5/6/13

Apartment Hunting: Reality Check


Hello from eastern Iowa!  I know I've been missing from the blogosphere for, well... too long.  So I figured I'd drop in and give you an update as to why.  To make a long story short: I landed a web content writing job two hours away from where I was living in Ames.  So in a mere two weeks I had to wrap things up at my social media job, pack up my attic apartment, and move all my stuff back home to my parents' place where it would stay until I found a place of my own.  

Last week was my first week on the new job.  It was a whirlwind week of training, navigating rush hour traffic, and a major apartment disappointment.

Let's zero in on the apartment disappointment.  I'd been "virtually" apartment hunting in the two weeks leading up to my new job, but it hadn't yielded many results.  And being unfamiliar with the new city, I wasn't actually sure what the good, quiet, safe neighborhoods were vs. the questionable areas.  I found one place that seemed really promising.  A one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a big old Victorian house in Cedar Rapids. I corresponded with the landlord back and forth, filled out the application, and really had my hopes up about the apartment.  After my first day of work, I went and checked it out.


I snapped some pictures while I was there.  


I liked that the kitchen was all white, included a newer fridge, and had a little window... but I wasn't crazy about the fact that the stove's pilot light kept needing re-lighting.  Plus, I can do without a dishwasher... but not without counter space.
The bedroom was a good size and had lots of natural lighting.
(Excuse the mess... the current tenants were moving out.)
The window in the bedroom was large, but it looked out onto a unkempt back alley behind
the houses in the neighborhood.   Also, the closet was reeeeally quite too small for me.
I did love the large, spacious living room with its huge windows.
But the windows once again overlooked an unkempt back yard. 
The bathroom was huge.  It included several things I'd
need to turn into projects---like the peeling blue/white wallpaper.   
But the windows inside the shower was a huge issue.  The paint was cracking and peeling and the windows
just didn't look like they were in very good condition due to all the moisture from the shower all the time.


It wasn't an all out nightmare, but it was a pretty big disappointment and reality check.  It did have some perks:

  • Victorian Charm.  Similar to my attic space but in better condition.  No cracked walls or ceilings.  Freshly painted.  Decent carpeting.  High ceilings.  Big windows.  Lots of character.

  • Tenants My Age.  It's easier to make friends in a new place when you have something like age in common with your neighbors.

  • Pretty Neighborhood.  Other lovely Victorians houses all around.  A playground across the street.
  • Near Downtown.  Proximity to lots of dining and shopping options.

  • Good Price.  Not inexpensive by any means, but not unreasonable either.  It was priced well and included most utilities.  

But that's where the similarities stopped and the drawbacks started piling up.


  • Lack of Parking.  There was hardly a spot big enough for my bulky SUV... let alone space for the vehicle of the visiting bf, friend, or family member.  Additionally, there was no street parking or additional parking lots nearby either.

  • Rear View Woes.  The apartment was located at the back of the second floor rather than the front.  this isn't a major tragedy, but I didn't find it aesthetically pleasing or particularly inspiring to have a scenic view of the junky back alley behind the house.

  • Pilot Lights. Apparently, the pilot light kept going out on the stove top.  I don't think that's a good thing.  And I have a super paranoia about things blowing up.

  • Troubled Waters.  During the showing, there was no water.  I guess it'd been turned off to fix some water pressure issues.  Water pressure and working faucets is always something I check when looking at a prospective new place.

  • Scary Cellar.  The washer and dryer was located in the basement, which was fine at my old place.  (The basement at my old place was finished and really not creepy considering it was a 100+ year old house.)  The basement in this place was totally unfinished, totally exposed, and totally creepy.  Looking at some of the wiring made me a little uneasy as well.

  • Worries in the 'Hood.  As quiet and charming as the block was, not-so-charming blocks were sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods.  The place was just a little too close to sketchy areas and downtown for my comfort.  This new city is two times the size of my cozy, familiar college town.  

  • Traffic Nightmare.  Getting to this place was an absolute nightmare.  Granted, it was rush hour, too... but one-way streets and road construction made getting around quite a hassle.  

  • Student Tenants.  The apartment was near a college, so full of student tenants.  While I don't object to living near people close to me in age, I do feel like I've outgrown the "college scene."  I just moved out of an apartment on the party/bar street of my college town.  I want to be surrounded by young professionals as opposed to partying students.

  • Gut Feeling.  The biggest drawback to this place was my gut feeling.  I just had a bad feeling about the place and about the neighborhood.
The apartment showing threw me for a loop.  I really thought this place was it.  I guess I'd jumped the gun on thinking I'd found a place so easily, so quickly, and for a reasonable price.  I felt overwhelmed, discouraged, and most of all frightened that I'd never find a place here that feels like home as much as my attic apartment in Ames did.  In Ames, I guess I was spoiled with an older home that had been very well taken care of with a finished basement, updated appliances, and a renovated kitchen.  That wasn't the case with this other place.

I had a good cry about it and then let it go.  And so I'm back to the apartment hunt.

Luckily, my bf lives forty minutes from my new workplace and is so gracious as to put up with me for a few weeks until I find the right place. Some friends who are familiar with the area have given me suggestions.  And some really nice people at the new job are pointing me to good apartment complexes as well.  I have a brand new list full of apartments to check out this week.  

I'm in such a hurry to find my own place, settle in, and start making it into my first apartment home that's completely mine and roommate free.  I can't wait to start posting about a new apartment and new decorating and new projects!  But I have to be patience and I have to be picky to make sure I end up in a place I'll really love for the next year.

I'll keep you updated on the hunt and the (hopefully soon) apartment find!


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