Tips for Apartment Hunting in Minneapolis

I (Anna) live in the North Loop. I’ve lived in three different apartment buildings, and have done research on virtually all of the buildings in the area. When I first started apartment searching about 6 years ago, my friend and I created a google sheet to keep track of everything. Years later, I still go back to it. I’ve updated it to be more accurate for 2021, and have made it so you can create your own copy of it and use it in your apartment search. In addition to this tool, I’m going to share how I typically approach my search and some of the things to look out for when renting in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis apartment scene of course will continue to change, but even if you refer back to this in a few years, the tool & tips should still hold up. 🙂

Alright, let’s start with the spreadsheet. Using this tool **<- click there** will help you stay organized and will make it easier to compare properties. Just make a copy of the document, and add any other collaborators to make it your own. Feel free to add/remove and edit any columns (once you copy it, it’s 100% yours). Add amenity checkboxes that are important to you, and remove whatever isn’t relevant. Note, you will need to adjust the formula in column E, depending on any rental incentives. Right now, the formula in the example row is =B3*11/12. This is due to the 1 month of free rent incentive example. This formula takes the monthly rent and multiplies it by 11 to get the total rent you’ll pay that year (x11 vs. x12, since you’re getting one month free). Then, to get the adjusted monthly rate, we divide the annual rent by 12. Hope that makes sense! If you have any questions, just DM us on Instagram. I’m happy to help! P.S. if you missed the hyperlink above, try clicking this URL:

Alright, now that you have a place to keep all your info, you’re ready to start searching.

First, figure out the area/neighborhood in which you want to live. I think location is key, so I always start here.

Next, list out your must haves. One super weird thing I learned (the hard way) is that I really need my bathroom vanity to have a drawer. You’d think that was commonplace, right? Well, it’s not, haha. Underground parking? An onsite gym? Come up with your list of non-negotiables.

Then, list out the nice to haves. Do you want to be able to grill on the rooftop in the summer? Do you want to be able to rent out a party room? Etc.

Now, obviously we need to be mindful of budget. Keep in mind the added costs you’ll incur each month (parking, internet, electric, renter’s insurance, etc.) and be sure to take those into consideration when figuring out your rental budget. Luckily, these won’t change too much from building to building, so I like to take my all-in budget, and subtract what I’ve estimated for the variable costs/other recurring costs. However, since parking costs can vary a bit more, I typically like to compare properties by looking just at the monthly rent + monthly parking costs. Okay, now that I’ve probably put 75% of you to sleep, let’s move on.

Once you have this all worked out, now you’re ready to start looking at what properties are in the area. Schedule some tours, check out some properties and track it all in your spreadsheet!

Now for a few tips about getting a good deal/negotiating:

  • Ask about any lease incentives, even if you don’t see any posted
  • As with any negotiation, keep your cards close to your chest. Don’t appear too eager. Let them know you are looking at other properties as well.
  • Don’t sign a lease on the spot (unless you LOVE it and there are other interested parties… sometimes you really do have to act fast).
  • Consider renting in a new building that is still not fully occupied. You can almost always get a really good deal. This is how I’ve been able to live in nice places for a (relatively) more affordable rate.
  • If they can’t budge on the rental rates, ask if they can waive your pet rent, or give you a free party room rental.

Other things to think about when renting in Minneapolis (specifically, the North Loop):

  • Check out the area at night. Living right on Washington has always felt very safe to me, but some of the buildings that are a bit more tucked away can make me feel a little uneasy. I do feel very safe in the North Loop, but I was just surprised how much safer I felt when I lived right on Washington, compared to living off-Wash.
  • Pay attention to the bedroom window situation. Many of the buildings in the North Loop are converted warehouses, and often don’t have bedroom windows. Partial walls and bedroom window/skylight things are common. I’ve lived with this, and it’s not a deal breaker for me; however, I would put “true bedroom windows” on my nice to have list.
  • Look for a place with great natural light and good windows, and be aware of how the lighting will change throughout the day
  • I said it before, but honestly, not having a drawer in the bathroom vanity was SO WEIRD and is now one of my dealbreakers. I had to keep my toothbrush in my bedroom for 2 years…. WHAT?
  • If you’re anything like me, you won’t use the pool/grills/other amenities as often as you’d like to think you will. I personally wouldn’t make a decision off of a pool (nice to have, not must have), but a cool rooftop is a must for me.
  • If you have a dog, buildings with their own “dog parks” are sooo nice (but pretty rare). There is an outdoor area on the 4th floor of ElseWarehouse for the dogs to go to the bathroom. I miss it every day.
  • Another oddly specific thing that I care about – community printers. ElseWarehouse had a little computer/printer station that was so convenient for printing all my inevitable return labels. Variant didn’t have this, so I had to buy a printer. And now I keep a printer under my bed. Obviously not a deal breaker, just a weird little thing that can be an annoyance, haha.
  • Parking. I don’t think this will be a deal breaker for anyone, but some of these parking garages are insanely tight. I’m a good and confident driver/parker/whatever, but some of these spots are so difficult to get in and out of. Just consider taking a look at the parking sitch before you sign a lease.

Finally, if you’re interested in living in the North Loop, I’ve listed and linked a bunch of buildings in the google doc above. My faves are Variant, Second + Second, ElseWarehouse, The Copham and Borealis. I’ve heard great things about Velo, Soltva, Solhavn and NoLo Flats, too!

THANK YOU for sticking with me. I hope this was helpful! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

-Anna & TBP

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