Yes, you can find your dream apartment on Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to look for a new place to live, if you're quick enough. Most the great listings get gone in a hurry. But with this trick, you can be among the first to know when a new listing meets your criteria.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
3 min read
Chris Monroe/CNET

Searching for a new apartment or house for rent is usually a nightmare. You can spend hours or even days trawling for the perfect place, only to learn that someone else just signed for it.

Craigslist can be an immensely helpful tool for finding the right place -- those gems that aren't even listed on Zillow or Apartments.com. But you have to be quick on the draw.

Fortunately, there's a way you can jump to the front of the line and be among the first to know when new rentals matching your criteria are listed. Here's how.

Step 1: Create a search on Craigslist

Craigslist may not be your first choice for finding a new place to live, but there are likely dozens -- maybe even hundreds or thousands -- of listings in your area that might be worth checking out. Its apartment and rental house search tool is fairly robust, and it lets you filter results based on what's important to you.

Begin your search by going to craigslist.org and selecting your city. Then:

  • Under housing, click on apts/housing.
  • To the left, you will see several filters that will narrow your search results, such as only showing listings with images or those posted on the current day. Set a maximum search radius from a zip code, a minimum and maximum price, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage requirements and other amenities.
  • Filter to show only the housing types you're interested in -- apartments, condos, duplexes, house, townhouse, etc.
  • Filter by any necessary amenities, such as included washer and dryer or an attached garage.
Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

After you have selected all your filters and search terms, click the Refresh Search button in the bottom left. Then copy the URL from the address bar and keep it handy. You will need this for the next step.

Enlarge Image
Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

Step 2: Create the alert system

Next, go to ifttt.com or open the IFTTT app on your mobile device and begin creating a new Applet. Applets are what IFTTT now calls what used to be known as recipes. With Applets, you can create custom automations which enable multiple devices and online services to communicate and work together.

To create an Applet from the desktop site, hover over your username in the upper right corner and click New Applet. On mobile, switch to the My Applets tab and tap the plus sign in the upper right corner.

Search for Craigslist and select New post from Search as the trigger (or this) for the Applet. Paste your Craigslist search URL in the provided field and click Next.

For the action (or that) part of the Applet, you have several options.

  • You can send yourself an email or text message for notifications on new listings that match your search criteria.
  • You can append new listings to a note in Evernote or OneNote, or save the listings to Pocket.
  • Or, my personal favorite, add new listings to a new row in a spreadsheet using the Google Drive channel. Just remember to turn on the notifications for when the recipe runs, or you won't get notified.

Step 3: Sit back and let the listings find you

Once you've added an action to your IFTTT applet, any new listings that match your search criteria will be sent to you within minutes of going live, ensuring you to be among the first to see the listing.

Other uses

While very handy for helping you find an apartment or house to rent, this same IFTTT Applet can be used for enhanced notifications for practically anything you want to find on Craigslist.

Just create a different search for something like a job or a used car. Filter the results, copy the search URL and create another IFTTT Applet using the Craigslist channel.