short lease in case the place was awful. Good luck!
post #8 of 17
Do you know anyone in the city already? Perhaps you could call a guidance counselor at the school and they could give you some clues.

I fell into this trap when I first moved to Jackson. I didn't know the city at all - had only been here a couple of times before and I was trying to find a reasonable apartment. I found one alright - and luckily it was in a "semi-decent" area of the city.

I lived there for like 3 years before moving to a much better area and then lived there for about 3 more years, then circumstances caused me to move to my present location - in downtown - which isn't that great of an area.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, I found this apt through the off-campus student organization... I'm not sure what you mean by a college guidance counselor. I know we had those in grade school, but OSU is twice as big as Kent State and there's 30,000 people here (including branch campuses).

I looked at the apartmentratings.com but these landlords aren't listed oh well. I've looked at them for the apt I live in now and it has such mixed reviews, alot of the bad ones are from previous managers/owners. Finding college apartments is alot different than any other kind of apartment I think. And I also think I have very low expectations of apartments, it's kind of like a lengthy hotel stay to me, you just show up and see what you get. As long as it really is a two bedroom townhouse and the water runs I probably won't be disapointed. It's really a place to sleep until I move on to bigger and better things... It's not the apt I'm worried about it's the area. The neighborhood its in is concerning to me because I don't want to be scared and I get scared very easily, but from what my friend told me it's in about standard sort of neighborhood for OSU student housing. I think I'm just soooo concerned because growing up I heard all these terror stories about how the second you walked off campus you were in the scary-neighborhood type place, but then again the people telling the stories were, as everyone in my high school was, very sheltered.
"Semi-decent" is pretty much what I'm hoping for. I hate snobby almost as much as scary, I want the type of place where people just don't mess up your car while sleeping (though that happens where I live now, I guess?)

Thank you guys for all your suggestions!!!!! I am putting them to good use. I've never had to just do something like this mostly on my own and I'm sort of stumbling my way through it.


But the best news is........ (drumroll) I can get a second cat!!! Yay!!!
post #10 of 17
Well, if you like it, go for it!
post #11 of 17
I was going to mention to check with the local authorities (i.e. Campus police or columbus' police station). They're allowed to let you know which neighborhoods to avoid!
post #12 of 17
Okay I am debating moving from a farm to a city which is a bit scary but I was raised by my dad and he insisted both of his daughters learn self defense and honestly if you will be living and traveling alone it doesn't really matter where you live if you are smart about what you do. If I was you I would enroll in a self defense course (corny I know) and on the apartment I think the local papers is a good idea. And try asking people that live there if you know any what they think
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom
It's not the apt I'm worried about it's the area. The neighborhood its in is concerning to me because I don't want to be scared and I get scared very easily, but from what my friend told me it's in about standard sort of neighborhood for OSU student housing. I think I'm just soooo concerned because growing up I heard all these terror stories about how the second you walked off campus you were in the scary-neighborhood type place, but then again the people telling the stories were, as everyone in my high school was, very sheltered.
Like all schools, there's a decent neighborhood and then there's that not-so good part. The university I went to had that. There was just "one area" that had really good priced apts ($400/mo for 2 bedroom and HUGE sized apartments), but the neighborhood was VERY questionable...too many incidences happened.

I personally always go for something mid-range if I could (I understand that funds are limited in college). Then it's not the cheapest place, but you're not overpaying either.

I understand though...where I'm going for my Masters is local, but my mom freaked when she found out that I was going to be commuting in the city of Detroit. Even though it is a great school, fenced in campus, and the program has endless possibilities, the mere fact that I was going into "The D" had her imagining me being shot/killed and thrown in the Detroit River only to have my body found 3 weeks later.
Yes, this stuff could happen, BUT it can happen anywhere. Just choose a place less likely for it to happen.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Oh my. Well that apartment I thought I found is a wash... for one thing they were lying about it telling me it was a townhouse when it was a flat, and for another I found pictures and oh, is it both ugly and scary looking!

But best news! I found a three-bedroom townhouse with a washer/dryer in the basement 2 blocks from campus. It looks just like the house in Full House, all brick with staircases coming up to the front and a bay window and a big (though slightly run-down) kitchen and a claw-foot tub with a shower... it's like, my dream apartment. It was supposed to be 850$ a month but he's giving me almost 200$ off!!!! The only bad thing is that these rental people require a cosigner if you're under 23, so I have to convince my sister to cosign. She probably will!

And I'm going to Columbus to see it on Monday!! Yay! That's probably a good idea since I almost got scammed basically.
Everyone cross your fingers! This place looks like the one (finally, after two near-disasters!)
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by joanne511
You might want to try this: http://www.apartmentratings.com/

Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt... I've been in your shoes about 3 times and I did the best research I could online and then signed a short lease in case the place was awful. Good luck!
I definately agree...I was gonna suggest the same site. It gives you something to go on.... If 8 outta 10 people said it's a roach motel...well 10 people can't be wrong! Good Luck! Ohio State is a great school my girlfriend went there....when she left us, our group of friends stole the street sign in our neighborhood "Buckeye Road" and sent it to her!!!
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
I looked at a survey the grad school at OSU did of people's experience with their rental properties and these people did about average. Not super great, but there were a few companies who did really bad and this wasn't one of them.

Although one of their rental houses a few blocks down has a news article... five students died in a fire. There were six smoke detectors and they all were working and went off, but still all these people died... so that's scary, but I guess it's not really their fault?
post #17 of 17
I'm surprised no one mentioned craigslist. That site is invaluable for resources.

Cool story about craigslist...

My ancestors ended up in St. Louis and 2 of them owned a deli near downtown back in the 30's. Never had any good pictures of it. So, I put up an inquiry on the St. Louis craigslist asking for someone to take a few pictures of where the deli was. I now have quite a few AWESOME photos of the whole block where the deli was.

If you ever need something found out about another city before visiting, craigslist is the place for you.

Just go to www.craigslist.org and search for your city. Yes, international, too!
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