How to Find Homes for Rent – 5 Incredibly Simple Steps

how to find homes for rent

How to Find Homes for Rent

In 2016, about one-third of the U.S. population lived in a rental property, and there were about 42.58 million housing units that were occupied by renters. For many people, renting a home is an excellent choice when they don’t have enough money for making a down payment or ready to purchase one. With the growing U.S. real estate market, it can be a challenge to find a home that suits your needs. Some markets are somewhat costlier than others while other locations are quite competitive. Still, it’s possible to get a decent home to accommodate your household needs. Here are 5 simple tips on how to find homes for rent to help make your search smooth.

how to find homes for rent

Let’s get straight to it.

1. Determine Your Budget

This is the first task you should tackle to determine your cash flow and manage your income. Ideally, you should opt for a flexible rental unit that gives you peace of mind.

Luckily, there are services, such as Mint, GoSimplifi, and MoneyRight, that can help you manage your personal finances and determine the amount you are willing to set aside for a rental home.

Most homeowners usually spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses. This figure can be inclusive of grocery costs, commuting costs and other expenses.

Keep in mind that you will also need to budget for essential utility such as internet and cable plus other extras like parking, storage and laundry.

Also, factor in the potential costs of moving.

2. What Rental Type Do You Need?

Lease terms differ depending on several factors, so it’s wise to choose a particular rental type that is favorable to you needs.

If you want a short term lease, for example, a six-month option, you can opt for corporate housing or a sublet. For long term rentals, there are varied options that suit your needs.

Some common types you can consider are:

  • Townhouse – This rental provides you privacy, and you may have a patio or yard. The unit can be on a two or more floors. If you are subletting directly from the owner, maintenance may be unpredictable.
  • Apartment – For this option, you live among different people, so it’s not your choice if you want privacy. A property management company is responsible for maintaining the unit.
  • Accessory unit – These units are also great options for privacy and are always found in a pleasant neighborhood. You can expect to share the building with the owner. However, these rentals tend to be smaller than apartments.
  • Single-family home – You will pick this option if have a large family, pets and your kids love noisy habits such as playing music and sports. The home may have several bedrooms and bathrooms, and also privacy.

luxury apartment

With these options, you have an idea on how to find homes for rent that will be convenient and accommodative to your needs.

3. Online Research Works

After determining your budget and the option that you need, you can use online tools to search for rental units in your area.

The best online tools to use are, Trulia, Zillow, and to find an option that is suitable for you. Typically, these sites allow you to filter listings using your state, city, and ZIP code thus making it possible to find an option in the exact location you want.

In fact, this is the quickest and easiest way to get connected with rental management companies or landlords in your area.

Each rental unit listed on these sites usually include their specific details, such as the type of rental, bathroom and bedroom count, pictures of the unit and contact person. This makes it easier for you to make a decision without physically visiting the unit.

4. Friends and Colleagues Can Be Helpful

One of the practical methods on how to find homes for rent is seeking the help of your contacts.

Since you are looking a for a rental unit in your area, call your friends or colleagues and inquire if they are aware of any vacant unit near them. They will certainly help you if they know anything.

Some landlords prefer getting referrals from the existing tenants: You can be one.

Colleagues meeting over a cup of coffee

Your old real estate agent can also be helpful. Simply call the agent and ask them if they have any new rental in your area. Remember to give them your price range.

If you opt to enlist the help of a real estate agent, keep in mind that there are costs involved, and you need to be aware of them.

Using your contacts is an effective way to get rentals first before they get listed as vacant on listing services and local newspapers. Moreover, you don’t want to go to an open inspection.

5. Go House Hunting

If your calls and online search are not yielding anything, then house hunting can be a fun undertaking.

Arrange one or two days when you are available to search for vacant rentals in your area. A simple approach is to go to the particular location that you would love to get a rental.

Some properties usually have “RENT” signs just posted outside the unit. So, that makes it easy for you to find a rental and get more information about it.

Visit several real estate agents to check vacant rentals available in your area. Also, ask them if they have upcoming rental inspections in your area. It won’t hurt going to one.

With house hunting, the trick is to search during midweek when vacant rentals haven’t made it to inspections.

How to Find Homes for Rent – The Bottom Line

Before settling for an option, take ample time to inspect the rental to determine whether it’s ideal for you. Inquire about parking space, laundry and other essential things that you would love to have near the unit.

These tips on how to find homes for rent offer you an easy way to start your search while ensuring sound decision-making. Knowing what you need and planning your budget are necessary steps in getting the right unit.

Renting a home is a great move if you might be moving from your current area after some years. It’s also a great idea, especially for those people living in competitive relative markets and they can’t afford a down payment or mortgage installments.

Choose the right home and live happily!

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  1. Good information! Thank you for sharing this post.

    I really like the title of your website and this particular post I found to be very informative.

    There are a lot of people in my area that could use this information right now. I live in California and recently home values have exponentially increased.

    Landlords have been taking advantage of this, raising rents up to as much as 50% and higher causing many folks to move out and search for a more affordable place to live.

    I’m quite sure people in this situation will find this information and tools very helpful.

    • Hi – Thanks for your comments.

      I wrote this post for those that may not be ready to buy a home. It was primarily focused on people who needed a place to live, while they saved up enough, so that they could live the American Dream through home ownership.

      It’s quite well known that some markets in the US, primarily the California real estate market, are areas not very welcoming to first time home buyers or people on limited incomes.

      I understand that many people live and grew up in these areas and it is very difficult to leave.  So having a plan and sticking to a budget is critical to finding a great place to live in your area, whether you plan to rent or own.

      I’m glad this post was helpful.  Please share this site with all of people you know, so that they can learn more about the intelligent use of credit.


      Credit Squared   

  2. This is a really good article to set proper expectations for going out and renting a home. It’s helpful to know which expenses to factor into the budget.

    The way you lay out this information is good for someone who hasn’t ever been on their own before but also a good refresher for people who need to start over in the process.

    You remind people that renting a home may be a better option than purchasing. Even if you have good credit, you could rent for awhile and save for a larger down payment while you have lower expenses.

    I appreciate the simple approach and all your hard work. I wish you all the best!

    Mike Jay

    • Mike – Thanks for your kind words.  I think you have done a great job of summarizing what the post is all about.

      The article is a simple suggestion that there are better options available until one is ready to buy.

      As you point out, renting first gives people a chance to save up for a larger down payment that puts them in a better position when they are ready to own a home.

      When I first started out, I rented in a very nice area and negotiated an excellent monthly rent payment.

      With that savings I was able to put enough aside to place a 10% down payment on my first home.

      It wasn’t long before I was able to eliminate PMI (private mortgage insurance) due to equity build up and extra principal payments.

      So, sometimes it pays to wait until you are in a better financial position, rather than to be house poor.


      Credit Squared 

  3. Great Article.

    These are 5 simple steps that are easily understandable and gives renters a good idea where to start.

    I have house hunted for rent for the past 2 years. I am a college student that has to rent a home near campus.

    The first round wasn’t so great, because our rent was so high. Luckily, the second time around I decided to download the app Zillow, and let me tell ya….

    So many low price options were flooded in that my roommates and I couldn’t decide which house because they were all awesome and cheap!

    This article just proved to me this is the most effective way for hunting down a house!

    • Hey Tyler – I’m happy to hear the post validated your actual experience.

      I wrote this post with folks like you in mind, that were young and just starting out, and just not quite ready to buy a house.

      Buying a home can be a big responsibility including all the expenses that come along with it.

      Being prepared and knowing how to find homes for rent before you are ready to take the plunge into home ownership can be a winning strategy.


      Credit Squared

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