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Looking for a rental to move across the country

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  • Looking for a rental to move across the country

    Our family will be moving across the country after residency. My husband is an oral surgeon starting a new job July 2021. We would love to take time to catch up on our finances before buying a home and love the idea of renting since we don't know the area well. To those of you who have done this before, how did you go about finding a good rental long distance? Any tips I'm not considering? Of course add COVID and the fact that we have two under two and a dog. (And yes I know it's early to be asking this question but we're excited!)

  • #2
    Start looking at properties online (Zillow, Redfin, or google rental management companies in the area and search their website for listings), then when it gets to about 2-3 months away fly one person out to scope out properties and get something lined up. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable just going by online pictures. When we bought our first house in residency (mistake before finding WCI), I was shocked how some of the houses that looked nice on the outside were dumps on the inside or in bad neighborhoods, which you can’t always deduce from pictures.

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    • #3
      •First step is to educate yourself about neighborhoods. Not necessarily the legal entities, but the local. A great place will get ruled out due to commute, safety, amenities etc. Internet works.
      •Second step is to find the types of housing available in the area. Caution, look for everything, not just available. The problem with rentals is availability isn’t known until about 60 days before move in.
      • Third step, seek local advice. The employer and people know the area. Know the neighborhoods and specific properties allows the person giving an opinion/recommendation to picture the type of rental you are looking for. Additional alternatives pop up.
      • Trim your list to about 5 potentials. Look at their websites and contact in advance. Schedule all five for showings and one person (if not both), make a trip. Contact the properties directly is possible. Ask about specials and availability before you pick the trip date. Set your timing on the local market. One month zero rent expirations, next month 20. You might have to rent a month early.
      •Google maps you can scout the target neighborhoods and immediate surroundings. The on site visit is to confirm what you have seen online.
      • The majority of the listings on Zillow, Redfin, Trulia are placed by agents and out of date. Good for browsing, but better information directly from the property.
      • Leave your contact info at a place you really like but that doesn’t have current vacancies. You might get a call about a new opening.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MaxPower View Post
        Start looking at properties online (Zillow, Redfin, or google rental management companies in the area and search their website for listings), then when it gets to about 2-3 months away fly one person out to scope out properties and get something lined up. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable just going by online pictures. When we bought our first house in residency (mistake before finding WCI), I was shocked how some of the houses that looked nice on the outside were dumps on the inside or in bad neighborhoods, which you can’t always deduce from pictures.
        agree with all this.

        I started saving properties on Trulia and Zillow probably 6 months ahead of time. My plan was to start asking about rental options if a favorite sat for too long. Some were interested but either wanted too much or couldn't wait til June. We got super lucky that a listing showed up via Trulia email. It's blocks away from my work, great area, and fair rental price for the area.

        We had lived in the town before so our knowledge was fairly up to date. If you know anyone from the area at all, ask them questions or have them drive by properties. If not, ask the future employer people. They'll shoot you straight. I think sending someone out to look is essential

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        • #5
          Have you ever been to the area, so you at least have a general idea of what part of town you'd like to be in? We also moved across country and rented - we used Zillow and Craisglist to try to find something to rent. We had considered buying and had taken a trip to do some house hunting and make sure we liked the area while he was still in contract negotiations - during that trip we saw some houses in a newer neighborhood. A few weeks later, we saw a house in the same neighborhood had been put up for rent, so we rented it sight unseen, except for photos. We at least had a reasonable idea of what to expect having seen other houses in the area and knowing the location. It was great, zero regrets. The nice thing about renting a newer place was that it wasn't falling apart and was really quite nice. I think we found ours in April or May and our lease started July 1, right when we rolled into town.

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          • #6
            “. I think sending someone out to look is essential”
            You can ask someone to look. Preference on size of rooms is difficult. One example is bedroom furniture. Queen size, triple dresser, two night stands and a chest of drawers. What goes on which wall or in the closet and what about a TV?
            Easier to say it’s a nice size room, but the usable wall space due to closet, bathroom and bedroom doors along with traffic pattern is tough for someone to choose for you. People can scout for you, but suggest one of the residents makes the final eyes on decision. You may “detest” the cabinet space or some other feature. Best if both go, but you can make do with one.

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            • #7
              Where are you moving to? Maybe some folks can give more insight into that area. I think the rental market can vary by location. Some places rentals get snatched up quick, you have to be there person, etc. Other places there's a glut of rentals and you could probably easily do it remotely, short term lease, etc.

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              • #8
                Consider school district/preschool reviews, proximity to family support and your spouse's place of employment, your potential employment options/arrangement, pet friendliness obviously, COLA including state income taxes if close to a border, county property and sales tax rates, suitability for you as a spouse especially if you're not working, local crime rates, age/condition of property to consider maintenance hassles, large vs. small gated community versus freestanding house vs. high rise condo, large lot vs. easy/no lawn maintenance, walk score, accessibility to parks and bike paths, pool for the kids?, if rural proximity to consumer staples (food/restaurants, malls, Walmart, etc) and internet accessibility, desired number of bedrooms/bathrooms/parking adequacy, rental contract terms and restrictiveness, comps.

                Agree that online real estate sites help, but I thought you said in another thread that you are moving close to family so they may want to evaluate a narrowed list for you unless you go yourself to evaluate - online listings always depict the highlights of the property and don't show/describe the negatives. I wouldn't sign a rental contract site unseen.

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