Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rental/house-hunting spreadsheet how-to

Oh Joy!
TOOT!  The most amazing post ever is here, so put on your party hats because I'm about to make your life way easier.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to hunting online for a new place to live, I inevitably used to end up with a bookmark list of Craigslist and Zillow pages, which I would then have to sift through and remember by name and sooner or later, it'd become totally unmanageable.  Luckily around that point we'd settle on a place, and I could happily delete the bookmark list.  This time around, what with moving to a different city and both of us juggling new jobs, I decided an organizational shift in our process was needed.

I love Google Docs, so naturally I turned to that for the new system I was going to create.

I know this might look rather small on your screen, so I'll break down the column headings for you.  It goes a little something like this:  Address.  Link to posting. Contacted agent Y/N?  Contact date.  Price.  # of bedrooms/bathrooms.  Neighborhood.  Washer/dryer Y/N?  Square footage.  Notes.

We started out with a pretty long sheet (it goes on below where I cut it off).  At one point they were ranked, but as we whittled down the list that fell away.  Places that got cut got greyed out, as this helped us keep track when we'd go back to Craigslist and wonder, "Did we already look into that place, or was that a different place on Idlewood?"  The links are good for easy reference.  The contact Y/N is helpful because sometimes we'll look at something online, be vaguely interested, but not necessarily contact them right away.  Likewise, if we contact and don't hear back, we can eventually strike something if the contact date was a while back with no update.  We're veeeeery familiar with the neighborhoods of Richmond, so it made sense to include that as a column.  Paying X in one place is not the same as paying X in another!  Likewise, if it were, say, in the Fan and didn't have a washer/dryer, well, I know the cute laundromat on Strawberry would suffice until we remedied the situation.  

Obviously, everyone has different reasons and priorities when it comes to looking at certain places, so to each their own when it comes to column headings.  But this whole process has made the slog of rental searching vastly easier for us, and I highly, highly recommend it.  It's been a sanity-saver for me, and having the Google Drive app on my phone allows me to access it as a mobile spreadsheet, which is definitely easier than sifting through emails looking to see if I emailed that person about that post, or worse, sifting through Craigslist on the mobile site to find that place you think you remember when out and about.  

Now if I could just get the rental that's highlighted in green (well, the one I reaaaally want, I mean -- the other is the backup silver-medal winner; cross your fingers for me, Internet...)...that's the one thing the spreadsheet can't do: grant wishes. 

And sorry about the party hat intro.  It's guys, I can't do much else to make a post about spreadsheets look even passably clickable.  

*chirp chirp chirp*



  1. I also highly recommend this method. To take this nerdery a step further, we have a shared Google spreadsheet of favorite restaurants (complete with a which-place-is-open-for-brunch-on-which-day tab) that we can open up on-the-go to prevent the "where do we want to eat" blahs. In conjunction with our Foursquare to-do list of new places we haven't tried, it keeps us from eating at the same old couple of places.

    1. Oh that is a good idea! We often end up at the same places over and over again precisely because we just default to the same places over and over again (which isn't *bad* but it does keep us in a brunch rut). (Ever being in a brunch rut is literally the more bourgeoisie complaint I may have ever made.)

  2. Moving back to town also gives us ample reason to try new places too, which is good!

  3. Next time I move, I think I'm just going to hire you. Especially since I'm a We Need a Plan person, and my partner is a "Let's just roll with what happens and oh by the way, i do think we can add/subtract this one important deal-breaker, no matter that we're in the middle of a showing." I mean, apartment hunting for us went very smoothly. But I shudder to think of searching in a larger metro area, as we've become accustomed to cheap rent getting us a clean, updated, well-located apt. I just don't expect our luck to hold.

    1. Sure! :P I'll take up a second career as a rental information concierge. :) Rental hunting suuuuuucks. It seems like it's way more annoying than it was about five years ago. Around here, Craigslist is WAY more spammed by rental agencies posting the same space over and over and over again that it's hard to find anything decent!

  4. I love this! My usual tactic when looking at apartments is to just keep 8 million tabs open in Chrome, which means eventually my computer crashes and I lose them all. I don't know why I never thought to do something more organized--I love Google spreadsheets!

  5. Keeping a record is the wisest thing to do! You can easily compare the features of the house using the spreadsheet, right? I bet you’ll find it easier to decide which house to buy as you see its strong and weak points on the record. Good luck on your house hunting! :)

    Chad Nelson