How to find that first apartment, one more time…

It’s hard not to have an big ego when deciding where to get that first apartment. Mostly, because it’s such a mark of independence. It’s your name on that lease and it’s going to be YOUR apartment. But, if possible, try not to go all presidential–think what a mess the country’s in because someone got a little too machismo. That’s why he has advisors–and why we have parents. And, friends.

For example, take my friend J.

She, and four others were looking in NYC and J refused to look above 100th. In the meantime, they were having a horrific time trying to find a 5 bedroom that wouldn’t involve putting up walls to make two bedrooms into four. (They call them Rent-a-Walls in NYC!) Or, the apartments were decent but the broker fees were out of this world. When one of their roommates told J that she’d found an amazing apartment, huge living area, bedrooms, J was ecstatic–until she heard it was above 100th. She and another roommate considered lying, saying that they’d looked at it without actually doing the deed. But, feeling guilty, they gritted their teeth and took the subway north. The happy ending? They exited the subway, and came across a beautiful neighborhood. What’s more, they loved the apartment and are now paying $550 a month. Each. In NYC. A lack of hubris goes a long way.

Taking ego of the equation is a great first step. But, sometimes finding a good apartment takes many steps. Like, Masada-level steps. Like, hundreds. Okay, maybe not a hundred, but a degree of super-human persistence. A’s story in Chicago goes something like this:

She’d check the Reader in the morning and Craigslist at night. Nada. Dumps. Then, she tried the Apartment People, a company that takes clients from apartment to apartment. While the brokers were nice, they had nothing that suited her. From there, she tried the Apartment Finders. She hated the Apartment Finders, saying they took her to some of the filthiest apartments she’d ever seen. Plus, they wouldn’t call ahead so the current tenants were always disgruntled and surly. And, they hassled her with each apartment. At her wits end, she tried Craiglist once more and–voila!–finally a place to call home.

It’s important amidst the insanity to keep a level head on your shoulders. After much frustration you might crack and sign a lease for a place you aren’t totally in love with. Why do I say this? Because it happened to me. Yours truly almost got herself into a slippery situation, signing a lease for a lovely apartment–$200 more a month than what I pay now. It was my first apartment, and it was pretty and I got gunshy and nervous that I’d lose out if i didn’t make a snap decision. In fact, what I would have lost out on was an extra $200 a month. Luckily, the landlord gave the apartment to someone else.

I know that there are a lot of points in this lil post. You’ll learn even more on your own, I assure you. And, of course, I’d love to hear about it when you do. Just take a deep breath every now and then, k-doke?

Author My First Apartment
Alissa

Posted by

I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at GolinHarris, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.