How to find an apartment in New Orleans

Hunting for an apartment in New Orleans was harder than we thought. We’ve lived in aggressive apartment cities like New York, and we found NOLA in December 2012 to be on par with our NYC search experience.

image via harmony1.com

image via harmony1.com

More renters than affordable apartments = frantic rush for a place to live.

Be prepared to make a decision the day you see the apartment. If you wait, you may lose out. Do your research in advance so you’ll be able to make up your mind on the spot.

Every story is different, but this is how we found our New Orleans apartment:

• Searched Apartments.com, Rentals.com, Craigslist and http://realestate.nola.com/for-rent/. Got an idea what was out there and started emailing everyone.

Heather Welch is an agent with Keller Williams.

Heather Welch is an agent with Keller Williams.

• Got overwhelmed because we didn’t know the city and didn’t know what was close to work.

• A new coworker said he used real estate agent Heather Welch with
Keller Williams Realty Professionals: 985-710-1456 or heather@heatherwelch.com. We called her Saturday afternoon and she called us back an hour later.

• She put together a list of potential apartments based on what we wanted.

• We reviewed the pictures & listings and narrowed down the apartments.

• We plugged the addresses into NOPD’s Crime Map app and removed any listings with violent crimes (assault, rape, shootings, murder, etc.). We decided we were OK with DUIs and shoplifting. We also bookmarked the app so we could look up addresses on our phones while we were out looking at apartments.

Screenshot of New Orleans crime stats via http://www.crimemapping.com/map/la/neworleans

Screenshot of New Orleans crime stats via http://www.crimemapping.com/map/la/neworleans

• We plugged the addresses into FEMA’s flood maps to see the risk of flood. This 2009 PDF from NOLA.com is the best map we found to take with us on our smartphone.

• We got in the car and drove to the apartments, taking the long way to each. We narrowed down the list even more that way. We looked at the type of cars, the types of people, the mix of commercial/residential and found a neighborhood we’d be comfortable living in.

• We took pictures of every room in every apartment we visited to help us keep tabs of things and remember the apartment after we left. Pay particular attention to bathroom and kitchen pictures. We frequently referred to pictures to see if the stove was gas or electric or if the kitchen had a dishwasher.

Take pictures of every room in the apartment as you view it. It will help you compare places at the end of the day and decide which is the best fit for you. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Take pictures of every room in the apartment as you view it. It will help you compare places at the end of the day and decide which is the best fit for you. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

• We found an apartment that was the perfect fit for us after two hunting trips to NOLA.

• We filled out the application, paid for the credit check ($25) and made an offer.

• Monthly rent is negotiable for some apartments. The key is to not offend the owner by offering too little. For example, if the monthly rent is $1,500 and it has been on the market for a month, you could offer $1,400 or $1,450. However, if someone offers $1,500, the owner could choose them over you. The longer the apartment has been on the market, the more willing the owner is to negotiate.

• We got the apartment and signed the lease. Woohoo!

• The lease included a two-page checklist where we documented the state of the condo when we moved in. Use your phone or a digital camera to take pictures of EVERYTHING. It’s better to have extras later on so the owner will know the wall came with a big hole in it and you didn’t punch it.

Take pictures of all the flaws in the apartment before you move in. You don't want to be blamed for damage you didn't do. Photos are your proof when you move out. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Take pictures of all the flaws in the apartment before you move in. You don’t want to be blamed for damage you didn’t do. Photos are your proof when you move out. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

• Get a set of photos developed for the landlord and keep a set for yourself.

• Mail the checklist and the photos back to the landlord within 2 weeks of your move-in date.

• Make sure you have contact info for the property manager because something will come up as you move in.

• Enjoy your new home in New Orleans!

Other things you should know during your search for an New Orleans apartment:

• Most rental listings say pets aren’t allowed. Many landlords are flexible if you ask them.

• Make sure you find out where the residents park. Some places we looked at had four tenants sharing one driveway. Ah!

• Look for watermarks on houses and in yards. We heard from several people that streets flood when it rains and you’ll have to move your car if it is on the street. Look for signs of flooding and ask residents about their experience.

• Mardi Gras parades will change your life in New Orleans. Some people want to live on a route, and others don’t. Find out if your apartment is on a parade route.

• Latter & Blum is the big boy on the block with New Orleans rentals. We worked with Janet Summers out of the rental office on Maple Street. We used a real estate agent who led us to Latter & Blum. You could go straight to Latter & Blum, but you’ll only see its properties.

• The owners/landlords pay the real estate fees. It’s free for the renter to use a real estate agent.

Header image is of a house in the Irish Channel, a neighborhood in New Orleans. Photo by Carlie Kollath Wells.

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15 thoughts on “How to find an apartment in New Orleans

  1. CarlieKollathWells says:

    I got some feedback today that the prices we found were way out of whack with what is the reality in New Orleans. Not sure what to say other than we couldn’t find a safe, pet-friendly, 2BD apartment w/ AC for less than $1,200/month. Several of our friends had the same experience.

    And, since we had two weeks to find an apartment and we were doing it from another state, it limited our options.

    Anyone else agree?

    The numbers on this post from SoYouWanna.com aren’t in line with what we found last month:

    The first thing you have to do is decide how much are you willing (and able) to pay in monthly rent. Before you start searching your couch cushions for quarters, we have some good news for you: the cost of living in New Orleans is incredibly low. The average rental cost per person is about $400 a month, a sum which often gets you such token perks as hard-wood floors, high ceilings and rod-iron balconies. Living in New Orleans is an amazing bargain.
    A good way to find your upper limit for housing costs is to divide your monthly net income (after taxes) by three. If this figure seems unusually low, you have three options: 1) make more money, 2) consider living in a really cheap area, like the Bywater, or 3) save money on rent by finding a roommate.

    Full post:

    http://www.soyouwanna.com/soyouwanna-apartment-new-orleans-1676.html

    • NOLA_dee says:

      Welcome to NOLA, and glad to read your blog.

      Don’t know who wrote that SoYouWanna article, but their figures are borderline delusional. $600 for an apartment in the Quarter? Maybe they wrote that in 1978? I’m a NOLA native who just moved back after 15 years away in Dallas. The cost of living vs. average salaries in NOLA is one of the reasons (plus Katrina) that it took me so long to move back. (I finally bit the bullet 2 years ago because I love it and it’s home.) Everyone in TX assumed that it was cheaper to live in NOLA than Dallas — not true. LA has some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation. Rents are high here because you have lots of renters within a small area of land. Add to this the fact that after Katrina the homeowner’s and flood insurance rates skyrocketed (which gets passed to renters through rent), and property (if you want to buy) is more expensive, too. There’s no way I’ll be able to purchase a house like the house I had in Dallas for the same price here. If you want a nicer place and don’t want to live like a sophomore college student, and want to feel RELATIVELY safe walking from your driveway to your front door, $1000-$1200 for a two bedroom is pretty much the norm.

  2. @NOLA_dee Thanks for reading!

    We thought NOLA would be cheaper too. We looked at at least 30 apartments and houses online and in person. We had to make sacrifices if we wanted to live in a walkable area of the city. We get the convenience of the city, but we have no yard for a garden and we’re paying more monthly. But, I’m excited about vertical gardening on the fence.

    How did you start your search for a place to live?

  3. NOLA_dee says:

    Actually, I’m in Kenner right now, but I plan to move to the Carrollton or Mid-City/Bayou St. John area in a few months. And I’ll probably use all the resources that you used— realtor, Craigslist, etc., plus putting feelers out through my NOLA friends and family. I also have friends who had good luck just driving around and looking for “for rent” signs (hard to do, I know, if you’re moving from out of town). Thanks for the link to the crime-mapping app— I’m pretty familiar with the city and neighborhoods, but things can change drastically, safety-wise, from one street to another, so that will be handy.

    Sounds like you did well! Hope you’re enjoying settling in.

    • Thanks. I’m still in the transition period but the rest of the group has settled in AKA is living amidst stacks of boxes.

      We drove around too and looked at places. Problem was we didn’t know the area well so we didn’t know where the apartment was in relation to work/grocery store/gas/etc. We called a couple places that looked decent and the prices were skyhigh and/or they wouldn’t allow our cat.

      But, that seems like a good approach when you live somewhere already. It’s how we found our house in our old city.

      Keep us posted on your move. If you find other good resources, I’d love to add them to the post.

  4. Pingback: Good places to live in New Orleans | New in NOLA

  5. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new
    to me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  6. Just wanted to chime in for those who are looking for a place. You CAN find good deals in good locations. I’m renting a three bedroom in Uptown. It’s a beautiful house and I generally have always felt safe. We pay $900 (I have one roommate). For me, this was cheaper than what I had to pay in Tuscaloosa, Alabama when I was in college. Be diligent in your search. I found my place on padmapper.com and lucked out with a fantastic roommate. Allow yourself plenty of time. I began searching about 3-4 months before I planned to move to the city. Not too many things will pop up that far in advance, but you want to make sure you aren’t missing out on anything. Good luck to everyone and welcome to NOLA!

  7. I am actually in the midst of my housing search for a move to NOLA in Sept. I too have an awesome Realtor with Later & Blum that has been so helpful..thanks for some more tips because contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to find good housing for a reasonable price in NOLA..
    lynne

  8. Pingback: New in NOLA’s most popular newcomer advice for 2013 | New in NOLA

  9. Shawn Moore says:

    I’m living in Washington state right now 20 years old and I’m planning on moving to New Orleans within the next 6 months by myself and this post is helping me a lot so thank you guys . Any other tips would be much appreciated . I’ll check back every few days

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