What to Expect when Renting an Apartment in Chicago

Finding a home in a large city like Chicago is not easy. There are a lot of questions that need to be factored in before committing to a whole year of living in a building. In this guide, we will factor what to expect and look for when searching for a new apartment home. When done correctly, you’ll be happy with your apartment home for years to come!


Factor location and move-in date

It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a new apartment with a broker or on your own via Craigslist, you will need to determine key aspects in your apartment search such as location, price and move-in date. The move-in date is especially important to brokers because this will determine which apartments they can show you. If your move-in date is June 1, they will not be able to show you an apartment that’s available for May 1 as it will probably be rented before you can move in.

Another reason why this date is so important is because Brokers will need to give tenants a heads-up on when their apartment is shown. If you’re interested in seeing an apartment that is currently occupied, the tenant typically needs a 24-hour notice before you can arrive.

Will you want a shorter or longer commute to work? Or is living near a grocery store more important? Knowing your values will enhance your probability of enjoying your new apartment.


Know your price

Finding a specific price-point will make your search a lot easier. To be approved for an apartment you typically will need to show a few pay stubs proving that you make 3x the amount of monthly rent for the unit. So, if your dream apartment costs $1,000 a month, your monthly income should be at least $3,000.

If you do not make 3x the amount of your monthly rent, you might be able to get a guarantor who can sign off for you.


Preparing for your move

So you’ve found your perfect apartment and landed a great price. Your move-in date is in two weeks and you cannot wait to get in and decorate!

Not so fast… In order to prepare for a smooth move and a happy one, a few things need to be accomplished.

About two weeks before your move, you should receive an email from the property manager who will inform you on what to expect in your building. For example, if Internet is provided, they will most likely send you a link to do so online.

The property manager will also be in touch to schedule your move-in time. In a larger building, many times there are a few different move-ins in one day. Organizing a time to use the elevator and pick up your keys will be helpful for everyone.


Moving Tips

First, we recommend you get some boxes. Moving boxes can be ordered from U-Haul or Amazon as well as a variety of other buildings. It makes a huge difference when you’re organized for your move!

Second, establish if you need a moving company or will go the DIY route. If you have more than a couch and a couple of boxes, we recommend hiring a moving company to do the heavy lifting. Many options are available in Chicago such as Windy City Movers, In & Out moving or The Professional Moving Specialists.

Third, know where to park. Every building is different when it comes to moving in. Will you be using the back of the door to move in or the main entrance? Is there a specific elevator? Answering these questions can possibly save you from a ticket or tow.


Move-in Follow Up

Within the first week of your move you will be asked to fill out an apartment walkthrough sheet. Here you can note any damages or issues you find with the apartment. Be sure to be precise as this is the same sheet you will be handed during your move-out walkthrough. Any major damages found after your move-out walkthrough will be applied to your move-in fee. Depending on how much the damages are when you move out, you might be charged more. Below is what you can be charged for when you move out:

  • Extra cleaning to kitchen
  • Carpet stains
  • Broken shades or blinds
  • Damages to walls


Have any other questions about moving in Chicago? Let us know in the comments below!

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