Finding an Apartment

When moving to a new city, looking for housing can seem daunting, especially if you can’t visit in person. Starting your search well in advance of your move – based on the timeline information provided on this site – will make the process much less stressful.

Once you decide how much you can afford and what you are looking for, the easiest place to start is with online listings, looking at the cost for what you want in different parts of Hyde Park or other neighborhoods. You may want to connect online or by email with current students who can offer advice to help you feel more confident during your apartment search.

Size, location, and the condition or amenities of a building are the most significant factors in the price of an apartment. You may find a wide range of apartments available which fit your budget in different neighborhoods across the city. After you have an idea of what you can afford in the area you are targeting, narrow down your choices and shorten your list of possible apartments. Then begin contacting properties that seem like a good fit to learn more, or if possible to make appointments for tours.

If you’re ready to start looking, check out the “Online Resources” page for a list of brokers and sites which aggregate apartment listings, or “Management Companies in Hyde Park,” with a list of some of the largest such firms in our area.

Tips for Your Search

Don’t feel like you need to rush through this process and accept the first place you find. Keep in mind that new listings come up regularly, and landlords may only know they will have a vacancy four to eight weeks in advance. Here are a few tips to help you avoid common mistakes.

Renters have rights. The City of Chicago has extensive rules and regulations governing the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and you, the tenant. You may find it helpful to review these regulations before starting your search, and you should definitely review them before signing a lease. The City provides a summary of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, as well as a link to the ordinance itself, here.

Renter’s Rights

Condition of the unit and the building. In person or online, check the general condition in the apartment, and also around the building (Google Maps Streetview is helpful if you can’t do this in person). It’s OK to ask the landlord to let you ask the current tenant questions, although they probably will not put you directly in touch with them for privacy reasons. If anything seems to be broken or not functioning, you should ask that the maintenance be completed before your actual move-in date and that the agreement to do these repairs be included in your lease agreement. You will also have an opportunity to list these items upon move-in.

Ask about utilities. Don’t forget to ask the landlord about which utilities are included in the rent and which are not. Most listings will describe this up front, but it’s fine to double check.

Things to check for if you or a friend can visit an apartment

  • Turn on all the faucets to check the water pressure and how quickly it gets hot
  • Turn on all the lights; not every room in an apartment will have ceiling lighting
  • Check the locks on the doors and windows to make sure they work
  • Check for holes or water damage on the floor, walls, and ceilings
  • If provided, check to make sure the air conditioning and heating work properly (Note: most older buildings do not have central air conditioning, and heat is often provided via radiators which you will not be able to turn on or off at will)
  • Take note of the number of electrical outlets and where they are located
  • Ask to see the laundry room or any other amenities the building offers (storage, bike room, etc.)
  • If you are unsure about an area, consider visiting in the evening

Take notes on these items based on either provided photos or your visit, and use these notes to compare units. You can also use this apartment comparison checklist.

Questions to Ask

Asking questions is just as critical as seeing apartments and neighborhoods. Below you will find some questions to ask when evaluating properties:

The Apartment and Lease

  • How long is the lease period? Most are one year, but feel free to ask about other options.
  • How much is the rent, and what was the rent of the last tenant?
  • How often does the rent go up, and by how much?
  • Does the landlord ask for a security deposit or a move-in fee? In what circumstances can you get this deposit back?
  • What would be the results of breaking the lease early?
  • How old is the apartment?
  • Is there central heat and/or air conditioning, or is the unit heated by radiators?
  • What is the pet policy? Note that buildings may allow only certain types of pets, and may charge a fee if you have one.
  • What is the apartment maintenance process? How are emergency repairs taken care of? Is the building supervisor or engineer located on-site?
  • Does the landlord have any other special policies you should be aware of?

Utilities

  • Which utilities, if any, are included in the rent? (Water is usually included; heat is often but not always included; additional amenities like electricity, cooking gas, internet, or cable television are rarely included.)
  • Will the utilities be handled by the manager or landlord, or do you need to re-apply? Most renters will need to establish their own electricity accounts, and often natural gas as well; you can also choose to sign up for internet or cable services.

Parking

  • Does the building have parking available? How much does it cost? Is there a waiting list?
  • Is any visitor parking available?

Location

  • Where are the closest grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats and/or dry cleaners, and train lines or bus routes?

Furniture & Appliances

  • Is the unit furnished? If so, what is provided?
  • What appliances are included? Almost all units include the stove and refrigerator, but dishwashers and microwave ovens are less common.
  • What condition are the appliances and furniture in?

Management Companies and Brokers

Broadly speaking, there are two easy routes to finding an apartment in Hyde Park – or any other neighborhood. One is to work with a management company that has many units available, usually in a large number of buildings. The other option is to work with broker or listing company, which usually does not own or manage any properties, but works with a large number of management firms and helps connect apartment seekers with options that meet their criteria for location, budget, etc.

The easiest place to begin your search is to use online apartment listing websites to get an idea of what prices are like in each neighborhood you’re interested in. On these sites, you can narrow your results by applying filters with your preferences such as price range, neighborhood, number of bedrooms, whether it allows pets, etc. They will show apartments from many different management companies, and sometimes from individuals renting out their condominium or house.

Here are a few of the many sources for apartment listings throughout the Chicago area. Almost all of them will allow you to contact the landlord or even apply for an apartment through the site, and some, such as StudentSpace or Apartment Finders, can even arrange in-person showings for you.

Please note that the University does not endorse or promote any specific company, vendor, or rental agent; the companies mentioned here are offered for informational purposes only.

Classified Ads

In addition to sites which focus on housing, there are other sites which have advertisements for a wide range of goods and services. These are usually posted by private individuals, and not companies, and so it is a good idea to exercise caution when arranging to meet someone you have contacted through a classified ad. However, in addition to apartments, these can be a good way to find used furniture, appliances, and other items you may need. Please note that the University does not endorse or promote any specific company, vendor, or rental agent; the companies mentioned here are offered for informational purposes only.

  • Craigslist: A national site which allows you to search by location and category
  • Hyde Park Herald: The local neighborhood newspaper, with online ads
  • University of Chicago Marketplace: The University community’s classified site, which has apartments, jobs, furniture, and services. You can also post requests for a roommate there.

Property Management Companies

There are two types of property management companies –those that own and manage one or more buildings, and those that manage units or buildings on behalf of other owners. Because management companies usually work with a large number of tenants, they offer services like leasing agents to show you available units, 24-hour emergency service numbers, and so on. Click on “Management Companies in Hyde Park” above to view a list of local companies that routinely work with UChicago students.

Please note that the University does not endorse or promote any non-University company, vendor, or rental agent; the third-party companies mentioned here are offered for informational purposes only.

Listing Agents or Realtors

While you can do your own search for properties listed on online resources, working with a listing agent, or even a realtor (real estate agent), may provide you access to units that are not listed yet. Some of the sites listed above, and all of the major property management companies, have staff who will assist you in identifying which of their listings or properties are a good fit for you, and if you can visit, will show you several units. Realtors typically focus on selling properties, but a few also work with rental units.

A listing agent or property management representative can help you with a search for housing based on your criteria. A good agent with past experience of the neighborhood can also keep you away from buildings with a history of problems, or even help you negotiate the terms with your future landlord. Be sure to discuss any fees they may charge in advance – while in some cases the renter is responsible for paying any fees, in others the fees are covered by the landlord.

Where to Stay if You Visit Chicago

If you do decide to visit Chicago to conduct your apartment search, it is a good idea to line up your appointments for showings in advance. Making sure that your visit includes a week day may be helpful, since not every management company will be open on the weekend.

Once you have decided to visit, there are a few ways to arrange accommodations during your stay.

  • Contact your school or department and ask if any current students might be willing to put you up during your stay
  • Consider a hostel, such as the HI Chicago in downtown, the Freehand Chicago in River North, the Urban Holiday Lofts in Wicker Park, or several others, which you can find on HostelWorld.com or Hostels.com.
  • If you have the budget for a hotel, options in Hyde Park include the Hyatt Place-Chicago South/University Place and the La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago-Lake Shore.
  • There are hundreds of hotels across the city, so feel free to explore for more ideas.

Please note that the University does not endorse or promote any specific non-University company, vendor, or rental agent; the third-party companies mentioned here are offered for informational purposes only.

Many students choose to use online apartment listing sites or brokers, who work with a wide variety of management companies. However, it is also possible to work directly with a management company that has many units available. For a list of online listing sites and brokers, please see the “Online Resources” page.

There are two types of property management companies—those that own and manage one or more buildings, and those that manage units or buildings on behalf of other owners. Because management companies usually work with a large number of tenants, they offer services like leasing agents to show you available units, 24-hour emergency service numbers, and so on.

The management companies listed here offer a range of options in Hyde Park, Woodlawn, and Kenwood.

Please note that the University does not endorse or promote any non-University company, vendor, or rental agent; the third-party companies mentioned here are offered for informational purposes only.


The University of Chicago Residential Properties

University Residential Properties

The University of Chicago Residential Properties Office manages a small number of apartment units in the Hyde Park area specifically for graduate students, with furnished and unfurnished options. Three of the buildings offer accessible units, and interested students should contact their office directly with information about their specific needs. These units fill up very fast – usually in the spring – so if you are considering this option, you should apply on their website no later than March to put your name on the waiting list.


Vue53

Vue53

Vue53 is a university-approved housing option for students, faculty, and staff. One of Hyde Park’s newest apartment communities, Vue53 features studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments, in-unit washers and dryers, furnished and unfurnished units, and a wide variety of community amenities. They also offer roommate matching services. Vue53 is located on 53rd street, one of Hyde Park’s main commercial streets.


Hyde Park Places

Hyde Park Places

Hyde Park Places is comprised of three buildings throughout Hyde Park. Located near campus and UGo shuttle bus routes, Hyde Park Places offers studios and one bedroom units, with furnished units and community amenities. All utilities and internet services are included in the base rental price. Suitable for students, faculty, and staff, Hyde Park Places offers flexible move-in timing, terms, and online payment options. Visit HydeParkPlaces.com for a list of available units and features.


Hyde Park Property Management

Hyde Park Property Management Company

Hyde Park Property Management manages over 25 apartment buildings near campus and UGo shuttle bus routes. Hyde Park Property Management offers a variety of living options, from traditional Chicago courtyard to mid-rise apartment buildings. Furnished apartments are available for added convenience at an additional cost. Their website shows real time availability, pricing, photos, floor plans, and building amenities. Dedicated leasing staff is available to take you on a personalized tour of ready-to-rent apartments based on your rental needs. Video apartment tours can also be arranged for out-of-state and international graduate students.


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Cagan Management Group

Cagan Management Group provides property management services for a dozen buildings in Hyde Park, as well as others around the Chicagoland area. Leasing agents will work with renters to identify units that meet your needs, and offer scheduled tours of available units. Note that they do not have an office in Hyde Park, so appointments are necessary, but their website also includes details of available units.


Mac Property Management

Mac Properties

Mac is one of the largest landlords in Hyde Park, with more than 80 buildings, ranging from lake-front high rises and renovated historic properties to walk-up units. Their site shows currently available units with photos and floor plans, costs of lease terms, and building amenities. Leasing agents will work with you to determine which units may meet your needs. Mac will also take you to visit several buildings if you are able to come to Chicago in person. Several of Mac’s largest properties, Regents Park, the Shoreland, and City Hyde Park have their own websites.


Parker-Holsman

Parker-Holsman

This is a smaller, local management company. Although they manage fewer buildings, you can still submit your criteria through their website to learn more about available units. More openings are typically posted in the summer months.


TLC Management

TLC Management

TLC manages more than a dozen buildings in Hyde Park, as well as others throughout the city. Their website shows available units, building amenities, photos and floor plans, and more, with additional information about furnished options. Their staff will be able to discuss with you the range of options that they offer, and their initial application is available online.


Twin Towers

Twin Towers

Living With a Roommate

Are you considering living with, or actively looking for, a roommate? There are certainly many advantages to deciding to share an apartment – from cost savings to even potentially a new friend. If you do decide to look for an apartment with a roommate, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Finding a Roommate

There are a variety of ways to go about identifying a possible roommate, even if you do not know anyone else who is or will be in Chicago. As with the apartment search itself, it’s best to consider beforehand what you need or want in a roommate – is it important that they share your cleaning or social preferences? Are you willing to live with pets, or with someone who smokes? Where are you hoping to live, and do you have a preference for a type of apartment? Once you’ve identified your needs in these areas, consider some of the following options for finding a roommate.

  • Connect with current or incoming students on listhosts or social media. Does your school, department, or division have a listhost, Facebook page, or other way to contact others in those programs? UChicagoGRAD’s Admitted Graduate Students Facebook page is one such example.
  • Use a roommate matching service. These are offered by some of the major rental companies we list elsewhere, including Vue 53, Hyde Park Property Management, Mac Apartments, and others.
  • Look for listings of current tenants advertising for a new roommate. The University’s Marketplace site and other listing sites will often have ads seeking a new roommate. You could also post such an ad asking for someone to apartment-hunt with.
  • Make sure that you are clear up front about the items you identified as most important to you, and think about how you will know the person will be a reliable and safe roommate. Once you have identified a potential roommate, consider discussing with them the sorts of issues that may arise. Dealing with these issues up front may save you from problems later, and should be addressed before signing a lease with them. Consider creating a written agreement in advance spelling out your arrangement.

Remember that once you sign a lease together, you will each individually be responsible to the landlord for all Tenant obligations under the terms of your lease, including the rent and any damages to the unit – so please choose your fellow tenants carefully.

  • Do you share the concerns that you identified as most important? That is, will your preferences regarding cleaning, lifestyle, studying, and social habits be a good fit with this person’s preferences?
  • Will he or she respect your personal property and privacy?
  • How will you divide the rental payments, utility expenses, and even groceries?
  • Who will provide or pay for which household items (furniture, kitchenware, etc.)?

Tips for Living With a Roommate

Planning ahead is a great way to ensure that you and your roommate are a good fit. Going into the roommate relationship with open lines of communication, and having a plan for addressing issues if they arise, will help you prevent unnecessary conflicts. Below are some tips to help you make the most of this experience.

  • Be sure that you are being a good roommate. Adhere to the terms of your agreement and your rental obligations, and be open to dialogue and feedback.
  • Avoid implicit language and try to be explicit – don’t expect him or her to be able to read your mind.
  • When possible, communicate with your roommate in person. This is more likely to be effective than communicating via impersonal notes or other forums.
  • Be flexible – if both of you are open to compromise and adjustment along the way, new situations can be addressed constructively.
  • If an issue arises that you are not able to reach agreement on, ask a neutral third party to help you find a solution together.

Whether you have school age-children or are planning to start a family, location is an important consideration for student parents. In addition to finding an apartment, you will need to consider where your children will go to daycare or school, whether the area is popular with other young families, and whether you will have easy access to playgrounds, your pediatrician, and family-friendly activities. Here are our tips for renting with children.

Take schools into consideration

For families with young children, local school options may determine where you choose to live. Can you afford a private school? If so, how will your child get to school? Will your child attend a public school? If so, students are assigned to a school based on their home address. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) begin on the first Tuesday of September every fall, but registration for places happens much earlier in the summer. Here are some resources to help you explore which school’s area you may want to rent in. Before signing a lease, you can also call the school to confirm that it is in their attendance area.

Note that many schools will require a physical examination and immunization records before enrolling a child, and CPS will require proof of your address in Chicago.

UChicagoGRAD’s Family Resource Center Parent Guide includes information on public and private schools in the area. You may also want to consult the Chicago Public Schools’ School Locator Map.

Proximity to playgrounds and daycare

Chicago – and Hyde Park – boasts a wide variety of parks and playgrounds. Living within walking distance of a place for your children to play outdoors, or near child-friendly attractions like the Museum of Science and Industry, will have great benefits. If your children are preschool age, consider the variety of options and cost of daycares or childcare co-ops.

UChicagoGRAD’s Family Resource Center Parent Guide also includes information on childcare options and child-friendly attractions.

Look for family-friendly housing

If the building is a family-friendly one, then living there with little kids will be easier – and probably more fun. Generally, buildings with larger apartments are more likely to be family-friendly; a nearby playground, or a bike room harboring plenty of kids’ bikes are good indicators of a child-friendly environment. Having neighbors with children is a built-in way to make friends for the whole family.

Laundry facilities

Having an in-unit or on-site washer/dryer will make life much easier for families with children. In-unit laundry is mostly found in newer or renovated – and thus usually more expensive – properties, but an on-site laundry room is fairly typical. Some buildings might allow you to have a portable washer and dryer that you can easily connect to the sink when required. Asking your landlord in advance whether it is allowed or not may prevent future conflicts.

Talk with your potential landlord beforehand about the accessibility features of the property. What type of resources do you need?

  • Are there in-unit features such as grab bars, sufficient clear floor space, appropriately located outlets and switches, or emergency alarm systems designed for individuals with hearing and/or vision loss?
  • Are all of the common areas of the building, such as the mail room, laundry, and hallways, accessible as well?
  • If alterations are needed for the unit to fully suit your needs, will the landlord provide or facilitate them?

University of Chicago Student Disability Services
University of Chicago Graduate Student Housing – contact them directly to inquire about accessible units
Fair Housing Act Information
Disability Rights in Housing