Well, it’s all coming down. Another 10 days, and I can start looking in earnest for March 1st rentals in Victoria.
Holy choices-to-make, Batman!
Here’s what I know. I know roughly where I want to live. And while I’m working from home, I want to be less than 15 minutes’ walk to my local gym, which I’ve chosen downtown. A similar walk to great parks, shops, and the beach would also work. So, that narrows things down.
But finding apartments exactly where I want them, well, that’s the challenge. I’ve been researching the shit out of apartment management companies, neighbourhoods, different listing sources, and it really makes the head spin.
Dude, all the squinting to read neighbourhoods and trying to imagine where places are when I barely know the main street names, it’s killing me!
Now, with Google Street View, it makes plugging an apartment’s address in really worth your while, since you can do a 360-view look at the places around it.
That’s all a hell of a lot of work, though, even for a smart and determined cookie like myself.
So, enter Padmapper.com.
Sure, it’s not NEW, but it’s new to me and probably to anyone who hasn’t rented a new place in the last few years.
A reader turned me onto it yesterday, and, oh, lord, do I love this. You can set lots of parameters, and it’s in your interest to be more thorough. What kind of parameters?
- Set radius for a walking distance to X-location (work / gym / school, etc)
- Bedroom/bathroom count
- Terms of lease/rent
Blah, blah, blah. Use it all! More means less crap to search through for your shiny new home.
There’s a few apartment-listing sources it combs through, and you select the maximum age of the listing, and it’ll search, say, rent.com, craigslist.org, and more.
You plug your deets in, and boom-shaka-laka, your Google map fills with markers for every single available apartment, and you can click each marker and a pop-up dialogue shows you a photo of the place, where the source listing is, and all the basic details. You can “save to favourites” and all the standard modes of sharing via email and such apply.
And think about the awesomeness that Google Street View offers you — the chance to take a look at what the neighbourhood looks like around your home. Well, Padmapper.com also has the ability to click the “Walkscore” button, and if you’ve never tried Walkscore,* it gives you an idea of what’s in walking distance of your home and how convenient it is.
The only shortfall in Padmapper is that it doesn’t currently integrate with the Bedbug Registry, and if you’ve had any close calls, you’ll appreciate how much you’d like to know who’s had problems and how often.
As I’ll be working from home, I’m really keen to find the best location and a good hardwood floor space with balconies, maybe even a second bedroom for my office, if I can find the right mix at the right budget.
Looking for a place to live has always been a real challenge. With a tool like this, it seems the playing field’s getting a little more level for the savvy home-renter looking for the ideal place to cool their heels.
With a few minutes’ digging, I can find more viable listings for rentals that fit the budget, space, and location needs I have than I could find in hours, before.
And, let’s face it, in a 30-days-notice kind of world, you really do need a more efficient means of finding great places. Padmapper might just be a rental agency’s worst nightmare, because finding a new apartment just got a whole lot less intimidating.
*WALKSCORE: My present home is dubiously high on there, and they’re wrong, since most of the so-called restaurants are sushi joints and I don’t eat it, and the shops kind of suck, so don’t get too invested in Walkscore without knowing the hood well, just use it because you can.