When hunting for a rental apartment in a small town, make sure you leave your misconceptions or assumptions at the door. This is especially necessary if you have been living in a big city all of your life. Here are three popular misconceptions that people have about small towns, and how they can mess up your apartment hunting:
What You See Online Is What You Get
In major cities, most people use online resources to browse real estate listings while looking for a home. Online searches can provide thousands of listings that you can use when house hunting. Even if you don't actually pick a listed house or apartment from a site, browsing such listings gives you a feel for the current prices and trends in the city.
Unfortunately, that approach is bound to give you misleading results if your area of focus is a small town. Property owners in small towns don't have to list their properties online to rent them out. Since there might not be that many apartments to begin with, landlords can usually find tenants without listing their properties online.
As a renter, this means you may not have the luxury of hunting for an apartment to rent from the comfort of your keyboard. You may have to drive through the town looking for "For Rent" signs, ask residents for referrals, or browse the local newspapers. Alternatively, you can just use a real estate agent.
All Neighborhoods Are Safe
The general assumption is that small towns tend to be safer than big cities, at least as far as violent crimes are concerned. This is why people get surprised when studies reveal that big cities are actually safer. Even if a small town is rated as safe, however, it doesn't mean that all neighborhoods in a typical small town are safe. Making that mistake can easily land you in a crime-infested neighborhood. Watch out for telltale signs of unkempt neighborhoods such as overgrown yards, poor street lighting, and rundown buildings. You can also get crime statistics from the local government or police department.
The Popular Neighborhoods Are the Best
A typical small town may have one or two popular neighborhoods, but this doesn't mean that they are the best. This is because what makes a neighborhood popular in a small town may turn out to be just what makes it unsuitable for you. Consider an example of a small town with a university campus. Such a town may have a popular neighborhood where most of the people are students at the university. Unless you are also a student, you may not like living at that popular neighborhood.