Wondering how to find an apartment in Miami? We've got you covered.
Here's the quick answer: First step, establish what neighborhoods you're interested in. Next, determine your "must haves" and your "would-be-nice-to haves." Then, plan to start your search about 45 days before your lease. And finally, make sure you have all your application materials prepared before you look for apartments.
That's the 30-second version. Read on to get the full details about setting yourself up from a high-success, low-stress apartment search.
Let's get started.
Using a rental agent is by far the most popular approach, because there's no downside.
One major advantage of looking for an apartment in Miami is that it's a renter's market + there's really good listing information. In essence, you can hire a licensed real estate agent to assist with your search — and who has access to nearly all the apartments on the market through the regional MLS — and you don't pay a dime.
Compared to cities like Boston and New York, looking for an apartment in Miami is like...
Before you take my word for it, here's some insight from the ground in Miami.
I never underestimate thoughtful comments written by long-time locals. The following image/table is inspired by a true nugget of wisdom — which we've confirmed with a number of residents, landlords and real estate agents in Miami — from a redditor in Miami detailing the pros and cons of different apartment search approaches in Miami. Without further ado...
TL;DR: If you have considerable knowledge of the area/real estate law, the Owner does not have a [rental agent], and you want the lowest possible price, go with Scenario 1. If you are new to the area/real estate law, get a [rental agent]. If the Owner has a [rental agent], hiring your own [rental agent] will not increase transaction cost, so get a [rental agent].
Here are the four scenarios (from a renter's perspective) — heads up, avoid #3!
"Also, Craigslist, Hot Pads, and Zillow are NOT recommended unless you can produce Scenario 1 and have in depth knowledge of the area/real estate law."
This statement makes sense to me since there would be no distinct advantages to browsing Craigslist or an internet listing site over just contacting a rental agent first and having him or her perform searches on your behalf with better information.
Heads up! Don't use just any agent.
Although rental agents will have access to much of the same inventory, the quality of the agent you work with will make a huge difference.
Don't settle for any agent. Look for agents with a great track record of providing awesome service.
Image source: ioanpetras.com
And don't just look for highly-rated real estate brokerages.
Look for mentions of high-quality experiences with specific agents. It's the agent you'll be working with — talking on the phone, going on showings, filling out paperwork — and not the brokerage.
Sometimes the best agents can work at poorly-rated real estate brokerages. But why in the world would they do that? Sometimes less reputable agencies are willing to give better commission splits to their top performers. As such, a really great agent might choose to stay at a not-so-hot agency because he or she brings in more deals than his peers, making him or her a greater asset to the agency. It can beat working at a reputable firm where competition amongst agents is tight.
Still planning your move to Miami? Check out our other great resources.
Moving to Miami Guide
One-sentence summary: This article is the opposite of those useless listicles that tell you 20 factoids about Miami — this article will give you in-depth, step-by-step guidance on how to actually plan and make the move to Miami.
Best Neighborhoods in Miami
One-sentence summary: This article will cover the top 5 neighborhoods in Miami for young professionals, families with children and U Miami students (go Canes).
Average Rent in Miami
One-sentence summary: The average rent in Miami is about $2,200 — keep in mind that's split between two people (on average per household).
Cost of Living in Miami
One-sentence summary: For renters in Miami, the baseline monthly cost of living is from $1600-2400 — depending on roommates and not including entertainment, transportation and other expenditures.