Ask Techland: How Can I Use Google Maps to Find My Next Apartment?

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Question: My lease is up at the end of the month and I’d ideally like to relocate closer to my job. Craigslist is great, but I really wish there was a website that could help me picture where my new apartment would be in relation to the neighborhood. Any help?

Answer: Sadly, apartment finding sites are a lot like their restaurant cousins: Not only do most of them look like they were created circa 1998, but they’re about as user-friendly as a phone book.

There are, however, a few serviceable options out there that use Google Maps to instantly get you acquainted with the neighborhood. Maps Krieg is a bit messy, but it culls listings from Craigslist and plots them geographically for you to pick from. Then there’s My Apartment Map, which at first seems well designed, but its navigation unfortunately requires a few too many clicks and forces you to scroll to the bottom of each new page. There’s also the minimally efficient Housing Maps which may work for some users, if they’re willing to grapple with the noisy text-only menu in the right-hand column.

(MORE: Rain or Shine: Weather Layer Added to Google Maps)

But the site we’re really digging is a new service called Apartment List, which we discovered via the fine work being done over at Google Maps Mania.

Though the site’s still in beta, the interface feels remarkably polished. It’s visually oriented yet functional, with the instructions clear enough for my mom to use.

Apartment List starts off by asking a basic question posed by most of these sites: Where do you want to live?

After entering your zip or neighborhood, you can bookend your price range and indicate your usual filters, like the number of bedrooms, baths and types of amenities.

When you’re done filtering, Apartment List plots all the available places across the neighborhood via Google Maps (pictured above), complete with neighborhood borders that fill in when you hover over them. Clicking on an available apartment shows you a preview of the listing in the left-hand module aggregated from another apartment finding site—handy, especially since you won’t have to open new windows or tabs unless you find a listing interesting.

If you log in with Facebook you’ll see a few additional bonus points, like a cool visualization of local restaurants complete with Yelp ratings.

But most important of all? Our search results churned out some pretty solid finds. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re scouring the web for a new place to live.

Happy hunting!

MORE: Ask Techland: How Can I Clear Up Space in Gmail?

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