Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Apartment Hunting: Part Two

To catch up on Part One, click here.

So we spent last weekend checking out our new potential digs. We ended up with appointments with three apartments, all in the Shorewood neighborhood.

Apartment One: Upper Two Bedroom Duplex
Rent: $900
Amenities: Washer/Dryer, Central Air, Fridge, Dishwasher, Locked Storage Unit, Parking for two cars (one driveway/one garage), Small Patio

Apartment One was definitely promising. It had all of the features that we were looking for, and the landlord seemed very nice and responsive (he lives across the street). The basement had significant storage space, which was clearly divided between both apartments. He did make clear that we couldn't paint, or change things like the carpet, etc. The biggest challenges with the space were that textured berber carpet and kitchen decor left something to be desired. The kitchen still have the 50s-style yellow/gold formica countertop, and matching blue/yellow/green wallpaper. The part of me that enjoys decorating tried to see it as a fun challenge. The landlord mentioned that Central Air would be hard to find in the area, which proved to be true based on the other place we saw.

Apartment Two: Lower Two Bedroom Duplex
Rent: $875
Amenities: Fridge, Storage in Basemenet, Parking for two cars (one driveway/one garage), Non-smoking, Small Backyard, brand new windows

Apartment Two was just sorta charming. It was clean, and freshly painted in a neutral, warm tan, with white trim. It included both a living room, and dining room with nice looking hardwood floors and built-ins. I know it's silly to get excited about the little details, but I loved that the living room had sconces in a few areas. What the apartment was lacking is probably obvious from reading the amenities: central air conditioning, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer. Yep, those creature comforts that I would love to have. But it was really pretty...

Apartment Three: Upper Two Bedroom Duplex
Rent: $875

Unfortunately we didn't see Apartment Three. I contacted the landlord on Saturday, and we set up a time for Sunday. Sunday rolled around, and we sat outside the building for 30 minutes. He never showed. Nor did he return my voicemail. Major red flag. Although the place looked like it had potential in its Craigslist ad, we were not going to deal with non-responsiveness. Plus, there was a big dog in the backyard who howled at us when we walked up. If that furry dude lives downstairs, I have no desire to live upstairs. I'll deal with my own pet noise - not someone else's.

So we talked about the two, and felt like we could make a decision between them. We loved the neighborhood. Both convenient to businesses, and easy to get to work. Plus a cute place to walk around. 

In my head, I kept wavering. I knew I wanted a place that would feel less like my apartment, and more like my home...that just happened to have someone living upstairs or downstairs. I knew that Apartment One had more of the things we were looking for, but I liked Apartment Two better. So we talked through it, made a pro/con list, and talked some more on Sunday night.

Here is where I regret what I did next... In a desperate attempt to get some clarity, I put our dilemma out on Facebook, to see what others might choose. That others might be able to decide for me if I could live without air conditioning. I think I expected to hear arguments for both sides, and when I didn't - overwhelmingly people said to go for amenities - I became defensive of Apartment Two. Because they weren't there to see the things I liked about it, or the drawbacks of Apartment One. And they were throwing out other amenities to prioritize that were not an option in either apartment, which started to make my head spin. 

Let me say that I appreciate my friends, and their desire to look out for my best interest. I know that their intention was to respond to the question that I asked honestly, and perhaps, to help Chris and I find our best home. I put it out there, after all.

But I kept thinking in my head, "but this is our apartment, not yours." Which is true.  Here I was opening up a decision, that is ultimately a personal one, for Chris and I. (Sorry don't get a vote). I totally get that for other people, having a breakfast nook would not weigh anywhere above air conditioning or a washer/dryer. But when you live with two cats, and have two litter boxes to worry about, a nook sounds pretty amazing. Much better than putting on your makeup in a tiny bathroom next to Bucky taking a poo and giving you the stink eye. Those are the things that are harder to explain that I worry about when finding my new home.While my friends were outraged at the thought of not having a washer/dryer in their own apartment, I hadn't had one in the last four years, so I didn't have the same emotional reaction at the thought of not having one. And because Apartment Two came with hookups, I knew that we could save money for a bit, and get our own set. While most said to value the creature comforts over pretty, there is just something to be said for pretty.

There were those that encouraged us to keep looking. And that is definitely a reasonable response. Why consider "roughing it" if you can find a place that has the best of both worlds. But for me there was just something about the spirit of Apartment Two, that I wasn't sure I'd find anywhere else. And so after asking Chris for the billionth time, "are we making the right decision?," it was time to just bite the bullet.

So on Tuesday, I called to let the landlord know we'd be applying, and we filled out our application on Tuesday night. I faxed in our application over lunch on Wednesday, and began looking at washer/dryer prices...

(to be continued)

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