written by:
illustrated by:
November 16, 2011

No, not those kind of adventures, Mr. Casual Encounters. We’re talking about house hunting.

renting 101 adventures on craigslist illustration

There are many online apartment-finding services (StreetEasy, Naked Apartments, HotPads, to name a few) but good ol’ Craigslist is still the free and comprehensive resource for finding a new place to live, especially if you don’t feel like springing for hidden fees. We decode a few terms, dispel a few myths, and show you how to spot a broker in hiding.


Mint: This word is used often, ostensibly to evoke the idea of “new” without actually saying “new.”

Cozy: “Cozy” means small. Minifridge small. Prison-cell small. Give it a real second thought if the image attached is taken with a fisheye or panoramic lens.

Sweet/Cute/Adorable: If the listing contains adjectives that could also describe a puppy or kitten, odds are it will be a dump.

Live/Work Space or Artist’s Loft:
Walls? Kitchen? Working toilet? Don’t count on it. Do count on the possibility of living underground.

Students Welcome:
See “Cozy.”

Will Go Fast/Must See: This is not a summer blockbuster, it's your potential home, and if the landlord needs to instill a sense of urgency, the place has been sitting for a while.

Steps away from nightlife/gym/restaurants/transportation:
The person who wrote this listing has never seen the apartment or visited the neighborhood.

You would have to be cr8zy not to take these digs:
No comment.

JR 1 Bedroom: Don’t kid yourself, you’re going to view a stu-stu-studio.

To Fee or Not to Fee

Savvy Craigslisters know to search only the “By Owner” listings, which are less likely to incur fees. However, many, many listings in the section are really brokers in disguise. Here are a few tips for spotting them:

1. Writes “text me for details.”
2. Posts fuzzy, generic photos of an apartment pulled from Google Images.
3. USES ALL CAPS and !!!!!!
4. Something on the listing is blinking.
5. Under “Fee Disclosure” lists a “processing fee” (read: broker fee), “low fee” (broker fee), or “NO FEE” (except for their broker fee, of course).
6. Excessive superlatives and marketing words (“phenomenal deal,” “a true gem,” “stunning views,” “in the heart of [insert desirable neighborhood here]”).
7. When you call, does not know the exact address of the property, also offers to show you other apartments in the area that he or she just happens to know about offhand.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016