Hunting for an apartment is hard work, but here are some pointers to help you find your perfect living space:

* Before beginning your apartment search, pick up all the clothes your girlfriend threw out into the street.

* Always meet the landlord before signing the lease. That way, you can get a feel for whether he's the kind of guy who will put miniature cameras everywhere.

* Wear your special apartment-hunting fedora, so landlords will know you're serious.

* Craigslist.org can be a reliable source for urban apartment hunters and people who like to get peed on.

* Often, landlords request a deposit equal to the first month's rent. This is known as "asshole money."

* Remember that, as with any sort of hunting, it's important to bring the right size gun.

* Living above a bar might seem cool, but it's wise to check out the jukebox before signing the lease.

* When viewing a potential apartment, be sure to touch the doorknob before going in. If it's hot, don't open it. The backdraft could blow you clear across the street.

* Learn what the ads actually mean. For example, "close to public transportation" can mean "close to people who use public transportation," and "charming" often means "an 80-year-old live-in landlady who will tromp around the building in nothing but a rotting nylon nightgown."

* Never underestimate the importance of hardwood floors and exposed brick. If you do not have the budget to afford an apartment that boasts these features, consider living in a coal chute.

* Many real-estate agents and brokers will try to take advantage of you, as if you were some kind of chump. Inform them early on that you're not some kind of chump.