The first time I had to hunt for an apartment was last summer, but I’ll admit that the circumstances were a bit different. That summer I was looking for a two month rental that was furnished, and wasn’t too particular about the details since I was only there for such a short time. Fast forward to now where I have commenced the actual apartment hunt - trying to find the place I am going to live on my own, for real. I could live there for one year, or multiple years…who knows!
I told myself I wasn’t going to be too picky when it came to apartment hunting. My roommate and I decided that we wanted to spend under $1500 each (including utilities), live walking distance to the metro, in a certain area of town, safe, and have laundry somewhere on the premise. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds pretty reasonable. Call me easy going!
My roommate and I were in good shape, we had a simple set of criteria and then I was off to the races to Craigslist, Zillow, Trulia, and Hot pads. I quickly realized that most places in the area I wanted to live were high rises, which I’m not opposed to but also not enthusiastic about. Other things to note that I realized or learned include:
- There are hidden expenses such as parking and HOA fees (why does an apartment complex need HOA fees? this isn’t the suburbs people!)
- Don’t click the extra filters on the websites because they might exclude units that actually have said criteria. For example, if I clicked “laundry on premise” it might exclude units that actually have it but didn’t mention it in the bio.
- My kitchen will look nothing like the ones do in Fixer Upper or Flip or Flop (…and back to reality I go). Time to trade in stainless steel for grungy tile.
- Trying to find an apartment under $1500 a month is actually difficult, but it may just be that I’m apartment hunting during an off-time of year.
- There are so many small things that can make an apartment look ten times better or worse - carpeting vs. hardwood, room AC units, a cramped kitchen, blinds, window locations. Now I understand why everyone on House Hunters is so damn picky!
- You need to be quick about contacting places you’re even remotely interested in to have a chance at getting them - at least in a big city like DC turnover is very quick.
- Communication is a major key when you’re living with a roommate. You have to make sure you’re on the same page and want the same things!
- Trade-offs will happen. You may get a nicer place but live farther out. Beyond making a set of criteria, figure out which things are most important to you and which you are willing to sacrifice.
This week I will be heading down to tour apartments after I set up 11 appointments with a variety of units. Some are in better locations, some are pricier, and some are smaller, but I think it’s important to tour a variety of places to get a feel for what we want exactly. I think that my preferences may change a little once I’m standing in units looking around.
I’m still bummed that I won’t be living like a queen quite yet, but I’d rather save money and have an emergency fund or extra money to invest. I’ll post an update after this weekend, as I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more through touring!