Do small towns typically not list rentals online? Or am I out of luck.
October 8, 2013 3:46 AM   Subscribe

I will be moving to Douglas, Arizona from across the country for work. It is a small city of 14,000 people. I want to rent a house, but (at least online) there appears to be very few rental options. Zillows and Trulia have only three rental listings for the whole city. Three rental listings for 14k people seems way too low to me, which makes me wonder if people there typically just don't advertise their rental properties on those sites. Am I right?
posted by Spurious to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, small (and medium) size towns usually don't list rentals anywhere - you have to drive through town looking for "for rent" signs. Its terribly inefficient. Sometimes the local paper will have classified listings for rentals which is a little better.

If it was me, I'd plan to spend at least a few weeks in an extended stay hotel. If one is available.
posted by cessair at 3:53 AM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @cessair: Thanks for the tip. Is this something a real estate agent could help me with, or are they only for buying houses.
posted by Spurious at 3:56 AM on October 8, 2013

Try Craigslist.

You probably won't be able to make the arrangements until you get to Douglas.

Look for bulletin boards and yard signs once you get to town, while this might not be what you are used to, landlords that find tenants easily aren't motivated to find new advertising methods.

Look for a real estate agent who does rental management, they will have a list of available rentals. This doesn't work like NYC style apartment finding, basically they are paid by the property owner to be the landlord, and you would deal with them as a landlord.
posted by yohko at 4:01 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some real estate agents do deal in rentals.
posted by COD at 4:41 AM on October 8, 2013

Real estate agents could certainly help. I live in a smaller town and the ads in the paper weren't working for the empty units above me. Landlord engaged a rental agency and agents came through with people and had them filled pretty quick.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:44 AM on October 8, 2013

I live in a town of 90K and we have very few listings on Zillow and Trulia. I think most people don't use those most places, not just in small towns.

I would call the company/location you'll be working for and ask someone there (HR?) how people typically find rentals, and what they would suggest. They will know the local practices, or know someone who does.
posted by pie ninja at 5:15 AM on October 8, 2013

Definitely contact a local realtor. For example: here are a few rentals.
posted by TedW at 5:27 AM on October 8, 2013

I went on Trulia and it appears to have more than 3 rentals - 11 entries for 10 different properties. Were you applying specific criteria when you searched, other than Douglas?
posted by MuffinMan at 5:33 AM on October 8, 2013

Can you ask someone such as an HR person or your new boss about recommending a RE agent to help you?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:35 AM on October 8, 2013

Here is how it works in my small town - ask around at work or church or whereever you are making your connections. Coffee shop or convenice store. There are a few people that have lots of rentals and if you start calling one, they will refer you on to the next one if they don 't have anything. Most people here manage their own properties and as with your new town, very rarely do they have to adverstise anywhere because of demand. It is mostly word of mouth.

next option - local paper.
posted by domino at 6:02 AM on October 8, 2013

This is the local paper, but unfortunately there seems to be something wrong with their Classifieds page. Perhaps they'll fix the glitch and you'll be able to see the ads?
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:13 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Many realtors are also landlords -- they snap up excellent deals when they find them and rent them out as investments. So, you could definitely call a realtor's office and explain the situation. Someone might have a rental available, or know someone who does.

You could also call local property management companies, or check out their web sites. Sometimes they'll just put their current rentals up on their own site.

Lastly, I find that people in smaller towns still love their small-town newspapers. Have you picked up one of the local papers? Check out the classifieds in back! You may even put an ad in yourself indicated that you are looking for a place -- you would probably get some responses.
posted by Ostara at 6:15 AM on October 8, 2013

I live in a smaller town and was looking for a rental about five years ago. I wound up finding one by word of mouth. The other ways I found places were: Craigslist (or other online places like Front Porch Forum if there is one or a local facebook group), the town newspaper classifieds, bulletin boards at the local schools/libraries/coffee shops. Our real estate people often know places for rent but do not get involved in the rentals directly.
posted by jessamyn at 6:46 AM on October 8, 2013

I lived in a small town for a few years and found my first place through my employer's HR reference, and the second place by word of mouth. You should check if there's a community list serve/message board of some kind, as well as a local real estate site--my town didn't use Trulia or Craigslist, but instead there was a flourishing [TownName] site that got a lot of traffic.
posted by TwoStride at 8:22 AM on October 8, 2013

Rancho La Perilla is an apartment complex in Douglas.

Also Bisbee is about 30 minutes away, and that might be another option for housing.

While it's a 50 mile commute, Ft. Huachuca is in Sierra Vista and there are TONS of housing opportunities there.

Sierra Vista will have much more of a social life, and jobs for SOs and other family members.

My parents lived in Sierra Vista about 20 years ago and the Swamp Cooler was still a thing.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:13 AM on October 8, 2013

Google says Douglas has a print newspaper and although I see the front page is edited very poorly and the online classifieds search is utterly broken maybe you can subscribe or get yourself a recent copy? When I was advertising a rental a few years ago, I was shocked that most of the good contacts still came from an ad in the paper. This might be a small-town thing...?
posted by fritley at 1:59 PM on October 8, 2013 lists 12 homes for rent.
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:04 PM on October 8, 2013

« Older Help me find the name of this poem!   |   Dealing With Strangers (Other Parents and Kids) As... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.