How to Find Your Ideal Apartment Anywhere in the World

Finding an apartment can be both challenging and exciting. While some people seem to have all the luck, finding a great place to live isn’t just about being lucky.

Ayca Turan
8 min readJun 30, 2024
super successful perfect tenant me, 2020

It’s about having a strategy, being prepared, and knowing what you want. This guide will help you navigate the process of finding an apartment, sharing practical tips and personal experiences to make your search successful.

Leveraging Your Network

Finding an apartment can feel overwhelming, first of all, one of the most effective strategies is to start by leveraging your network. Friends, family, and colleagues can be valuable resources in your search. They may know of available rentals or have connections that can help you find the right place.

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The Power of Word of Mouth
When you start looking for an apartment, make sure to let people in your network know. Mention your search casually in conversations or through social media (Facebook groups are still a thing). The key is to communicate your needs clearly without coming across as desperate.

Explain why you’re looking for a specific type of apartment and how it fits your current situation. For example, you might say, “I’m looking for a new apartment with good transport links. If you hear of anything, let me know!”

Being Respectful and Realistic
It’s important to approach your network respectfully, understanding that they are not obligated to help. Be clear about your needs, also be realistic.

Story Time: How I Moved Out of the Dorm?

I was looking for an apartment because I decided that I didn’t want to live in a dormitory anymore and wanted to have my own space and better position than I had. At that time, I couldn’t afford a deposit and the costs associated with moving out, getting new furniture, and setting up a new place. So, I was looking for a solution within the city.

me and the view from my room, 2017

When I mentioned my search for an apartment to a friend during a casual chat at a university club. He told me that he had bought an apartment and was leaving his current room. Because of this connection, I was able to move into his room with minimal hassle. Another friend helped me move my stuff from the dorm to this apartment.

One of the most memorable aspects of my new apartment was the view from my window. This view of trees in Istanbul was super rare and beautiful. Although it was a cemetery, the serenity and abundance of trees made it a unique and peaceful sight.

Actionable Tips:

  • Use social media to spread the word about your apartment search
  • Be specific about your needs and flexible about your wants
  • Approach your network with gratitude and respect

Defining Your Needs

Before starting your apartment search, it’s crucial to understand what you need versus what you want. Defining your needs clearly will help streamline your search and avoid unnecessary frustrations.

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Asking the Right Questions
Start by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • How many bedrooms do you need?
  • Do you need a large kitchen, or is a small one sufficient?
  • Is being close to public transport important to you?
  • Do you need a pet-friendly apartment?
  • What’s your budget, and how flexible is it?

Prioritizing Your Needs
Once you have your list, it’s time to prioritize. Understand that in a competitive market, you may need to compromise on some aspects. For instance, if having easy access to public transport is more important than having a large kitchen, be prepared to make that trade-off.

Story Time: Living Just Across the University

After living an hour and a half away from my university, which involved taking metro line and a shuttle, the long commute became too challenging. The constant traffic jams and the stress of the long journey were taking a toll on me, and my current shared apartment wasn’t ideal either.

me in my first apartment, 2018

Determined to find a better living situation, I began searching for an apartment closer to the university. I spent hours on various websites, and one day, I stumbled upon a listing for a reasonably priced apartment just across the street from campus. I immediately called the real estate agent to arrange a viewing.

It was so close that one day, when I forgot my calculator for an exam, I was able to run home, grab it, and return in time.

This experience taught me the importance of prioritizing my needs.

my first apartment, my friends working together to clean and set up the space, 2018

When I moved into my first apartment, it had just been repaired and there was paint everywhere. My teammates from the sports team came over to help with everything: cleaning the paint off the floors, setting up the electricity, and moving furniture into the apartment. Their support was invaluable.

Reflecting on this today, I realize how blessed and grateful I am to have such true friends who helped me when I needed the most.

Gökay and me, visiting multiple the shops to buy a fridge and washing machine, 2018

Actionable Tips:

  • Make a list of your needs and wants
  • Prioritize your needs and be ready to compromise on less critical aspects
  • Keep your budget realistic and include additional costs like utilities and maintenance

First Contact: the Perfect Inquiry Message

Your initial message can make a significant difference in securing an apartment. It’s your first impression, it needs to be compelling and honest.

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Being Honest and Clear
Always be truthful about your goals and needs. Describe why you’re moving, what you’re looking for in an apartment, and what makes you a great tenant. Landlords appreciate transparency and reliability.

Standing Out
To stand out, personalize your message. Mention something specific about the apartment that appeals to you. Show genuine interest and enthusiasm. For example, “I love the large windows in the living room; natural light is very important to me.”

Actionable Tips:

  • Be honest about your situation and what you’re looking for
  • Personalize your message to show genuine interest
  • Highlight your reliability and how you’ll take care of the property

Viewing: Making a Good Impression

Just like with your first impression in a text or phone call, how you present yourself during an apartment viewing is extremely important.

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Preparing for the Viewing
Dress neatly and appropriately. This doesn’t mean you need to wear formal attire, looking clean and put-together shows respect. Pay attention to small details, like having clean shoes. It might seem minor, yet it can make a big difference.

Highlighting the Potential
During the viewing, talk about the potential you see in the apartment. For example if the kitchen needs minor repairs, mention how you’re willing to handle it or how you can see the apartment becoming a cozy home with a bit of cleaning. Give trust that you will take good care of the apartment (of course, do what you promise).

Story Time: My İstanbul Studio

During the viewing of my studio in Istanbul, the apartment wasn’t in the best shape. However, I saw its potential. I talked to the landlord about how painting the walls and a deep clean could transform the space. The landlord appreciated my vision and willingness to invest effort.

my cozy studio in Istanbul, transformed with personal touches that made the space inviting and comfortable

As you can see from the pictures above, I made it cozy and enjoyed my time here. Taking care of the apartment always pays off in making it feel like home.

If you’re ever in Istanbul and need a place to crash, you’re in luck! My cozy studio is open for you.

Actionable Tips:

  • Dress neatly and pay attention to small details like clean shoes
  • Be positive and talk about the apartment’s potential
  • Show respect and genuine interest in the property

Negotiating and Securing the Deal

Once you find the right apartment, negotiating terms and securing the deal is the final step. This process requires clear communication and confidence.

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Negotiating Rent and Terms
Don’t be afraid to negotiate rent. Approach the conversation respectfully and explain your reasoning. For instance, if you believe the rent is a bit above your budget, explain your situation and provide transparency about your intentions.

Building a Good Relationship
A good relationship with your landlord can make a significant difference. Be courteous, reliable, and transparent. Think from the landlord’s perspective: why would you give your apartment to someone you don’t trust?

Actionable Tips:

  • Be prepared to negotiate and provide evidence to support your requests
  • Build a good relationship with your landlord through clear communication and reliability
  • Aim for a win-win situation where both parties benefit

Handling Rejections and Continuing the Search

Rejections are a natural part of the apartment search process. They can be discouraging, it’s important to stay positive and keep moving forward.

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Learning from Rejections
Rejections are opportunities to learn. Reflect on what might have gone wrong and how you can improve your approach. Was your inquiry message too generic? Did you fail to highlight your strengths during the viewing?

Staying Positive
Remember, the right apartment is out there. Rejections are just stepping stones to finding a place that truly fits your needs. Keep refining your strategy and stay patient.

Actionable Tips:

  • Reflect on rejections and learn from them
  • Stay positive and keep refining your approach
  • Be patient and persistent in your search
don’t forget to enjoy your time in every phase of your situation

Each step of the process is an opportunity to learn and improve. Stay positive, be patient, and soon you’ll find the perfect place to call home.

cheerful photo of me wearing my friend’s hat and glasses, taken in her new shitty house

We took this picture in my friend’s new house, where she had just moved in with her friends. Unfortunately, there was a huge problem: the sewage pipe was broken, and there was sewage all over the kitchen.

You will be fine.

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Ayca Turan

Creative technologist | XR design | AI Workflows | 🗺🪞 ayca.tech