or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › How do you apartment shop in an area you can't visit first?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How do you apartment shop in an area you can't visit first?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I've been looking into apartments in the Philadelphia area for my boyfriend because he is overseas. Thing is, I don't live in philly. I've been going to the apartment ratings websites, but we are still concerned about his commiting to a lease without first seeing the place, and we can't afford to go there before he moves there in mid-September. It is so hard to shop for a place we can't look at.

Does anyone have any experiences/advice on apartment shopping sight unseen?
post #2 of 9
Admittedly, I'm not overly familiar with Philly. Only been a few times. But is there a department of housing or something similar? Could either be a state or city department. One of my friends lives in an apt in NYC and had to call the dept of housing quite a few times on her landlord and they register all the complaints. The one thing she mentions all the time is how she wished she had checked with them first because then she would know before hand what kind of ****hole she was renting. And she had seen the place before renting it... sometimes you just dont know you have a slumlord until youve been in the place a while.

But when I moved to FL I was living in NY and actually found my apartment on rent.net. Although, I got lucky and had a chance to check it out when I came down for my job interview.

Also... you might want to check out aimco.com and see if they have any apartments in the area you want to move to. I know a lot of people who live in apartments from that company and they've been quite happy with them. And the ones I know of are quite nice about pet policies.

Which leads me to another reminder - always double check the pet policy. I almost rented one apartment that was a little cheaper when I was told they take all dogs. When I called them they informed me that they take "all dogs under 35lbs"... which didn't help me much with Karma weighing in around 60lbs at the time.

post #3 of 9
If there is ANY way you can go see it first, do it. I was in a similar situation and if I had rented the place I was about to, it would have been a total disaster. It's too far away from where I need to be, it is in a bad neighborhood, etc. I finally had to come see the places, and found the perfect one, which didn't look that great on paper but actually is.

What I would really reccomend is finding a place to sublet for a month or find somewhere with a short-term lease in the area he wants to live in, and then start looking for a better place once he gets there, if he can't get out there.

And if you know anybody that lives/lived in Philadelphia, ask them about the areas. Here, I called someone I knew and they gave me the streets to stay between and what area was better/less expensive/etc.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments

I found two properties on the aimco.com website in the philly area real close to where he will be working. One has apartments available for the time he is arriving and the other doesn't. On the ratings sites the residents claim that the available one is in a safe area but that there are mice in the building. Are mice something to be concerned about? There seem to be some problems (crime or critters) with most of the cheaper apartments that are rated online though...

I don't know what their pet policy is but he doesn't currently have any pets.

I looked for sublets but wasn't able to find any in the area he will be in..

I couldn't find any kind of department of housing that had any information about landlords.

I'm worried that this apartment will be gone soon because it is in a university area and the semester is starting up. Should he chance it?
post #5 of 9
There will be massive amounts of apartments in a university area, although most will be filling up for fall semester/quarter.

I would contact the university and see if they have an off-campus student housing service that runs an apartment listing. That's how I found mine. Here's Drexel's: http://www.drexel.edu/oca/offcampushousing/default.asp as an example. Most schools run something similar, he need not be a student to look at the listings if they're posted online. And they have a link to UPenn's, http://www.business-services.upenn.edu/offcampusliving/
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the links Zissou'sMom! The aimco.com apartment that has the available studio is listed in that upenn off campus housing link. I wonder if it is safe to just pick one of the apartments on that list.. The ratings look pretty good.
post #7 of 9
Did you check the "landlord survey" link on UPenn's site? There are lots of sites that review apartments, and it's usually good to check them all, since sometimes landlords or employees will post claiming that it's spectacular when it's awful. Just something to think about, it is the ever-so-sort-of-anonymous internet.

Some college students would absolutely love a building that most other people (like who have a full-time job) would absolutely hate. Students tend to have different criteria for rating a building, like for instance if they can get away with their apartment reeking like pot.

And yes, roaches/rats/mice anything are HORRIBLE. I don't care where you are, if someone mentions a vermin problem then there are some other serious problems with the building. Yes, everywhere in an urban area will have a couple bugs, but with roaches, if you've seen one, your place is infested, and same with mice. To me, that signals the place is either a dump or has uncaring, bad landlords, or both. Or that all the neighbors have half-full pizza boxes and dirty dishes stacked in their apartment, another thing you don't want. I am 10 or 12 blocks away from downtown, and there are no mice or bugs here aside from a couple little tiny gnats and a cricket that came in the door with me once.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I did check the landlord surveys on the upenn link and they are very helpful. It does seem that the students have a lot less complaints.

Now here's the hard part. I checked on a bunch of places and most of them will not be available at the time my boyfriend arrives. Of the ones that are available, there's the aimco one that is really close to the university (he's going to be research staff there), but residents claimed that one had mice before a recent total building renovation that aimco brought when they took over. I wonder if the mice are still there.. probably. The others are farther from the university and aren't on the off-campus housing list, and the ratings are few to non-existent though they claim not to have a critter problem.. Anything farther out won't work since my boyfriend doesn't want to rely on public transportation.

It seems that the closer he is to the university the safer the area (unless you cross the river, which I suggested but he doesn't want to do because the places over there are more expensive). So... should he take the close by place that had the mice and is associated with university off-campus housing, or try an independent place that is a little farther away and doesn't claim to have a critter infestation problem?
post #9 of 9
Take the closer one. Since they've come under new ownership/management and been renovated, any complaints previous to that probably are no longer valid.

Also, call the management and ask very pointed questions, like "I heard your building had a mice problem before, what have you done / what are you doing to fix this problem?" And ask exactly what size the apartment is, etc.

Although just one caveat: anyplace can list themselves with university housing. They are not approved or anything by the university, they are simply listed just like in the paper. So his building isn't associated with university housing, it's just listed on their site.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Cat Lounge
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › How do you apartment shop in an area you can't visit first?