Wow, that wasn’t so bad.

My trip to Chicago was very productive. Unbelievably, I found a place on the first afternoon, with the help of a very professional and efficient agent at a free apartment finding service. I met with my agent at noon, and we went over my budget and priorities. She told me that I would only be able to find a studio for my price range in the area I wanted to live, so I compromised on that, but told her I’d really like to find a large studio. She went through her listings and wrote down three promising places, but she was almost certain I’d choose the second because it was such a good value for the money, and was in a prime location with a reputable property manager. She said we should visit those three, and if I didn’t like them, we could go through some other listings. So, she and my sister and I set out in her car for the first place. At the first building, there were two slightly different layouts available. Both studios had gorgeous hardwood floors and French-doors leading into the closet. Both had eat-in kitchens, and walk-in closets. One of the apartments was newly renovated and had new kitchen appliances, but the other was slightly larger. The building was in a cute, green courtyard on a quiet street in Lakeview. The bus was close by, but it was a bit of a hike to the El, so the location was only so-so. I really liked both apartments, and was seriously considering them, but first, I had two more places to see.

Next, we went to the apartment that she expected would be my favorite, and she was right. The property manager, who lives in the building, met us out front. He was a friendly guy, who clearly keeps the building up well (he had just finished planting flowers), and I got a good feeling from him. This building had an elevator and a laundry room in the basement. The apartment I was shown was still occupied (until June) by a sloppy guy, so I had to look past the horrendous mess, and focus on the apartment itself. It was larger than the first two, had an even bigger kitchen, and also a small half-room that is intended to be a dining room, but which I will section off and use for my bed. Although I wanted hardwood, this apartment was carpeted, but fortunately, the manager promised me new carpet when he cleaned the place at the end of the month. The closet is huge, and the main living area is large enough for a couch, armchair, dining table, tv, etc. Heat, water, and cooking gas are included in the rent, which leaves me responsible for only electricity and phone (there’s no AC, but I’m allowed to install a window unit). The apartment is on a beautiful tree-lined street in Lincoln Park, 10 minutes from the El, and half a block from the bus, shopping, restaurants, and coffee shops. The park is 2 blocks away, and the Lake/beachfront is only 3 or 4 blocks away.

Finally, we went to a place just down the street that was about the same price because my agent wanted me to see what a good deal the 2nd place was in comparison. The first bad sign was a wide open front door. Also, the apartment was a ground/garden level, which would have made me feel a little unsafe. The studio itself was small and dark, and had only a tiny kitchenette. We took one look, and agreed to cross that one off the list immediately. The agent gave my sister and I a moment to talk about it, and we both agreed that the 2nd apartment was perfect; the building was in good shape, the apartment was large with a nice layout, the manager seemed to be a good guy, and the location was perfect. We went back to the agent’s office, where I signed a lease application and paid the 1-month security deposit. I’ll be moving in early, and I got a deal to only pay for half of June, and then on July 1st, I’ll start my regular monthly rent payments. I’m supposed to hear back today whether my lease app was approved (hopefully so, because I don’t have a cosigner), and then it will be official. This went much more smoothly than I expected, and I think that’s because I went with a great service, and I happened to get one of the veteran agents who really knew her stuff.

Check back soon for an update once I hear back about the leasing application. And look below for an approximate diagram of my new apartment’s floor plan (there are some small changes, but you get the idea):

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