Tips & Tricks to Renting an Apartment in Chicago

Spring in Chicago is peak rental season & it can be overwhelming navigating the market on your own. As a real estate broker, I don’t just represent sellers & buyers, I also help renters find their place in Chicago – for FREE. These are a few of my tips I share with my clients prior to them renting an apartment in Chicago.

When to Start

My advice is always to start your search at most 60 days prior to your ideal lease start date. Some over-achievers like to start a few months ahead of time, but unfortunately that is time wasted. It’s good to understand the market, but something online now won’t be available in a few months & the prices may increase/decrease depending on the time of year. Landlords are required by the state of Illinois to provide their tenants a renewal notice of at least 30 days prior to lease expiration & 90 days at the very most. Therefore, most landlords don’t know if the unit will be available until 60 days prior to lease start.

How to Determine Your Budget

Most landlords will follow a simple rule when qualifying their tenants, 3×1 rent to income ratio. Therefore if you net $6000 a month, your rent should be around $2000 a month. You should try not to exceed more than 30% of your monthly income on living expenses. This is a normal metric landlords use to qualify tenants, however there are exceptions to every rule & some landlords will over look this.

Additionally, be aware of your credit. If you have a less than desirable credit situation, be up front about it & see what options you have. Every apartment will require a credit & background check, so before you pay for them to run your credit understand where you are at & be upfront about it.

Choose Your Neighborhood

Chicago has 77 recognized neighborhoods, with numerous sub-neighborhoods in between. It can be a tough choice figuring out what neighborhood is right for you as each is so unique & have so much to offer. There are many things to consider, but the items below should be the most important.

  • Price
  • Proximity
  • Amenities
  • Lifestyle

This is a great article on some of Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods.

What Fees Should You Expect

When renting an apartment in Chicago renters often overlook are the fees associated with renting. Working with a broker is FREE, so that’s one fee you don’t need to stress over 🙂 Depending on the style of building, type of unit, area of the city, etc. fees vary. Below are a few fees you will want to be aware of when signing a lease:

  • Application Fee
  • First month’s rent: due at lease signing to secure the unit
  • Security Deposit or Non-refundable Move-In Fee: due at lease signing
  • Utility costs
  • Move Out Fee
  • Elevator Rental Deposit
  • Admin Fees
  • Renter’s Insurance
  • Lease Registration Fee
  • Pet Registration Fee
  • Pet Rent

Why You Should Use A Real Estate Broker

Finally, my biggest piece of advice is to use a Real Estate Broker. This is a free service to you as the landlords want us to bring them qualified tenants & while third party websites can be a great resource – they are not always reliable. Use a Broker who knows the market & understands the process, don’t waste your valuable time searching endlessly when you can have someone do the work for you. Broker’s have access to reliable, accurate, & available listings currently on the market.

If you do use third party websites, please be smart. Don’t meet strangers off Craigslist or send funds in advance of lease signing. Research the subject address & do your due diligence that the property is actually for rent, the lease is legally binding, & you are legally able to occupy the unit. Know what your rights are – Read up on Chicago Renter’s Rights.

If you have any questions about this information above or are interested in renting in Chicago reach out to me & I will make it easy for you!

Happy Renting!

What to do in Wrigleyville, Chicago | Kelseyshawchicago

As a previous Wrigleyville resident, take it from me: this is one of the most fun neighborhoods in Chicago. Steps from the Friendly Confines, you can’t beat this little pocket of Lake View. Wrigleyville is home to the second oldest stadium in baseball and beloved 2016 World Series championship team, The Chicago Cubs. A magnet for sports fans, young professionals, & families alike; this neighborhood is exceptionally attractive to those seeking vibrant nightlife with numerous bars along Clark, Addison, and Sheffield Avenues.

Must Visit:

  • Wrigley Field – GO CUBS GO! Of course, you can’t come to Wrigleyville without catching a Cubs game!! If you come on an off day, take a tour of field & get the insider experience. If you are lucky enough to get to a game, you obviously need to get a Chicago Dog – but BEWARE: you must not order from the counter, you need to go to a stand & ideally you want to go to the penthouse deck facing Hotel Zachary/Clark for the best dog, city views, & a little known spot within the stadium. Be sure to take a quick walk in the new Gallagher Way before, after, or during the game for a break from the crowds. Lastly, if you are in the bleachers (which is a guaranteed great time) don’t forget sunscreen & be ready to get on TV!
  • Dutch & Doc’s –  American fare & classic cocktails, this new restaurant definitely filled a void in the neighborhood. A two-story dining room provides the coolest experience at the corners of Addison & Clark, just across from the world famous Cubs Marquee. Be sure to get the Mac & Cheese & Mudslide cocktail, because who doesn’t love cheese & a boozy milkshake. Reservations accepted & encouraged.
  • Hotel Zachary – Inspired by the designs of world-renowned Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis, Hotel Zachary is where history and style come together. The bar is so beautifully designed, grabbing a cocktail here transports you back in time. If weather permits, do your best to grab a seat on the terrace & take in the views of the ballpark.
  • Big Star – A new addition to the neighborhood, this has easily become one of my favorite spots. Amazing margarita’s, tons of great menu items, & a two-story open air restaurant this is a great pre-game, post-game, or non-game day spot. Get a pitcher & the Big Star Hot Chips.
  • Al’s Beef – Famous for their Italian Beef’s, this is one of my favorite late night/post game spots. Grabbing a quick & guaranteed delicious italian beef always makes me a happy girl. Ask for the Gypsy Fries, you won’t regret it.
  • Sluggers – It’s an experience we all need to have. Unreasonably expensive beers, fun music & a rowdy dance floor, batting cages, & carnival games – what more do you need!
  • Old Crow – If you love country music, cold beer, BBQ, & fresh air; Old Crow is a must visit. Great bands, live karaoke, & pretty solid deals make this a neighborhood favorite.

If you’ve been to Wrigleyville, tell me your favorite spots! Or interested in living in the area, contact me to get started.