Here’s something nobody teaches you in high school or college: Shopping for an apartment is the worst, most stressful thing you will do outside of your every day job.
To make a long story short, my girlfriend and I moved 1,500 miles last fall, and being that we work in a career path where you don’t make a lot of money to start, we didn’t have much saved, and what we did all went to shipping out stuff those 1,500 miles.
That meant having to shop for an apartment in our new town online, and not getting to see them in person, because hanging out in a hotel and getting to tour 4-5 places in-person was not an option due to our financial restraints.
Cut to the day we arrive the place we picked out…and it’s a dump. The fences are falling down, the painted on the trim for the windows instead of putting up actual trim, there was dog poop all over our patio, windows that wouldn’t lock, a sliding door to the patio that was almost impossible to lock, and a window had a giant hole in it.
This was the apartment they moved us to because the other one we were originally supposed to move into wasn’t ready. I can’t imagine how bad the other one was if this is where they put us in its place.
Since then we’ve been handed roughly five eviction notices despite never once being late on any bills, had our spare bathroom flood from under the wall due to a broken pipe, and then had water leak through the vent in our ceiling because the idiot neighbors upstairs didn’t use a shower curtain.
The only benefits of this place is that the rent is dirt cheap, and there’s a liquor store and Whataburger literally next door.
Well after roughly eight months of living there and with our lease expiring in a few months, they sent out renewal sheets. So rather than immediately re-sign, we decided to go searching for a new place, this time in-person so we could get a better feel for how other options might be.
If you live in a shitty apartment like we do, the first thing you do is start comparing everything to your current place, and trying to find just the smallest things that might tilt your decision in favor of this potential new place. Oh they have a little bit bigger kitchen that’s more open and a full pantry. Oh laundry is right off the bedroom, that’s nice. Oh the patio here is like twice the size of ours!
Crap like that, when all that really matters in an apartment is that the shit that’s supposed to work, works without incident.
The place we went to today was perfectly fine, slightly nicer in terms of amenities, location, kitchen, and a couple other things. But it was roughly $100 more each month for rent. So we figured, “Hmmm $1,200 for the year wouldn’t be too bad and not much worse than we are now, and it’s a better place.”
But then the reality of other math starts to kick in. There’s a deposit, and application fee, and pet fee, and then the cost of hiring movers again to get all of our shit over to this potential new place.
After doing some basic math, including the addition rent and all those other fees we would need to pay to get into this new place, it came out to around $3,000.
Again, we just dropped almost that much eight months ago to move 1,500 miles. We’re not about to do it again.
And so that’s where we sit, between the rock and the hard place of, stay at our shitty apartment where all of our stuff is set up and the rent is cheap, or, spend a combined months salary on moving roughly two miles to a slightly nicer place where maybe the damn pipes and walls won’t leak all over the bathroom floor.
We ended up re-signing with our current place, because the rent is too cheap to pass up, and we really don’t want to pack all our shit up and pay to have it moved for the second time in a year.
If you’ve made it this far and are wondering what the point of all this is, 1. It’s to vent, and 2. It’s to share some advice with you when apartment shopping, because many of you reading this will be graduating college soon, and there are far more apartments out there than the crappy ones your college town offers for $300 a month for a place you share with five other people.
If possible, never agree to a lease or sign anything sight-unseen. That’s how you end up in a craphole like we did. If you can, stay in a hotel for a night or two and look at places to figure out what’s the best option.
The day you move in, bring a camera and a piece of paper everywhere. Take note of every last thing that is wrong, I don’t care if it’s a pencil line on the wall that will erase. Write it down, because these jokers will do all they can to make sure you don’t get your deposit back.
Finally, keep track of every penny you give to your place in rent, utilities, parking, pet fees, whatever. Because they will look for any excuse to throw you out, keep your money and move the next people in.
I’m sorry if this sounds like a big downer, but it is. But once you get everything moved in and make a place your own, it’s really not that bad, even if your place does have a few problems.
So to sum it up, fuck apartment shopping. I need a beer.