As a former realtor, you are going about this the wrong way. A few facts you need to know:
1. Furnished rentals are always more expensive than empty rentals because you are paying rent for the furniture + rent for the apartment / unit. So you are paying double rent.
2. While you are living in the vacation rental, you need to spend time exploring neighborhoods and other necessities to choose or eliminate neighborhoods that you want to live in? You have already wasted 3 months. You need to do as much research now thru Sept. to eliminate places you don't want to live in.
3. You can rent an empty rental for 1 year if you need to spend more time exploring the area.
4. To do your research quickly and accurately, follow these steps: visit the local police departments and ask officers about safety, crime statistics in different neighborhoods. Even ask about sex offenders and the different levels. Not all sex offenders are criminal. You need to beware that a case involving a 20 yr. old college student having sex with a 17 yr. old can turn into a rape case if the 17 yr. old lied about her age or if the parents pressed charges. It can also be if a 16 yr. old lied about her age and had sex with an 18 yr. old boy and the girl's parents pressed charges.
In addition to the police, visit local public schools and talk to parents, school officials about their neighborhood, schools, etc. How do they feel about the quality of local schools?
Go to the U.S. Census Bureau's website - http://www.census.gov and type in the city or zip code for different areas. Read the data the census bureau has.
Visit neighborhoods at different times of the day and week. What do you observe?
Visit local grocery stores, diners, etc. Start talking to residents. What do they think of their neighborhoods? Explain that you're thinking of moving here.
Go to the local city or town halls. Ask local officials about the neighborhoods.
Attend Open Houses. Start looking at homes that interest you.
If you will need financing, start contacting lenders to get pre approved.
All of the above can be done within a month. You have until Sept. Start today.