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Last updated: April 1, 2021 • Real Estate Market

The Renter’s Guide to Moving to Winston-Salem

Known as the “City of Arts and Innovation,” Winston-Salem is an eclectic city where everyone is sure to find something for themselves. From the top-notch higher education options to the many employment opportunities at the top businesses that call Winston-Salem home, there’s no shortage of reasons why you would want to move here. 

Regardless of whether you’re moving for school, for your job, or to start anew, there are some aspects you should become familiar with to help you find the best rental apartment in Winston-Salem for your needs. This guide will give you an overview of the local rental market, as well as some general tips on finding an apartment and moving in.  

About Winston-Salem

downtown winston salem

Located in the northern part of North Carolina, Winston-Salem is the fifth most populous city in the state, yet it is a mixture of big-city innovation and North Carolina’s small-town charm, given its care for the local heritage and culture. As the result of a union between two cities, Winston-Salem carries twice the heritage and pride in its development. It has been quickly developing, attracting fruitful investment, especially in the downtown area, where hotels, restaurants, and new apartments are being built. The many universities’ neighborhoods are also continuously growing, as many students choose the city for its top-tier education.

As for employment opportunities, you’ll find many thriving businesses in Winston-Salem. HanesBrands, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Reynolds American, and ISP Sports are among the companies with headquarters. Meanwhile, top employers in the region include the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, as well as Wells Fargo and Wake Forest University, so there is no shortage of options for those seeking professional development. The major industries of Winston-Salem are healthcare and social assistance, trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services, and manufacturing, making this city one of the best places to live in North Carolina.

Local climate 

Winston-Salem has cold winters and hot, humid summers. Average highs reach around 51 degrees during winter and about 89 degrees during summers. Meanwhile, lows average at approximately 28 degrees during winter and 67 degrees during summer. Overall, it’s a pleasant climate year-round, but the city is especially lovely during spring and fall.  

Arts & Innovation

film administration building in winston salem

Winston-Salem is dubbed the City of Arts and Innovation for a reason. It is home to many arts centers celebrating local creators and culture, including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, and an extensive Arts District featuring many galleries and workshops. You’ll also find many schools and attractions focused on theater and the performing arts, including the University of North Carolina Schools of the Arts, The Little Theater of Winston-Salem, the Piedmont Opera Theater, and many others.  

As for the innovation part of its nickname, Winston-Salem is home to the Innovation Quarter, an urban district governed by the Wake Forest School of Medicine. The area is home to over 90 companies focused on research and development, primarily within the biomedical sciences field, but also in digital media and clinical services.  

Finding Your Apartment

apartment search online concept

To begin your apartment hunt on the right foot, start by creating a budget and educating yourself on the local rental market. This way, you’ll know what to expect from your search and how to get a rental for the best price. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Don’t let excitement overwhelm you, and carefully research the property and the area to make sure you aren’t facing a rental scam. To make sure you steer clear of malevolent people, try to use apartment search websites that offer 100% verified listings to make sure what you’re seeing comes directly from the true owner of the apartment. Make sure to pay attention to other red flags in an apartment as well.

Real estate overview 

According to December 2020 data, the average rent in Winston-Salem is around $900 per month. However, more affordable neighborhoods such as Bowen Park or Cardinal Acres have an average rent of around $670/month. The renter-owner distribution leans towards homeownership, with a 37% share of the households being occupied by renters. Apartment prices in Winston-Salem are significantly lower than the national average and more affordable than other big cities in NC, such as Raleigh, Durham or Charlotte.  

Neighborhoods

luxury houses on a street

There are many neighborhoods in Winston-Salem for you to choose from, which is why we suggest you should reach out to the local realtors to help you find the best rent. West End is a very popular choice for many, because of the West End Historic District and the many residential areas it comprises. Ardmore is another popular neighborhood—and one of the largest ones in the city—that also features a historic district. 

The downtown area has seen a strong revitalization, and what were once warehouses and industrial buildings are now being converted to urban, modernized lofts. Just southeast of this center of the city is the Holly Avenue neighborhood, one of the smallest in the city, but filled with bungalows and duplexes. Olde Vineyard is another popular, diverse neighborhood, with an eclectic mix of dwellings and many shopping centers and amenities in close proximity. There are many others, so make sure you research them and find the best fit for you.

Browsing apartments

man search apartments concept

When you start browsing for an apartment, you should first determine what your priorities are and if you need a downtown rental or a suburb. If you already have a job and need to be close to your office, consider commute times. Although Winston-Salem is not a commute-heavy place, rush hours will still involve crowded roads. If you’re working remotely, consider going for an area where prices are a bit lower or where you will have all the amenities you need nearby. You could use a rent calculator tool to help you determine your budget, price ranges and size ranges you should be looking at.

Another essential aspect is understanding how much space you need. Are you renting with your family, with roommates, or by yourself? How much time are you going to spend indoors and how many rooms do you need? Will you require a separate space for your office? All these questions are essential when determining the size of your next rental.  

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Signing the lease

house lease agreement

After you’ve found the perfect fit, it’s time to discuss the lease. This is the moment when you should ask your landlord all the questions you have to make sure you’re both on the same page. Discuss aspects related to your security deposit and other fees, as well as the rules and regulations of the community or the area. Here are some examples of the questions you could ask:

  • Is my security deposit refundable?
  • What could result in me losing my security deposit?
  • What constitutes the normal wear and tear?
  • Are there penalties for breaking the lease early?
  • Are utilities included?
  • When is my rent due?
  • How are payments made? (Here, you could also inquire about an online portal for the property and log in details, should that be the case.)
  • How are maintenance requests being handled?
  • What is the guest policy?
  • Are there additional costs for my pet (if the apartment is pet-friendly)?
  • Is renter’s insurance required?

Especially if you’re coming in from another city or state, this is the perfect chance to discuss local issues, get to know the details of your surrounding area, as well as find out some real numbers about the cost of living there, from utilities to groceries or transport. Make sure you discuss all these aspects with the local realtors in Winston Salem NC.

Moving In

mortgage family and real estate concept

After you’ve signed your lease, it’s time to move into your new place. This is a complex process, so make sure you set aside time for it, either by taking a day or two off from work or getting someone to help you. If you have many belongings—especially furniture—you might want to consider hiring a moving company. However, make sure the one you do get is up to date with sanitation and distancing rules. If you do hire movers, try to schedule your move for the middle of the week to make sure you find available hours and get the best price. Before moving in, clean and disinfect your new place to ensure it’s safe and ready to receive you. If you do not have the time to go through the entire home yourself, you can always hire a cleaning company.

Exploring the Area 

Finally, you’ve settled into your new home! Now it’s time to go out and explore the areas around you. Winston-Salem is a beautiful city with plenty of green space around it and the Blue Ridge Mountains, which boast gorgeous views and great hiking opportunities. During summers, a 4-hour road trip will get you right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, where you can enjoy the perfect day in the sun. You can also visit the close-by large cities of Raleigh and Charlotte when needed. Of course, there are many spots you can enjoy inside the city, where you can immerse yourself in the culture and customs of the place. 

We hope this guide has proven useful and you are now ready for your move to Winston-Salem. Remember, it’s very important to educate yourself about the rental market, because each city is different, and you should be prepared to adapt as needed. A city of both arts and science, nature, and progress, Winston-Salem is ready to welcome you home.

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