As Wedding Approaches, Apartment Hunting Continues in Austin

The wedding is less than three weeks away. Most of the cards have been sealed and mailed, the registry completed, and now there is just an enormous amount of planning to do. I’ll be spending the summer post-wedding with my husband’s family before moving to Austin in August.  Thankfully that will only be a couple of hours away from Austin, which means I can spend July in full on apartment-hunting-and-furniture-buying mode. 

So, the last time I went to Austin for our initial survey, we found some nice places and got a feel for how the process works. We called up and made appointments with certain apartment complexes or did some walk-ins if they didn’t require appointments. Because my future husband and I are in our early twenties and not nearly as responsible looking as some of the middle aged couples that walked in, we ended up sort of waiting on couches for a while, twiddling our thumbs and admiring the generic furniture in the lobby. I had a folder with me and with each apartment I organized their pamphlets, floor plans, and brochures on either left or right side, depending on how likely the apartment was for us, or if it was out of our range but nice to consider.  I also took notes on each respective brochure as the rental agent answered our questions and I wrote down my reactions as we walked through each apartment. This helped me organize my thoughts later when we got home and opened the folders. It’s easy to forget how you liked an apartment after you go to more than five and jotting notes to yourself can help jog your memory.

I made a point to ask about income requirements. Most wanted the monthly income to be three times the monthly rent, and some wanted it to be double the rent. The affordable housing apartments had rules more along the lines of a maximum yearly salary you could make to be eligible. We also asked about their pet policies, lease lengths, if they have parking and how many cars we can have, and how soon they would have a one bedroom available. Most of them said they wouldn’t know until a month before our move-in date because it all depends on when the previous tenants give their notice and move out.

That first experience gave us a feel for apartment hunting, but looking back most of the ones we saw were either not cheap enough or not close enough to the university.  So now I’m trying two new things.  First, I applied to the university housing complex that is reserved for graduate students and married couples and, though tiny, these  apartments are super affordable. Generally in the $500’s a month range. But the wait-list is incredibly long and while I really hope we get approved, I’m not going to count on it.

My second strategy at the moment is emailing a few apartment hunting services.  These services are nearly always free in Austin because the apartment owners pay the broker.  The downside is that these services will be biased towards certain complexes and won’t have the most comprehensive list available, but it may really help me narrow down my choices and find a good fit. I emailed my monthly rent range and location preferences and now am waiting to see if any good suggestions come up. I’ve also been checking out some websites like hotpads.com which helps you find apartments through detailed search criteria and displays them on a map so you can easily judge their locations. I’ve also been looking on the city websites and some realtor’s sites to read neighborhood descriptions that go though crime rates, affordability, and histories of various neighborhoods- all of which can be enormously helpful.

I just hope we find a place and can move in at the beginning of August so I can spend that month buying furniture and setting up my apartment before classes start the last week of that month. For now, I’m going to prepare for my wedding and sit at my computer, gleeful every time my registry informs me that someone else just bought a gift. A blender! Oh, the joy!

Author My First Apartment
Zainab

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Zainab moved to Austin, Texas, after getting married in June 2012. She is now doing her graduate studies in Urban Planning at the University of Texas in Austin (go Longhorns!). While Zainab has lived in almost ten different apartments with her parents, and subleased once for a semester with roommates. She is now living in her second apartment, after fire destroyed her first one. She enjoys volunteering, drawing, and writing in her free time.

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