Tips helping child get an apartment

My D16 is starting grad school out of state in the fall and needs to find an apartment. She and her roommate had planned to head to the new city and do a search for a week. But something came up so now I need to help. Any tips/insight on how this went for you if you helped your child get an apartment? I feeling a bit anxious on how to proceed and D is even more so. Searches online (Zillow etc) and via property management companies suggests that there are a number of openings each week in their max price range.

Here’s plan so far:

  • Head to city for a week to search and put in the applications/payment
  • I have a list of property management companies and planning to set up viewings with them.

Taking a week off and spending a week in the new city is pricey but I don’t see how D will be able to land a place remotely. Neither of us have the umph to deal with the Craigslist scammers.

Anyhow, any insights, tips or just sharing your or your kid’s experience will be helpful and I think help me feel less exhausted by the thought of this.

1 Like

You will likely get better responses if you share the city. For example, there was just a great thread on finding a rental in NYC, which, like many cities, has city specific websites, rental realtors, etc. to help newcomers find a place to live.

1 Like

Oops! Forgot to put that in there. Boise, Idaho.


I never got help from a parent for this. I did it on my own. But as a person who rented from age 19-35, and as a landlord, here’s some advice.

Impress upon her that her relationship with her landlord is extremely important, because if she has a good rental record, she will be able to rent better places, more cheaply, because landlords will see her as a desirable tenant.

I always rented from small-time landlords, preferably half a duplex with the LL living next door. Or mother-in-law units. Or third floor units of big old Victorians, with the LL occupying first and second floor. You cannot find this in Manhattan, of course, but in some other places it’s possible. They can get a lot of information if they contact the department at the University. In fact, there may be graduating students who will pass their info on to their own landlords whom they are leaving.

If they have to rent from large landlords, you will likely have to co-sign the lease and undergo a credit check, yourself.


We needed to rent an apartment for our D20 in Boston this year, with no opportunity to go visit. She first started looking at zillow and but found there were a ton of dead ends there (listings no longer available). I let her fumble for a few days, and then contacted a rental broker, told him her requirements and budget, as well as the areas that were desirable and he did the rest. He did a number of video tours for her and she ended up picking one that worked out great. It helped that I was familiar with the city (we lived there some years back) and could guide her a bit on neighborhood, proximity to things, accessibility to public transportation…but for the most part, it was a leap of faith.

Edited to add: She was initially resistant to the idea of a broker because she didn’t want to pay a fee (typically the equivalent of one month of rent, at least in red-hot Boston). The market has changed significantly (due to covid) and the fee was waived, but honestly, it would have been worth it to pay it at that point, given our time crunch and travel limitations.


Does your kid know anyone in the town they’re moving to? That can be a big help! Your kid could move in with them or at least stay with them until they find a place of their own. This probably won’t be the case, but just wanted to throw that out there…

Thanks! I didn’t think of using a rental broker. Cost of a trip out there will be at least one month’s rent so paying for a rental broker wouldn’t up the overall cost. She’s been looking at Zillow and but I suspect that a visit is going to be needed. Fortunately it is doable given the lack of any other travel happening this summer. She did do a visit to Boise earlier in the year when deciding on graduate programs.

Alas she (and parents) know no one there. I’d hoped that there would be some leads on the department student email list but she talked to a bunch of grad students and didn’t get any leads from them.

In a place like Boise you shouldn’t need a broker. My D rents in Reno, NV and she was able to find a place without a broker.


Our daughter is changing apartments next year, so we are reliving this process. Besides Zillow and, my daughter and her roommate are using the local Craigslist and Seattle student apartments seem to be dominated by a handful of property management companies. Good luck!

When one of my kids was heading to grad school, he was also going across the country for a summer program in a far away state. He looked online and connected with a rental agent there who set up four places for me to look at. I knew nothing about the areas at all…and did reach out online and a fabulous family there helped me understand different neighborhoods…and actually looked at the four places before I went down myself.

My kid had seen pics of all the places, and he needed a safe, convenient and quiet place to live.

I looked at four places and when I saw the one he rented, it was easy to decide.

I spent four days in the town…but really I was done with all my rental business after three days…so got an earlier flight home.

Second kid…lucky me had two friends who went apartment hunting to several complexes. They did FaceTime with me at each place while they were there, and after they left so they could tell me their honest impressions. They narrowed it down to two choices and we made the decision here. Everything else was done online. Never saw the place until move in day.

The grad school did have a listing of apartment complexes they suggested. That’s where we started.

Ah I see. My D found a great place on Craigslist, and the landlords are great! She pays cheap rent because they don’t really need the money, its just an investment property. She has a nice roommate!

Is using a rental broker common? I’ve only heard of people using them in NYC. When my D was looking she just contacted the leasing offices of apartment offices directly and she also used Craigslist…

If she were in Boise, she’d find her own place but doing it remotely is turning out to be hard. She and her roommate were going to do a visit and do the search together, but roommate’s work commitments have made that impossible. Thus, I find myself needing to help. Also with no rental record (was in undergrad housing), I’m expecting to need to co-sign.

Back in my graduate student days, there was a housing office at the university and local home owners would post their MILs and basement apartments. So finding a place was easy. But so far no one she has talked to has mentioned anything like that.

Thanks! I think process with your kid #1 will be about what I need to do. I’m not sure when to visit though. Right before she needs to move in or go earlier. Hmm, these are the sort of things I could ask a broker I suppose… Fortunately she already has neighborhoods picked out from her earlier visit.

My kid was moving to the new place in August. I went to lease a place in June. Smaller town.

Second kid was also starting in August. Lease was signed and deposits made in May. Larger metro area.

As an aside…when my one kid was renting in Boston, leases were signed in December or earlier for the following September.

I’m surprised that the school doesn’t have a listing for off campus housing. That and craigslist is how I landed all my places during grad school.

Be aware that some place will say “no students,” but they still may be ok with graduate students so don’t count them out.

1 Like

I went through this but it wasn’t OOS. Our daughter was 7 hours away from us, but she couldn’t use the university housing as she was assigned to another hospital = 4 hrs. away. She moved into an apartment that was closer to her hospital and I thought that I would need to cosign, but our daughter’s credit and her Hospital affiliation was used. We just moved her back home.

If she’s in grad school, I would think that her school would have a housing office link?
My son used ULoop at his school.

Anyway, my eldest daughter bought a condo and had a great real estate agent who recommended a number of things for her young, female clients.

  • Security (both for self and car) questions for amount of patrols. Door view holes.
  • Lighted Carport assigned parking (in Boise, otherwise both she and her roomie are scraping windows!)
  • Second floor apartment (yes, it’s killer on grocery lugging).
  • Corner unit preferable.
  • Can each person pay individually through an internet account.
  • Is cable service, trash, utilities included?
  • Deposits?
    That all I can spontaneously think of for now.

If she has neighborhoods already picked out, use and filter those out. Call the management companies of the complexes. They are quite used to do doing a face time, etc. with the prospective renters. Last June, I helped my daughter in the Raleigh area. She was starting her 4th year clinical program in Vet. school. She had to be within 10 minutes away for her on call hours. I narrowed down neighborhoods within that parameter, checked crime statistics and reviewed all the comments I could find about each complex. She contacted the 5 or so that she thought would be good. The rental agents for the property all walked around the complexes and the apartments while face timing her. It worked out very well.

Looks like a hot rental market, beware high pressure tactics. Also see Facebook Marketplace.

See this Univ Idaho resource Housing Options - University of Idaho Boise