Finding just the right apartment in a metropolis the size of Houston is a formidable task, especially for newcomers. Unlike smaller cities, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re a recent arrival in the market for a large or luxury complex, you might want to consider hiring an apartment locator. (Almost all will cost you nothing—they take commissions from your future landlord.)

If you’ve found Craigslist a painful and perennial source of frustration, you may want to give the site another try. The rental classifieds have made a comeback, with today’s version beating the pants off the cluttered, scam- and spam-ridden Craigslist of a few years back. These days, listings offer intuitive, map-based searches and easier-to-access prices and pictures.

“Now you can put up pictures and so much information … you get way fewer calls than in the old days, and everyone who calls is very serious,” says Cite editor (and occasional Houstonia contributor) Raj Mankad, who owns several rental units. “You can also keep experimenting with the listing until you figure out the market rate.” 

Though better known for its listings of homes for sale, HAR.com has a similar map-based apartment-search feature in which you supply your criteria (price, bedrooms, neighborhood, etc.) and listings pop up for rentals around town. 

Recent apartment-hunters I spoke to touted their personal methods, ranging from high-tech to old-school. There are apps aplenty: HAR offers an iPhone/iPad app, while Apartment-finder.com, ForRent.com, and Apartmentguide.com apps support both Apple and Android devices. And then there’s good old-fashioned pounding the pavement, which can still be effective in areas like Montrose and Eastwood. This admittedly haphazard approach is the favored method of those in search of more unusual properties (like garage apartments) and the personal touch.

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