Apartment searches made easy: our top tips


Are you fed up with sharing an apartment or looking to move out of the family home? Then it's time to start looking for your own apartment. The whole search process can take a lot of time depending on where you want to live, and can throw up the occasional obstacle. But never fear: we’ve got some great tips to help you pinpoint your dream apartment quickly and efficiently.

What are you looking for?

Having a list of criteria is important if you want to find what you're looking for without wasting time along the way. If you’ve already lived in a flat share, then you’ll probably already have a few key things in mind.

The main criteria for your new apartment will be the overall size, the number of rooms, the rent and the location. Will you be living alone or with someone else? Maybe you need a spare room as an office? When it comes to the rent, the general rule of thumb is that it shouldn't account for more than a third of your income. Landlords often stipulate this, too.

Once you have the basic info, there may well be a number of other points to consider: Do you want a balcony or garden? Do you have a pet that[KB1]  lives with you? Would you prefer to live in an older property or a new apartment?

Where’s the best place to look?

As soon as you've worked out your criteria, you can embark on your property search. Homegate makes it a breeze. Just enter the location, number of rooms and your price range, and then you can set the other filters to reflect your list of criteria. Be sure to check the availability dates for any vacant apartment, too, to make sure that they fit with your schedule.

You can use our search alert function so you won’t have to do a new search every day. Simply save your search criteria and enter your email address to get the latest listings straight to your inbox every day.

As the housing market can be highly competitive and searching for a property can sometimes take quite a while, you can also harness the power of your social circle in addition to searching on Homegate. Let your friends and family know that you're looking for an apartment or put a call out on social media.

Have you come across a promising-looking listing? Then go ahead and contact the landlord. You can put your details into the contact form right beside the listing on the Homegate website. If the advertiser would prefer to be contacted via a different channel, this will be noted in the listing.

When you first start searching, it’s worth contacting several listers. This will give you a good overview and you won’t waste any time if someone doesn't get back to you right away.

What should I look for at a viewing?

It’s time for your first apartment viewing! If you don’t have an individual appointment, it’s worth getting there early; otherwise, if there’s a lot of interest, you might have to queue. Factor in enough time to get a good impression of the place.

As apartments are often taken shortly after the viewing, it makes sense to have all your documents ready beforehand. You will definitely need an up-to-date extract from the debt collection register. You can get this from your local residential registry office. You may also be able to order it online, but it can take a couple of days to arrive.

To make sure you don’t forget anything during the viewing itself, use our checklist and work through all of the points. It’s a good idea to ask the landlord, previous tenant or estate agent a few questions to make yourself stand out. Who are the other tenants in the building? Is there bicycle storage? Do you have to stick to a laundry schedule?

You could also ask permission to take photos. This will help you remember everything and compare the different apartments.

Once you’ve looked at everything carefully and asked your questions, it only remains to fill in the application form.

What’s the best way to apply?

Have you found an apartment that looks right for you? Then you’ll need to be quick: if the landlord receives more than one equally attractive application, they will usually give priority to the first application received. Don’t rush it, though, and make sure that your documentation is all present and correct. Submitting a completed application form and your extract from the debt collection register are essential. If any additional documents are required, this will usually be specified on the form. We explain what you have to answer and what you don’t in another article.

It’s definitely worth enclosing a personal letter or your CV along with your application in order to give the landlord a sense of who you are. You could also include you latest wage slip to show that you can afford the apartment. If you haven’t already had to provide references in the form, you could provide these contact details now. Ask someone like your employer to act as a reference.

Our article on applying for an apartment also has some great tips to help you out.

What should I look for in the rental agreement?

You're almost there now; you just need to sign the rental agreement. Read it through carefully and make sure that it's complete. If you spot any discrepancies or have any questions about the agreement, it’s best to go over it in person with your landlord. See here for what to be aware of and what's allowed.

What happens next?

As soon as you’ve signed the rental agreement, you can get on with planning your move. Our guide contains lots of useful moving tips.

Have a wonderful time in your new home!

More articles on this topic

Your first apartment checklist
Furnishing your first apartment