Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mantra of the Day: It's Better than in New York

Apartment hunting sucks.

My challenge at the moment is to try to find a place that's available now that seems like a reasonable rent for the salary I expect to be able to earn in a neighborhood that's convenient to the areas where I hope to work, but that's a lot of unknowns in play. No telling how long it will take me to get a permanent job, or where it will be.

I've been concentrating on the West Slope area because it's so easy to get everywhere from here, but the rents in this neighborhood are at the upper end of what I was hoping to be able to pay. It's still less than what I paid in New York (although not by much), but of course what you get for your buck (washer/dryer, dishwasher, fireplace, deck, new appliances, room to turn around) is a lot more bang.

I'm eager to get my own place, for all the obvious reasons, but I'm also nervous about getting "stuck" somewhere with an inconvenient commute (again, nothing's going to be worse than an hour on the A train) or committing myself to a rent that could be more of my paycheck than I'd like to part with. (Not to mention, right now there aren't any paychecks.) There are cheaper places around, but they can be kind of sketchy. I don't envision myself fitting in well in a complex with a lot of low-riders with tinted windows, chrome hub-caps and BadBoy decals. Or a lot of tricycles. (Shudder.)

After work yesterday I just drove around neighborhoods I like and inquired at nice-looking complexes. One really great place has nothing open at the moment, but they said they could take my number and call me, so I gave the young woman my information. When I said my name, she squinted at me and said, "I think I know you...did you go to Cedar Park?" "Ermmm...yeah..." "It's me, [name redacted]!" She looked marvelous. Small world.

Then I went to look at an apartment in a brand new development that is still being finished, in an absolutely perfect location. Ten minutes to downtown by car (either freeway or two different "back ways" over the hill) and within walking distance of the light rail.

I explained to the leasing agent that I had just moved here from New York, and she said, "Oh? What part?" "The City," I said. "Yeah, what part?" "Ummm...Washington Heights?" "Get out! I used to live at 184th and Broadway!" Seriously, the agent and I had lived on the same A train stop. She wasn't missing Washington Heights, either, and had come back for all the same reasons I did.

The apartment was awesome. Chic, simple, modern and urban. Great light, great layout, and the biggest damn bathroom I've ever seen. It was really exactly what I wanted. I filled out an application.

Overnight, however, my mom dug up some comments posted on a website by current and former tenants of the place: a consistent litany of complaints about poor construction, thin walls, unresponsive management and a chronic mold problem. I decided it was too much money to risk, so I backed out this morning. (Thanks, mom!)

I called another place I had visited and asked if the unit was still available. It was, so I went to look at it again and then I applied for that one. It's huge (812 sq. ft), has lots of light and a great layout, and really feels more like a small house than an apartment. It's still on the high end of what I want to pay, and it's not my first choice of location, but it's still closer in than most of the other options.

Right now I'm just throwing it all up into the cosmos and hoping the pieces fall down in the right place. I'll know early next week if my application was approved; there is, naturally, some hesitation over the fact that I don't have an income. If it falls through, then I guess we'll just have to see how the cats and dogs get along together and we'll all just have to deal with a cramped house for a bit.


Jade said...

Someone we went to school with also works at a hotel off of 185th that we like to stay in when we visit my folks. It was very odd to be addressed by my maiden name just as I was thinking... "hmmm... she looks familiar..." Seems like a lot of people didn't spread out very far down there.

Quinn said...

hey! I currently live 3 miles from my parents' house... but I spent 14 years at least two thousand miles away first. Does that count as "spread out"?

Geez. 14 years. I'm old.

Jess said...

Just make sure there's room for guests! :)

Okay, fine, we'll stay in a hotel!