Finding a Short Term Apartment Lease in a Big City

I’ll never forget how excited I was when I found out that I had been offered a short term position in one of the largest cities in the country. The capitol of our nation, Washington DC, was about to be my new home in just a few short weeks. The only problem was that I needed somewhere to live and I didn’t need it for very long — about 4 months to be exact.

I found out that finding a short term apartment wasn’t actually that difficult, I just needed to look in all the right places. And once I found my place and submitted the paperwork, I reserved the moving container and planned to put the rest of my stuff in storage. It really is that simple!

5 Places to Look

U-Haul For Rent Sign
If an owner is needing to rent immediately, a short term lease may actually work out in his or her favor. Some owners try to sell and rent at the same time. (Flickr CC/Phil Sexton)
  • Online Message Boards & Forums — Try websites like, and hyper-local sites such as
  • Craigslist — The granddaddy of them all, Craigslist is one of the best places to search. The listings and possibilities are never ending, just remember to stay safe and use your best judgement. Never wire money or send a check blindly.
  • Realtor Websites — In big cities, many people are in the same boat. Some realtors specialize in short term leases and they may be able to help you.
  • Apartment Hunters — Each city paper usually has a housing guide — use it. It will give you the lay of the land and help you pick the best spot. Also check the classifieds. Yes, people still do use them.
  • Zillow — leverages the power of the MLS to help you. Although the MLS is typically used for full sales, sometimes owners are looking to sell or rent.

5 People to Ask

U-Haul Apartment Rooms
Renting a room in a house may be easier to do for short term than a full apartment. Be sure to explore all your options. (Wikimedia CC/Biatch)
  • Social Media — Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools. Use them to your advantage. Never underestimate the power of one status or tweet! Try “Moving to NYC in a few weeks, anyone ever live there before or know of housing leads?”
  • Friends and Family — You never know who knows who. Try to ask almost everyone you know, but remember that you’re not bragging about your move, you’re just trying to find somewhere to live.
  • New Employer — Whoever has hired you more than likely has lived in that city for a decent amount of time. Ask them if they know of any leads or places with available rental space.
  • Other New Employees — If there are other new employees in the same boat as you, and you think you may be able to live with them, partner up and see what you can do. Sometimes a 2 bedroom can be easier to find than a one bedroom.
  • Follow the Lead — If you can’t live with any of your co-workers, even just seeing what they’ve looked at may help narrow your options and cut out the places that you know won’t work.

The most important thing to remember is that the process may be difficult! Don’t give up, keep your eyes open and be actively looking for something every day. Being pro-active now will save you money and stress in the long run. And when you’re in a big city for only a short period of time who has time for wasted money and stress? Not you, that’s for sure!

Have you ever found a short term lease in a big city? How did you do it? Have you had a housing disaster? Let us know in the comments below.