Apartment Hunting in Gainesville
Are you ready to make the move to a new apartment in Gainesville? Signing your first lease or moving to a new place can be intimidating and stressful. However, there are several ways in which you can prepare to make this new chapter in life more exciting and less daunting. Gainesville is home to a diverse community of students, families, entrepreneurs, nature enthusiasts and athletes, so no matter the reason for relocating you’re guaranteed to find a place that’s perfect for you.
This guide is brought to you by the team of Local Experts at Swamp Rentals, a local guide created by a group of UF Gator grads that makes it easy to find apartments in Gainesville that fit your lifestyle and budget.
Evaluating Your Apartment Needs
Before getting started, it’s important to identify your priorities and lifestyle needs. Evaluating things like budget, location, and lease length will form the basis for your search.
Apartment Size: The first thing you should identify for your search is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms required in your Gainesville apartment. Do each of your children need their own bedroom? Will you be living alone? Perhaps a 2 bedroom apartment would be the best fit so you have space for extra storage, a home office, or for visiting guests.
Budget: Break down your monthly or weekly expenses and draft an affordable budget for rent and utilities. Keep in mind that you don’t want to strap yourself down too tight; you should leave room in your budget to add to your savings account each month and be sure to leave some “fun money,” for dinner out and vacations.
Non-Negotiable Features and Amenities: Create a short list of apartment features and amenities that are absolute must-haves in your future apartment. Popular items on this list for Gainesville renters might include apartments with a washer and dryer, community pool, and hardwood flooring for renters with pets.
Move-in Date: Do you have a specific date you need to move in on or by? Here’s a pro tip: If your move-in date is flexible, you may be able to get a better deal on your apartment by moving during the off season (roughly October-February) instead of popular summer months (June-August).
Which Gainesville neighborhood is the best fit?
The central Gainesville area is relatively small, and you can drive from one end to the other in 30 minutes or less, especially with the help of I-75! With The University of Florida at the heart of our small town, traffic can cause delays during peak commute times. If you need to travel often to work or school during rush hour, we recommend choosing a Gainesville apartment on the same side of town as your final destination or with easy access to I-75. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular neighborhoods for renting in Gainesville:
The Archer Road Neighborhood is incredibly popular for renters, especially with all of the new development surrounding Butler Plaza and Celebration Pointe. If you love to shop and dine out, this is the neighborhood for you! This area is also a top-choice for renters relocating for residency or hospital work and needing an apartment near UF Health.
The West Gainesville Neighborhood is a Gainesville housing mecca, with many of the largest apartment communities situated along SW 20th Avenue. You’ll find a wide variety of apartments in this neighborhood, ranging from new to old and low to high budget. West Gainesville is centrally located and provides quick access to The University of Florida and I-75. There are also a lot of shops and restaurants in West Gainesville, with The Oaks Mall as their anchor.
South Gainesville is a large neighborhood that stretches from the east side of UF Campus down to the wetlands of Payne’s Prairie. Home to Sorority Row, this is a popular neighborhood for student apartments near The University of Florida. On the north side of this neighborhood, pedestrians own the road and you’ll notice a lot of the residents in this neighborhood commute to campus by foot, bike, scooter, or the RTS bus line. Further South, this neighborhood is quieter and hosts quite a few more affordable apartment options along SW 13th Street (US 441).
Downtown Gainesville hosts a unique collection of eclectic local shops, restaurants, bars, and office spaces. This isn’t your typical downtown metropolis filled with sky scrapers and honking car horns. The vibe in Downtown Gainesville is cool and easy. There are a handful of apartments in Downtown Gainesville, but not as many as you’d expect. The area is very walkable, and you can easily head downstairs from your apartment for a cup of coffee or to meet friends for a drink.
The Midtown Neighborhood encompasses the College Park area north of The University of Florida campus. This neighborhood explodes in a sea of orange and blue on Gator gamedays and is most popular with students because it is within walking distance to UF’s largest lecture hall buildings and Library West. The landscape of this neighborhood is changing fast with the recent More in Midtown neighborhood project improving road quality and store fronts and encouraging new apartment development.
Northwest Gainesville is the most residential neighborhood, with many of the larger housing developments spanning the area. You’ll find quiet, established luxury apartment communities in this neighborhood that boast spacious floor plans and pretty, wooded views. Other than the handful of student apartments near Santa Fe College, northwest Gainesville is the quieter, more scenic side of Gainesville. It is a great neighborhood to live in if you’re looking for a peaceful lifestyle.
The Town of Tioga and Haile are the western-most neighborhoods in Gainesville. The Tioga Town Center is at the heart of the neighborhood, with office spaces, fitness facilities, and restaurants that residents frequent often. Students typically don’t live in this area, as it is the farthest from UF campus. If you’re looking for a quieter neighborhood with easy access to I-75, this might be the spot for you!
After nailing down the major needs, it’s time to start thinking about the things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for you. If you’re an animal lover, check for apartments that are pet friendly and have amenities catered to you and your furry companions, like a dog park. For those looking to cut down on costs by finding a roommate, consider size, layout, and apartment type (by the bed vs. by the apartment) when looking for the right space. If an all-inclusive rental is more appealing, check for communities that include utilities, such as: water, electric, internet, cable, trash, and pest control in your rent. Students starting out on their own may benefit from an already furnished apartment, and luckily many Gainesville communities offer furniture packages. Amenities like a fitness center, pool, or laundry facility may also come in handy. No matter which neighborhood you choose, you’ll want to check on parking arrangements (free or city) and bus routes in the area.
When to Start Your Gainesville Apartment Search
There is no shortage of apartment communities and rentals in Gainesville, so there’s no need to rush before having weighed all of your options. If you’re a little late to the game, don’t panic! There are plenty of apartments in the area that have openings consistently throughout the year as residents come and go. Do keep in mind that apartment communities operating on a specific lease term may have strict move-in and move-out dates, especially to prepare for students coming back to Gainesville after the summer break.
Students looking for off-campus housing should expect to sign a lease that begins at the start of the school semester: in August, January, or June. The most popular move-in date for Gainesville student housing is mid-August just before the Fall semester starts. For an August move-in date, you should plan to sign a lease as soon as January but should have your place reserved before the end of May as many of the top apartment options in Gainesville will start selling out around this time.
Non-students looking for conventional housing should start apartment hunting as much as 6 months before the desired move-in date. Non-student apartments in Gainesville have lease openings throughout the year and should know their availability 60-90 days before your move-in date. We recommend you amp up your search 90 days out, and plan to sign a lease during the 30-60 day window before your move-in date.
Renting an Apartment in Gainesville with Pets
If your family includes a cat or a dog, you have an extra list of boxes to check during your search for a pet-friendly apartment in Gainesville. You’ll want to ask a few important questions before you sign your lease to be sure that your future apartment is a good fit for you and your furry family member.
Are there any weight or breed restrictions? Apartment weight restrictions on dogs can range from 25-75 lbs. depending on the apartment’s insurance policy, and the apartment will ask for a copy of your pet’s most recent veterinary records to verify your pet’s breed and weight. Restrictions vary by apartment community, so you must ask this question at each individual location.
Are there any pet fees or monthly pet rent? You can expect to pay a $25-50/month pet at any apartment in Gainesville. Additionally, apartments will charge either a pet deposit or pet fee upon move-in. The distinction between “deposit” and “fee” is very important. A pet deposit may be returned to you upon move out pending the condition of your apartment while a fee will not be returned regardless of the apartment’s condition.
How many pets can I have in my apartment? Most apartments in Gainesville limit the number of animals that can live in an apartment home. If you have 2 or more animals, you’ll definitely want to double check that you’re not over the limit.
Overall, make sure that the apartment community you choose is somewhere you see yourself being happy. Do your research, talk to the locals and weigh all of your options. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the exciting adventure that awaits you. Our team at Swamp Rentals can’t wait to help you find your perfect apartment match. Welcome home!