Moving is a massive pain in the backside. The actual process of moving your belongings from one domicile to another is difficult, but can be hired out to a certain extent. The process of finding a place to live, however, is much harder to outsource. Apartment hunting, especially in popular urban areas such as San Francisco and New York City, can be positively maddeningly difficult.

Competition is rife, scam postings abound, and simply trolling Craigslist’s apartment listings is a slow process that can leave you annoyed, if it doesn’t make you scream. Adding to the fun is the fact that running simple searches for apartments generates results that are unhelpful at best, and often downright false.

Having just moved, I’m quite familiar with the above process. Happily (not for me, it’s too late, I’ve already run the gauntlet), there is a service online called PlaceOfMine that will take much of the pain out of apartment hunting when you need to scoot to a new place.

It’s somewhat similar to PadMapper, the other apartment search tool that is worth its salt, but goes further. Their interfaces are quite similar, so I recommend using both. With PlaceOfMine, you can sort apartments by pet policy, neighborhood, and any of a plethora of individual features (fan?). That’s well and good, and similar to PadMapper, but PlaceOfMine has a heatmap feature that is downright cool.

To wit, here’s the ‘nightlife’ heatmap of the area around my place:

2012 07 30 13h19 13 520x284 Moving? PlaceOfMine is an apartment hunting tool that you need to check out

You can run similar searches for other topics, such as schools, shopping, and more. It’s downright cool. The site also has a strong list of apartments. Craigslist is clamping down on usage of its data, so PlaceOfMine, in its words, draws listings from “10,000 listing sites, forums, newspaper classifieds, and individual property management websites.”

Launched in February, PlaceOfMine is growing at 32% month over month. Not too shabby.

Interestingly, PlaceOfMine is a project out of the company Cazoodle, which was born out of a team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The company builds what it calls ‘specialized search engines,’ all of which are based on its core technology that the head of Cazoodle, Dr. Chang, created. Another search engine that the team has built focuses on looking for grants.

Apartment hunting is difficult, but adding PlaceOfMine to your roster of tools might lessen the load. And if not, heck, there’s always Craigslist, right?

Top Image Credit: Margaret W. Carruthers