There really are ways of searching for a rental that don't involve Craigslist. If bare-bones classifieds have ceased to delight and the search for a rental is becoming increasingly frustrating, here are six other options, none of which are expensive or particularly difficult.
Other apartment search sites: Sites like Lovely and Padmapper aggregate apartment listings from several different sites so that apartment hunters aren't stuck bouncing between rental sites, hoping not to miss out. Though it's true that sometimes listings that aren't categorized correctly don't make it to aggregators, they're good tools that make it easier to look in several different places at once.
Classifieds in local newsblogs and newsletters: Philly is blessed with a wealth of neighborhood news blogs and print newsletters. Sites like West Philly Local and the South Philly Review are great places to find ads for sublets and for rentals owned by mom and pop landlords. There are also several print publications, like the Fishtown Star and their classifieds are worth a look too.
Start Scouting: Renters with a pretty good idea of where they want to live can sometimes find great rentals simply by scouting the area and looking for "For Rent" signs. The number of landlords who don't advertise online varies by neighborhood, but there are usually a few "For Rent" signs around. This method also cuts down on the amount of unpleasant surprises waiting to greet renters at a showing: scouting on foot lets renters evaluate the block, the exterior condition of the building, and get a quick read on how big the rental is.
Social media: This requires a bit more research than other methods, but renters can follow property management companies that do business in their target area on twitter. They can also follow realtors and rental buildings, and be among the first to hear what's available for rent. Renters who are looking for a sublet or a roommate can try to find someone by posting on their own social media accounts and seeing whether there's a friend of a friend who can help them out.
Getting a Realtor: Many renters think that they're too broke to get a realtor, and don't work with one because they don't want to pay a fee on top of the rent of their new place. However, in Philly, most realtors receive their commissions from the landlord looking to rent. Though there are exceptions to every rule, renters can clearly state to prospective realtors that they want to find rentals where the landlord will pay the commission.