How To Find an Apartment in Chicago and Its Suburbs

You’ve been researching Chicago, Illinois, and everything about it, and you’ve made a decision that you’d like to move there for one reason or another. The next steps you take are important, so what do you need to do to plan for a move?

Finding an apartment in Chicago is a good first step, and you need to start your search as early as possible. Since the area has gotten more popular, it can be hard to find great apartments in your preferred area of the city.

Connect with a Real Estate Professional

The absolute first thing that you need to do is connect with a real estate agent. Don’t just pick the first one that you find – there are some questions and ideas that you need to consider as you start looking at Chicago apartment finders.

You need to be sure that they know the market and that they are going to be able to answer any kind of questions that are going to come up during your search. Even though they aren’t helping you buy a home, they are still going to be your main point of contact as you figure out what you need from an apartment.

During the apartment hunting process, they are going to be the main person that you’re working through. They should know the Chicago neighborhoods well, understand the rental market, and have the resources you need to help you find the best apartment building in Chicago for your purposes.

They should also be ready to give you apartment listings and other info that you may need. Some apartments may not keep their listings up to date online, or your realtor may be able to hear about an opening before it’s officially listed on real estate websites like PadMapper or Craigslist, which could give you an in on a hard-to-get apartment building.

Know Your Budget

Another essential component of the pre-shopping process is knowing just how much you want to spend on an apartment in the first place. Budgeting for your perfect apartment’s monthly rent will allow you to stay ahead of potential issues.

As you put together a housing budget, be sure to consider the utilities that you may need to pay for as well. While the cost of utilities is lower in Chicago than in other large cities, you are still going to need to make sure that you include those numbers. Also, be sure you have money for a security deposit.

After you’ve found an agent and put a budget in place, you’re finally at the point where you can start digging into the meat and potatoes of what it is that you need to look for in an apartment.

Look Into Different Neighborhoods

As you search for apartments, be certain that you look into neighborhoods to determine where you’d like to live. The City of Chicago is remarkably diverse, and the neighborhoods share that diversity. This provides a wide array of opportunities, from the lakefront beaches of Lake Michigan to the suburbs of Chi-Town.

Some of the most popular neighborhoods for upscale or luxury apartments include River North, the South Loop, the West Loop, Lakeview, Logan Square, Lincoln Park, and, of course, the Gold Coast. These neighborhoods also have a variety of places to go for shopping, restaurants, and more.

Be sure that you look for options that allow you to get to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) routes without too many issues. This will make getting around the city a lot easier and could end up saving a lot of money on public transportation costs.

What Does Your Apartment Need?

Everyone has their preferences, so keeping those in mind while you search is going to give you the best opportunity to find what you want from a great apartment. Penthouses and other high-end apartments will be on the more expensive end but, as previously mentioned, it’s not going to be as expensive as if you moved to New York City.

Always prioritize what amenities you would like at your new apartment. Knowing what you need and what you want can be helpful as you seek out what is most essential for you and your situation. Write down a list of everything that you need and what you don’t want to pay extra for, and you’ll likely find something that fits within your price range and your wants.

What amenities could you choose from? Maybe you want a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a concierge, and/or ceiling windows. Or maybe you want to be sure that you have that 3-bedroom apartment with a full city view, right on Michigan Avenue? If you have pets, you want to be sure that they’re allowed.

List everything, even if it seems inconsequential to you. Even if it’s the smallest thing – like lighting – you want to be sure that you know your preferences. If you don’t take the time to make those lists, you’re more likely to find something that annoys you about your apartment choice later on.

Floor Plans

Do you have a floor plan that you’d prefer? Are you looking for an open floor plan, where there aren’t a lot of doors and you’re able to see the kitchen from the living room? Or do you want something a little more closed, where you can get more privacy and be able to close things off as necessary?

Floor plans for luxury apartments are going to vary, and in Chicago, they come in all styles and sizes. From basic studio apartments up to 2-bedroom apartments with or without living rooms/dens, you’re going to have a lot of choices.

This is also a want vs. need scenario, however. Maybe you only need a one-bedroom apartment, but you want a two-bedroom option so that you can have a guest room or an office area. The apartment of your dreams will likely have specific requirements in terms of how you want everything laid out.

A good floor plan is going to make sense for your family structure and how you do things. For example, if you and your partner are getting ready in the morning, you may want to have 2 bathrooms in the house so that you aren’t stepping over each other. If you like to entertain, you may want a larger living area. Things like that matter in your choice.

Searching Online for an Apartment

Once you do that, it’s time to start searching online. Even when working with a real estate professional, you want to see what types of apartments and amenities are available. Online apartment searches are much more advanced nowadays, and let you see a whole lot that you couldn’t in the past, especially with sites like Domu that are specifically made for the Chicago market.

As you look around on the web, be sure that you take a look at reviews and see what others have to say about the apartment buildings that you’re considering. This can show you a lot about what it is that you need to know and whether or not you’re going to like living there.

Visiting Potential Apartment Options

Nowadays, many luxury apartments do their best to try and use their online presence so that you can see everything you need to see about an apartment without going there. They know that their audience is often coming from different cities than Chicago, and they want potential renters to know what they’re getting without having to travel.

That being said if at all possible it’s best to visit a potential apartment before you sign a contract. It’ll help to solidify whether or not the place is right for you, and it will be that much easier for you to ask questions and see everything in person. If not possible, schedule a virtual tour with the apartment owner or management company.

What's Next?

After you figure out which Chicago apartment is best for you, it’s time to sign the contract! Then, you want to contact the moving company and get the ball rolling so that you can get what you need for your move.

Finding the right contemporary apartment in a new high-rise or a loft-style unit in a renovated industrial building in the Windy City is, for sure, going to take some effort on your part. But, if you’re ready to live the good life, then find a qualified realtor that you enjoy working with and spend time researching Chicago’s neighborhoods. The right apartment is out there waiting for you.