The good, the bad and the ugly of Chicago apartment hunting

Our friend Jessica is in the midst of searching for apartments. She found the apartment she’s moving out of on Craigslist posted by two guys looking for a third roommate. She moved into the three-bedroom Lincoln Park abode and says the living situation worked out, but she’s ready to live by herself now. She gave us her opinion about searching for apartments through Web sites or rental services (apartment finders):

“Honestly, I think Craigslist seems to advertise the best deals for your money. I think the biggest rip-off is usually going to those apartment rental agencies such as Apartment People. They show you apartments free of charge, and make their money off the landlords, who I think compensate these people with a month’s rent on average. Every time I’ve gone to one of these people I’ve been shown very overpriced crap. I think this is because the landlords will hike up their monthly rent to make up for the money they’re spending on this service. For instance, I know someone who is paying $750 a month rent for his studio he found from the Apartment People in Boys Town, but I saw (apartments in) his same complex advertised on Craigslist for $650 a month. This may be because he only signed a six-month lease as opposed to a year lease …but it seems rather suspicious to me.

“Another good way to find a deal is just to walk around an area you like and look for ‘for rent’ signs. The less advertising someone has to do to rent out their apartment, the less rent they will usually be inclined to charge, probably partially because they are less knowledgeable about the fair rental value of their apartment.”

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