Tuesday, August 16, 2011

City Dweller Seeks Annoyance-Free Apartment

I've spent the past several years living in a one-bedroom apartment that I never really liked very much, just because it would be such a hassle to move to a new place. Several of my neighbors love TV so much that they want to share their love of TV with everyone else by cranking the volume up to the highest level. Other neighbors smoke inside and outside the building. Their favorite spot to hang out is directly below my window (I live on the second floor), so that whenever I open my window I am forced to inhale their smoke. I often find myself gasping for air and saying bitterly, "Someday I WILL get my revenge! Some...day!"

I also don't like the fact that pretty much every single thing that could have broken down in my place has broken down. If I could live without running water and a refrigerator, I would, but I just don't want to.

So I've been looking for a new apartment to rent, because I've finally faced the fact that I can't afford to live in a one-bedroom apartment anymore. If I lived in the suburbs, it'd be easier to find a less expensive, bigger place to rent. But I'd have to have a car if I lived in the suburbs, and I'm a very nervous driver. I'd probably spend the whole time shrieking, "INCOMING! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" every time I passed another car or drove too close to the curb.

I went to one of those places that helps city dwellers like me find apartments. I didn't have to pay the realtor, because apparently he gets a commission every time a new renter signs a lease. Last week he took me around to look at several different apartments. As we were looking around, there were several things that I probably should have said out loud, but I kept them to myself because I didn't want the nice realtor to think that I was weird. (I do that a lot.)

Realtor: And as you can see, the laundry room is right on the same floor as your apartment, which would be very convenient.
Me: Uh-huh. Why does it smell like someone peed in the hallway? DID someone pee out here?

Realtor: Now, this is the typical size of a studio apartment.
Me: It's kind of small. It's also the typical size of a walk-in closet.
Realtor: Well, you could probably fit all your things in here if you rearranged some stuff.
Me: Or if I sold all my furniture.

Realtor: This building has a lot of great amenities for the tenants, including an exercise room, rooftop access, and an on-site maintenance crew.
Me: I'll just be happy if I don't find any spiders on my dinner plate, laundry left in the machines for four hours at a time, and drunk people lying prone in front of my apartment. (These are three reasons why I want to leave my current building.)

Realtor: The carpet's kind of dirty, but they'll definitely clean that before you move in.
Me: Does that look like the outline of someone's body on the carpet to you? Does the current tenant lie on the floor a lot, or was this part of a crime scene?

The realtor did help me find a studio that wasn't too small, but there's definitely a lot less space than my one-bedroom. I'm sure there'll be an adjustment period, because I've lived in a one-bedroom apartment for several years. But at the same time, I'll be saving hundreds of dollars in rent each month by moving to a studio.

One thing I don't like about my new apartment is that it is directly facing two other apartments. Their windows are so close to mine that  whoever is living in there could climb into my apartment and steal everything I own. (Other than my laptop and TV, I don't really have much of anything that would be worth stealing, unless you count my old Ricky Martin CDs.)

Since I will have this up close and way too personal view of my neighbors' apartments, I just hope that none of them walk around naked. I also hope that they don't stare into my apartment because they mistakenly think that I'm going to walk around naked. (NEVER going to happen!) I'm such a prude that if I could take a shower with my clothes on, I would. (And at least then I'd save money on laundry.)

I kind of wish I was able to just live a simpler lifestyle, like the one Kate Earl does in her music video. Her song "Melody" is on my writing playlist. I like the way her little "home" is set up in the video, especially the paper cranes hanging from the tree. But I don't think I could live in a tent like that, mainly because there wouldn't be enough room for all my books.

When you move (or when you did move in the past) to a new place, what kinds of things do you look for? What kinds of things would be deal breakers for you?


  1. 'Does that look like the outline of someone's body to you?' Very funny, although your situation is obviously not. Hope something gets resolved quickly.

  2. Hi Fran,
    Now that I'm going to be living in a studio, I have to figure out how much stuff I can put in there. One of my neighbors is selling some very nice IKEA furniture that I'd like to buy, but I don't know if I can fit it in my new studio. But at least the apartment I picked out didn't have any outlines of people's bodies on the carpet.

  3. Be thankful that at least you don't have a roommate (even though your new neighbors may start to feel like one). And now you'll have money to eat!

  4. Hi Anna,
    I thought about getting a roommate; then I could save on rent and utilities. But a lot of my work - my website job, my dissertation, grading papers, making lesson plans, etc. - is done at home. It's easier for me to work when it's (relatively) quiet, so I need the place to myself.

  5. That sounds like a really annoying place to live! Best of luck with your apartment hunting. I have a tip for your driving fear. I used to be a really nervous and unconfident driver and it was because i didn't drive often enough. If you drive more often you eventually get more confident and relaxed behind the wheel. Hope that helps.

  6. Hi Alice X,
    Thanks for the advice! I've actually never driven in Chicago, because I don't have a car. It's just as well because I don't know how to parallel park; I grew up in a small town where parallel parking wasn't necessary most of the time, so I never really learned how to do it. I only drive a couple times a year when I visit my parents, because they live in a different state where public transportation isn't really available.

  7. Hi. Just stumbled across your Blog. Interesting post.

    My one requirement when flat hunting was, when push came to shove, could I shut out the world and be totally relaxed. Therefore, the peep-show windows would probably not cut it for me. It's important right? Feeling 100% comfortable in your home.

  8. Hi Tom,
    Welcome to my blog! Sometimes I wish I could shut out the world, especially when I'm working. I'm thinking I'm going to have to keep my blinds closed all the time so that no one can see into my apartment. But I think the lack of sunlight might get to me after a while.

  9. I hated living in an apartment. You're an angel for putting up with everything that goes with it: the noise, the close neighbors, everything breaking down. Urgh. I'm shaking my head remembering it all. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for my house!

  10. Hi E.R. King,
    My dream is to have my own house someday. I think I'm going to be one of those neighbors who puts up a big fence and several tall bushes around her house.

  11. Your apartment sounds...fun, lol. Best of luck with the move. <3 a new follower. P.S. I can't wait to be a home owner either

  12. Hi Kelley,
    Welcome to my blog! The good thing about being a home owner is that I won't be in such close proximity to my neighbors. The thing about the Midwest (at least in towns outside of Chicago) is that it's possible to buy houses out in the country that are far away from neighbors. :)

  13. As soon as I read the title I started laughing.

    Oh how annoying to be subjected to TV's from [seemingly] all sides. & the inconsiderate people who "forget" to pick up their laundry? Hey, I had to deal w/ that scenario all weekend once...

    I really hope that you have mini blinds so that you don't have to see your way too close neighbors!

  14. Hi notesfromnadir,
    I forgot to check if there were mini blinds in the apartment. I hope there are, because I don't like the idea of people looking into my apartment when I'm sleeping. I wish I had the power to make myself invisible.
    The inconsiderate laundry people drive me up the wall. I wonder if they forget that they're doing laundry or if they forget that they're supposed to be sharing the machines with dozens of other people.

  15. I'm glad you found a place that didn't smell like pee.

    If it makes you feel better, we looked at a multi-family place with a friend that was filled with boarders. All we could see were the kitchens and living rooms because every. single. bedroom had a lock on it. And someone who looked homeless was very helpful to us while we waited for the owner to show up (he didn't). That guy lived in the basement.

    Did I mention it was next to Cambridge Public Works - our garbage truck holder and recycling center?

  16. Hi Theresa,
    The fact that every single bedroom had a lock on it is not a good sign. That definitely tells you something about the security (or lack thereof) at that place. In one of the buildings that I looked at, there was no locked front door; there usually is a lock on the front door that only tenants can open at most buildings. The fact that there was no lock on the front door worried me because anyone could walk in. I wish I could live in a building with a doorman (or perhaps a whole team of security guards), but those types of apartments are really expensive.