Whether you’re upgrading from your dorm to your first apartment, moving in with friends, or striking out on your own, finding the best time of year to rent can be tricky. The truth is, there’s no one “best time” to start your apartment hunt. It all depends on your priorities. If you want to save money or have a broader range of apartments to choose from, you might prefer to start your search at a specific time of year.

What time of year should you start your apartment search?

Ultimately, the best time for your apartment search may be dictated by your current living situation, your occupation or school semester, and whether you value options or rental rates more. If you can wait until the off-season in your city to begin your search, then you are in luck! If not, you might have to be more aggressive when apartment hunting.

Image of renters with boxing boxes outside their car.

You’ll find more apartment options during the summer

More Americans move in this peak season between May and September than any other time of year, for various reasons. In busy college towns and major cities, such as New York, Boston, or San Francisco, college students tend to have seasonal leases that expire at the end of the school year, typically in May or June. Additionally, parents of students may time their moves to better accommodate their child’s schedule, and will vacate their current apartment while everyone is out of school. All of this movement will leave a ton of available options for you to consider.

However, as it is the most popular time of year to move, demand for an apartment or rental unit increases, and does the price of rent. According to real-estate website RentalHop, rental rates in the summer months are at yearly highs, between 2% to 7% higher than in the winter. That might not seem like a ton, but in a city like Los Angeles that already has sky high prices, a few percent can mean several hundred dollars difference on the final bill.

You’ll save more money if you move in the winter

Far fewer renters are apartment hunting in the winter months between December and March. This means less competition when exploring the rental market and allows a renter an easier time to negotiate a lower price. Cities with colder winters, like Chicago or Philadelphia, see the greatest decrease in rent prices during those times, so if you are looking in cities with colder winters the optimal time to start your apartment search is when the weather starts to turn.

Image of renters walking with their family in their new neighborhood in winter.

How should I communicate with a broker or property manager?

Not every transaction needs to be negotiated face-to-face or over the phone between a renter and broker. While these options allow for more fleshed out conversations and can be more personable, they may not be a property manager’s preferred method of communication. You can reach out to a broker or property manager to ask about a rental unit in the following ways:

  • Texting or sending an email might be a more optimal choice than a phone conversation to ask a brief question, schedule a tour, or pass along a new idea. 

  • An additional benefit of text or email is they allow you to keep written documentation to refer back to, should any agreed upon condition not be met. 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask clarification questions so that you are in the best position to secure the perfect apartment.

Regardless of how you communicate with them, make sure you are well-informed on the rental market. Once you are familiar with the rental trends in the city you want to live in, keep a keen eye on the rental market. You never know exactly when a great apartment might become available!

Using Rhino will allow you to jump on any opportunity you come across by saving you money on your security deposit and letting you spend more on your new apartment. Learn more about Rhino by asking your future landlord or property manager if they offer Rhino or get a quote today.

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KT Heins-Nagamoto

KT Heins-Nagamoto is a senior brand writer at Rhino. They advocate for security deposit alternatives and renter rights in everything they write.