First Apartment Hunting Trip Just Raises More Questions

I’m so excited to be blogging for MyFirstApartment!  Let me begin by saying that I’m getting married this summer, and this is my first apartment hunt. The wedding is in June and everything is a little crazy right now.  I’ve already dropped a class this semester, so I’ll be taking two online classes during the summer, as I’m getting married. That should be fun. Since W (my soon-to-be husband) and I live in different cities in Texas, neither of which is Austin, we took a road trip to scope out the city and its rental scene.  We looked around the UT campus, and then went to see a few apartments. I had tried to call ahead to make appointments, but most places seemed to be ok with us just walking in.

The first apartment complex we visited was super cheap, but I think the floor plan was like 400 square feet. And on top of that, on the plan they had drawn disproportionately tiny furniture to make the place seem bigger. The apartment was so tiny and suffocating that W was like, ‘No way. WE ARE NOT LIVING IN A CLOSET!’  Sure, it won’t be fun living in a super tiny apartment, but I think we should keep our expectations low; we don’t exactly have money flooding in. Our budget is probably at the low end for Austin, since I would prefer getting a place in the $500’s a month.  I know we are going to have to settle for a 1BR, but if there is an affordable place with a smaller second bedroom, I would love to turn that into an office/study. W is going to find a job, and I’ll be super busy with both graduate school and decorating the new place. A spare room would really help out!

At the second place the agent had insisted in an appointment and was quite prissy about it, so I expected something great. I even made W drive fast because I didn’t want to be late. We pulled in front of the office, took one look at the place and turned around. It was a disaster. The paint and wood were peeling off the buildings, weeds were overgrown, and there were scary people hanging around- just a totally sketchy place. Their price had been really good, so that was disappointing.

W had never gone apartment hunting at a decent complex before, so the golf carts at the third place were really fun for him. Not going to lie, that’s my favorite part too!  The realtor lady must have thought we were nuts because we had way too much fun riding in the back of her golf cart.

One of the apartments we saw was also really small, but it had sort of a wider open kitchen (though I doubt I’ll be in there too much), and beautiful hardwood floors. Somehow wooden floors completely open up a room and make it seem more inviting and instead of cramped, it seems cozy. So it’s a silly thing, but I really hope the final apartment we choose will have wooden floors. I think the furniture will look much nicer against the wood as well, or on top of a little rug. I hate the generic beige apartment carpets.

W really wants to be on the second floor and I just don’t understand. I hate climbing up stairs and having to be careful not to thump on the floors so the downstairs neighbors don’t get annoyed.  But I sort of get it since W is one of those people who’d get annoyed.

My car broke down in front of another apartment complex and we had to get it towed – I took it as a bad omen for the place, even though it was an ‘affordable income’ type community so the prices were good.

Another thing that really matters to me is the management. Having moved through more than seven apartments with my family growing up, I realized that places where the management had attitude problems, or weren’t particularly helpful, did not end up being good places to live. It really sucks calling the office to have maintenance come fix a toilet or leak, and having them take a few weeks.

In the end, we can’t seriously consider apartments till W finds a job, since proximity to that will be an important factor. And several other decisions must be made. What’s the absolute maximum we are willing to pay? What’s the minimum size apartment we are willing to live in – at least for a year? Can we afford to be picky about neighborhoods and management? Upstairs, downstairs? Wooden floors (yes!)?

I guess we’ll see how it all turns out!


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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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