The systematic logical way to find a new place to live

One morning, after waking up, I came to the realization that I needed to find a new place to live. This was due, in part, to what my roommate had told me that my landlord had said. "She is going to short sell the condo."
And so my quest for a new place to live had begun.

Read on to see how I planned my search:

Determine what is important
The most important step in finding a new place to live is to determine what you are really looking for. For me it was:
  • Distance from where I work

  • Cost of rent

  • My first impression

  • Crime rates

  • Whether it is a gated community or not

  • The number of bedrooms and bathrooms it has

  • The size in square footage

  • Whether or not it has carpet (I hate carpet)

  • Whether or not it has ceiling fans (to help with cooling costs)

  • Whether or not I like it

  • If it is an apartment complex, how well has it been reviewed

  • How easy it is for me to get around by walking (walkscore)

Assign ratings to your criteria
Now that you know what you want you need to put down how much you want it. I made a spreadsheet using Google Docs that allowed me easily rate all my housing options. If the place had no carpet I gave it a point. I gave a point for every ceiling fan that it had. I gave more points if the cost of the rent was relatively low. I took away points if rent was very high. I gave a point if it was a gated community.

Find places to compare
Once you have determined what is important to you, now you need to find some places to begin comparing to each other and to rate them to your established criteria. This is the most important part of the search process because the more places that you find to compare the better your basis of comparison will be. Driving around takes time and I don't have enough of that so I used mapping services to help me find a bunch (15+) of places. These services use the information on Craigslist postings and put that on a Google Map for you to look at. Here are the ones that I used:

Gather your information
Now you you have determined what is important and you have some places to start researching. The most important thing you can do next is to start looking at the information from the results of the mapping service and calling to find out whatever information you can without actually having to look at places. (Remember how much time that takes and how much time you don't have?)

Rate the places you've found
Before I started driving around to look at places I did my research and was able to assign points to all the places that I found. Then I drove to the top 5 places to determine if I liked it or not and to establish my first impression.

Look at your results and make a decision
I picked the second best option on my list and am thus far pleased with my choice. Here is my list: GoogleDocs

Good luck in your search.

Update: I saw this post from Apartment Therapy. It is another resource in your hunt to find a new place to live - http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/apartment-hunting-helpful-webs-164188