There are important questions to ask yourself besides "Can it fit a pool table?"
Step 1: Prepare budget Prepare a budget. Factor in not only rent but how much you'll likely spend on things like utilities, phone, and cable.
TIP: If the amount you can afford for rent seems too low, consider sharing an apartment.
Step 2: Determine priorities Determine your priorities—the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, how far you're willing to commute, pet-friendliness, and amenities such as gyms, pools, and laundry facilities.
Step 3: Research neighborhoods Research different neighborhoods. Find out the average rent; whether there are any parks; the kind of shops, clubs, and restaurants nearby; and whether traffic and parking is a problem.
TIP: Walk around a neighborhood you're interested in—both to make sure it's what you're looking for and to look for rent signs.
Step 4: Decide on broker Decide whether to use a broker. A broker can do a lot of the legwork for you; the downside is that in a big city it will cost you as much as 15% of your annual rent.
TIP: Check with your school or employer. They often have contacts in the rental market.
Step 5: Check classifieds Check classified ads, both in print and online, to see what's available and what the going rate is in a particular neighborhood. Get the earliest edition you can.
TIP: Check out neighborhood bulletin boards, like those at coffee houses and community centers.
Step 6: Contact landlord When you see a promising apartment listing, contact the landlord or property manager right away to set up an appointment.
Step 7: Inspect apartment Inspect the apartment. Dress professionally and act politely—you want to convey that you are responsible, serious, and will pay rent on time.
Step 8: Understand terms of lease Make sure you understand the terms of the lease, such as when rent is due, the maintenance procedures, and if there's a security deposit.
Step 9: Submit application If you find an apartment you like, submit an application to the landlord or property manager immediately. Good apartments go quickly!
Step 10: Negotiate cost Assuming you're accepted, negotiate to see if there's any way to lower the cost, then sign the lease. Congratulations, you now have a new apartment!
FACT: The Roman Empire was among the first to have apartments in the modern sense, known as "insulae."