Finding an apartment in Chicago can seem pretty daunting.

After all, Chicago is the third biggest city in the entire United States, with over 2.7 million people calling it home. However, that also means it has one of the most dynamic, varied and vibrant housing markets in the country.

Your perfect apartment IS out there – you just need a few pointers on how to find it.

Read on for our ultimate guide to finding an apartment in Chicago.

Location, Location, Location

The golden rule of apartment hunting applies just as much in Chicago as anywhere else on earth. Where do you need to be, and what areas can you afford that are within easy reach?

Step one is to get out a map. Begin first by highlighting the place you visit most often – whether that’s work, parents, school, wherever. That’s your first point of reference.

Then work out how you’ll get there – by car or public transportation.

This will help you rule areas in and out before you’ve been swayed by attractive properties or appealing rents.

Remember, eye-watering parking or transport costs could soon make more affordable rents seem a lot less of a good deal. Make sure you do the math before you commit.

Local Amenities

Write a list of desirable amenities and divide them into three categories – need, want and bonus.

Things on the need list should include services you can’t live without like laundry if you wear clothes, parking if you have a car or public transport links if you don’t.

Be realistic – if you know you need easy access to a pizza place or a park for early morning runs, then factor that into your search.

Some apartment buildings have washer dryers installed in every unit – a definite bonus. However, many still have communal laundry rooms or nothing, leaving you reliant on a local laundromat or laundry service.

While this may seem like a minor inconvenience at first, again, do the math. These costs can add up, and waiting around for other tenants who may be less than considerate in their use of the facilities can also cause major aggro.

Be Picky About Neighbours

When viewing properties on your Chicago apartment search, be sure to view with your ears, as well as your eyes.

It can be good to try to schedule an apartment viewing at a time when other tenants are at home, and you can gauge the noise levels.

This may reveal your apartment is underneath a couple of overgrown frat boys who love nothing more than hosting drunken parties most nights of the week.

Ask the realtor about the neighbors as well. Get a feel for the building. Is it a family place? Home to an established community, with older residents? Or is it close to a university and serving as overspill student housing? Keep a lookout for telltale signs

With a recent survey indicating that 30% of us have moved or thought about it at some point due to bad neighbors, try your hardest to save yourself the hassle and move somewhere they won’t be an issue.

Tap Into Local Knowledge

You can analyze maps, Google stuff, and your math till your blue in the face, but there are some things you can only find out from a living, breathing human… who lives in your target area.

If you’re very fortunate, you bump into a friendly soul who’s willing to give you the lowdown on the neighborhood around the time of your viewing. Chances are though that you won’t.

Speak to friends, colleagues and get on local forums to get a real insider’s perspective on the area. Ask the realtor for their honest take on the area.

Check Out Maintenance Arrangements

Your landlord or landlady may seem really nice and it’s always a good idea to get off on the right foot with them.

That being said, there are always maintenance issues with apartments, and it’s worth discussing arrangements that are in place to deal with these before signing on the dotted line.

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