There is no denying that Houston is huge, with more than 6 million people in the metro area. Looking for apartments in Houston can be daunting for those moving here – or folks just moving across town. The city also has earned a positive reputation as a top city for new college grads based on cost of living, availability of rental properties, annual wages, and unemployment rate. No wonder the 25–29 age group is the most populous here!
So what is the best way to find apartments? Nationally recognized apartment marketing expert Kate Good (who lives locally) shares her take on how to find an apartment in Houston.
Kate Good of HomeMe
1. Consider your lifestyle and habits
Narrow your apartment search in Houston by considering your lifestyle and habits. There are more than 600 square miles of space, and many neighborhoods to choose from. Families, for example, might be interested in a top school district, so Good suggests researching schools first, and then the neighborhoods in the preferred district. Folks without kids might prefer a walkable area for shopping, dining, and nightlife, which provides another way to narrow the search. If you're downsizing, be sure to find a neighborhood with easy access to a self-storage facility so you'll never be short on space.
"Houston has traffic, and there is no getting around it," Good relates. "If you don't like the idea of spending two hours in your car each day for your commute, I suggest drawing a 5-mile circle around your workplace on a map and begin your search there."
2. Discover the nuances of different neighborhoods
Good says she learned of the hot neighborhoods in town by subscribing to Culture Map a few months before her move. Then she started to research what makes each neighborhood unique. VisitHouston.com has a great listing of 18 Houston neighborhoods to compare and contrast. Greater Houston Partnership offers a free relocation and newcomer guide, Here Is Houston, filled with a plethora of info around education, neighborhoods, jobs, health care, and more. A Houston Chronicle article lists the top areas where 20-somethings live in Houston.
Image credit: Camden
3. Use online sites and apps
There are a number of online sites to help with your Houston apartment search, including ApartmentGuide.com, Rent.com, and the HomeMe app. A handy feature at Rent.com is its Neighborhood Finder, which is an interactive map that shows areas of Houston that fit your specs, for example, "Where can I find a 2-bedroom apartment for $1,500 in Houston?" The map lists neighborhoods all over town within that price range and links to specific properties.
Good believes HomeMe is one of the best apps for finding cheap apartments in Houston, because it helps folks understand how far their money can go. Someone moving from the East Coast, for example, might think they can only afford a 1-bedroom apartment. They will be pleasantly surprised, she says, to learn that in the 4th largest city, you can actually get a 2-bedroom apartment in a Class A apartment community for the same price through HomeMe.
HomeMe also is the first and only mobile app that instantly pre-approves users to rent an apartment on demand. There's no question whether you're qualified to rent an apartment, and it enables you to view only apartments you are pre-approved to rent. Another huge aspect is it eliminates the traditional process of filling out rental applications at different properties. The free app helps users save money on costs associated with applications, background checks, and subscription fees.
HomeMe debuted in Houston before Texas cities Austin and Dallas because many of the major apartment management companies are based in Houston. It's also widely known as a strong apartment market, says Lindsey Holland, VP of Client Services at HomeMe. Not surprisingly, Good said, the apartment market closely follows the local job market.
"Job growth in Houston has been strong and continues to be positive, even with the short-term downtown in oil prices," she states. "College grads love Houston for these economics: a good paying job in an affordable city that has a great urban scene and all the sports teams."