Like most city-dwellers, I rent my living quarters. For the past year and a half I’ve been residing in a 1-bedroom apartment a block off of Cathedral Square in downtown Milwaukee. I’ve loved every second, and would wholeheartedly recommend the location to anyone interested (and plan on writing an article about the area). I’m moving soon, however, and have run into the same problem many people do, especially students: Deer God, how do I find a new place to live?! There’s entire subsections of the Interwebz dedicated to helping you find a new abode, and new ones pop up every day. One developed by Wisconsinites and catering largely to Madison is Adobo. It was started in 2012 and has a pretty slick interface. I haven’t actually used it for my own moves, but if you’re looking for a home-grown, local product it’s there. But the most useful tool I’ve found in the battle for new housing in Milwaukee and beyond is called PadMapper. Created by one guy back in 2008 who was sick of searching so hard with little success, PadMapper is billed to “Make Apartment Hunting Suck Less.” It certainly does that. Simplicity: It’s about as simple a tool as you can get. The whole site is essentially just an overlay on top of the oh-so-familiar Google Maps. When you move/zoom, the map will respond by displaying more points. It’s full-screen by default to let you get the most out of the space. Customization: The filters on PadMapper cover just about everything you could want. Besides the standard Rent, Bedrooms, and Bathrooms, you can narrow by Lease Term, Price per Bedroom (for roommates), Dogs and/or Cats allowed, and much more. The Keywords search works with Boolean operations as well. There’s even options to save listings as favorites or hide them from the map. Power: Simple doesn’t mean weak. While you can post directly to PadMapper, it’s chiefly an aggregation machine. PadMapper pulls listings from over 7 different popular websites and puts them all in one spot (updated throughout the day). There’s options to put in an address and only look for listings within a certain walk/bike/drive radius of there. PadMapper even pulls in information about the neighborhoods, WalkScores, and Yelp reviews of nearby establishments. I’ve now used this tool for 3 moves (1 to St Louis, 2 in Milwaukee), and I can honestly say it’s made all of those apartment hunts suck much less. I can’t recommend it enough.
All images from PadMapper.com.