First timer on Airbnb and scared that you’re going to end up booking a dump? Have no fear, for Popspoken is here to save you from pulling your hair out.

To be fair, I feel that Airbnb does a pretty ace job at curating and going through listings to ensure that the hosts are as legit as their apartments. Let’s be real: who wants to spend $XXX on a shitty bed in an inconvenient location?

Now, finding that perfect apartment is as hard as finding the perfect man. (Not that I have found mine, but you get my drift.)

That being said you’re going to have to go through a bunch of options – some look good, some don’t, some have that charming little country side personality and some are modern and seem a little cold. This is why the filters provided are essential when looking for a place to stay.

If you’re familiar with dating website OkCupid where you get to choose from a myriad of options to find your “perfect” man, you’ll realise that Airbnb works almost exactly the same. Here’s a step by step guide to booking the perfffff apartment while on a budget. (Unless…)

1. Can you afford an expensive date? The same thing goes for an apartment.

Music editor Evan and I set a budget of about $160 for two people for our 5 day stay in Manila, Philippines. After doing the math, we realised that we could only spend about SGD$30 – $40 a night.

2. Depending on trip itinerary (or your date’s place of residence), find the most convenient locale

(Remember to factor in transportation. Unless you do long-distance, in which case, go figure.)

When you type in ‘Manila, Philippines’ in the search bar along with the dates you’ll be in the country, you’ll get listings of apartments located in different parts of Manila. From the filters, you can go on to pick which part of the city you’d prefer to stay in. We picked ‘Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines’ which is the equivalent of Orchard Road. This also means that your search gets narrowed down to the apartments in that area.

3. Know your budget (very important!)

You already know how much you need to set aside to spend per night — this will greatly help your accommodation choices. The beauty of Airbnb is that the filters provided are so useful. You can slim down your search by picking what you need – e.g. wifi, private room, kitchen… the list goes on.

4. The fun part: check reviews and user photos

The first thing I do is look at the pictures and overall reviews. Go through the 3 or 4 pages of listings and seek out the listings with the most reviews. It also helps to see if the reviews have more than 4 stars. Airbnb requires a lot of trust from both parties. So if you can trust the host to provide for your stay, the host can trust you to not thrash his or her house.

5. Look out for the little things

The things to look out for when you are viewing pictures are the little details that make or break your vacation. A good example would be a mouldy toilet. Some Airbnb pictures are verified by Airbnb photographers that go down to the host’s apartment to take pictures for listings. So if the toilet is super-clean and has a verified stamp on it, you don’t need any second thoughts and are good to go.

Remember the rule of thumb during online dating? It also applies to Airbnb bookings: If the description doesn’t fit your personality or needs, keep searching. You’ll eventually find one that’s just right.

6. Contact the host (no excessive flirting, please)

It’s also a good time for you to speak with your host (hello, stranger!) to clarify any niggling doubts about the apartment and its surroundings.

7. Repeat the process for 2-3 listings before narrowing to one suitable location

Remember to keep your traveling partner in check with the process! (This is why friends are a much-needed resource when approving future online dates — they know you best.)

8. Follow the payment instructions and wait for your host to approve your stay!

(You don’t pay for a partner so this step is not part of the online dating process, obviously.)

Note: Prepare a scan of your passport/ID/driving license as Airbnb has a government ID verification badge feature. There is also an Airbnb service fee. (Un)fortunately, it’s the price to pay for convenience.

I hope that this helps you in finding your perfect apart-man-t.

Stay tuned to find out more about our travels in Philippines at http://popspoken.com/wanderland.

Popspoken’s accommodation in the Philippines for the Wanderland Music & Arts Festival is sponsored by Airbnb.