Please sir, I want somewhere to live.
March 28, 2010 7:45 AM   Subscribe

ApartmentHuntingFilter: How do I find an apartment when not currently employed?

Our lease is ending May 31, but we know we'll still be located in the Philadelphia area. She's interviewing for one- and two-year positions in Center City, and I am going to be taking classes at one of three possible schools in the city as well. Thus, it seems like we ought to be looking for places right now. The problem is that as of this moment, we have nothing to use as a proof of income: she doesn't have any job offers yet (and might not for a few more weeks), and I my schools have late application cycles, so I won't have financial aid / loan documentation in hand until this summer. She has fall-back plans if none of those jobs pan out, so we will certainly be able to afford an apartment either way, but I doubt many landlords will look at it that way. It seems like the answer is simply to wait until we have a job offer lined up, but I'm picturing a scenario where we only have 2-3 weeks to apply, be accepted at an apartment, and organize a move, and I just don't know if that's enough time.

As a secondary question, does anyone know of any good areas (or specific buildings) with 1BR apartments in the $750-900 range that are within walking distance from any of the SEPTA regional rails? We're really only familiar with places along the Main Line from City Ave to the Blue Route, and prices are obviously a bit higher than what we'd like to pay. Note that she's not really a fan of living in the city proper, so we're limited to the suburbs (or areas like Mount Airy that don't seem like the city, and have good regional rail access).
posted by DeucesHigh to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've lived in three apartments in Philadelphia and have never been asked to show any proof of income. As long as I was able to pay the security deposit and a couple of months rent when I signed the lease, nobody seemed to care about my income. I suspect that something different would have happened if I tried to rent from a large management company, but individuals who own and rent out apartments in Center City and West Philly never seemed to care too much.

If a landlord wants to see proof of income and you don't have any, you could always get somebody to cosign the lease. I think this makes them responsible for paying your rent, but if there's no risk of you missing a payment, a relative might be willing to do this for you.
posted by eisenkr at 7:55 AM on March 28, 2010

Do you have good credit? Having a copy of your credit report (and/or bank statements if you have savings) may help.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:20 AM on March 28, 2010

I don't know about Philadelphia, but I've gotten a lot of apartments (In NYC, Connecticut, and the Midwest) while not employed. In my experience you just have to be able to pay first last & security, and you need to find a nice understanding landlord. Small buildings in "less desirable" areas and houses converted to apartments seem to be easier to get into than large apartment buildings. Also, as eisenkr said above, if your parents or someone else who has proof of income or who owns property can co-sign, that works too. (It's sort of embarassing, but it works.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:28 AM on March 28, 2010

You can wait until the last week of April/first week of May before looking. Remember that many people vacate with only a month's notice.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:39 AM on March 28, 2010

Can you go to a month-to-month basis with your current apartment until things are more settled in terms of income? That's pretty much what I've done every time I've rented, sometimes going a couple years beyond the end of the lease before moving. Sometimes the landlord increased the rent, but we also brought up the point that as long as we're there, they don't have to spend time and money to prepare the place for the next renter, and there is no risk of the place sitting empty while we were there. Sometimes that worked to keep our rent low, sometimes not.
posted by Doohickie at 11:08 AM on March 28, 2010

If you have a chunk of money in savings, that may help as a substitute for a pay stub.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:15 AM on March 28, 2010

I live in philly. I didn't have to show proof of anything to rent my current place, but I am living in a house with roommates. I live in West Philly and think you should look there. It's convenient to public transportation, not far from Center City but cheaper, and has beautiful surroundings (houses and parks). South Philly is also cheaper than center city, but very close. Another area you could look into is Fishtown. All of these neighborhoods are popular among middle-class, artsy-intellectual young people who want to live in the city but don't have a ton of money. They are relatively safe, yet still affordable.
posted by bearette at 11:55 AM on March 28, 2010

oh, and let me put in a plug for Mt. Airy, where I grew up. It's further from center city, but is a beautiful diverse neighborhood with plenty of trees. And there are a lot of regional rail lines there.
posted by bearette at 11:58 AM on March 28, 2010

Response by poster: Hey, just thought I'd follow up on the thread. We just signed a lease on a great apartment in Mt. Airy, a short walk from the R7 and R8.

It turned out that all the landlord needed was a reference from my current apartment manager, and first/last/deposit... no credit check, proof of income, bank statements, or co-signer needed! I suppose we were needlessly worrying :)

Thanks for the help, everyone!
posted by DeucesHigh at 8:57 AM on April 18, 2010

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