In college, I led the search for a house for my roommates and I after our freshman year. We were determined to live off-campus as soon as we could, because that’s what the other girls on the swim team had done. We had few criteria–we wanted to be within walking distance to the pool and we each wanted our own bedroom. That was about all we looked for that first year.
And I learned my lesson.
The first house we lived in was crap. It was dirty and run-down and falling apart. By the time we left that place 9 months later, there were holes in the wall, floorboards were coming up, doors were off their hinges and the deck needed a new railing. (It was definitely not all our fault.)
The second house we lived in, we tried to step it up a little bit. We stayed on the same street, but new landlord. This landlord had a lease that was 50 pages long, so we figured the place had to be well-kept. Oh it was well-kept all right. He had his eye on our every move. I’m pretty sure rule number 562 was “No having fun whatsoever” (right after “no boyfriends can sleep over” and “no more than 6 people in the house at one time”…not joking on those ones).
So as I made this huge step to move out of my parents’ house a few months ago, I figured that surely I’ve gotten wiser by now. Surely I can pick an apartment that isn’t falling down, with a landlord who actually respects the fact that I am an adult.
Not only have I found this still-standing house with a truly great guy who runs the place, I have fallen in love with my new home.
When Jim and I decided to move in together, I was once again put in charge of the house-hunt. But looking for off-campus housing and looking for an apartment in the city are totally different scenarios. In college, there weren’t many options and what was there was sitting right in front of you. I literally walked down the street and called the numbers on the “For Rent” signs as I walked to class. But now I was faced with the daunting task of scouring Craigslist and scoping out reviews for rental companies, visiting apartment after apartment without success.
Lo and behold, my cousin works for a rental company. I thought I hit jackpot. She showed me a few places that I liked, but were out of our budget. They were big and relatively nice though. They all needed a good hard cleaning, but I saw one that I was about to apply for on the spot–$200 over-budget, not including utilities or parking. Still, I almost did it. I took a bunch of pictures, preparing to convince Jim that this had to be it.
And then I got some sense talked into me and realized it just wouldn’t work. Good thing I held off because the next week, I came across this cute little Craigslist ad, spoke to this cute lady on the phone and walked through the perfect apartment. My mom and I thought it was so perfect, in fact, that I didn’t take pictures. In retrospect, this was a terrible idea. But I knew this was our apartment. I didn’t have to show Jim the pictures to convince him. I didn’t have to ask. I knew.
So we sent the applications in that day. We had our credit checked (heart racing and fingers crossed that day…we had no idea what our credit scores would be). I wrote a big check for a security deposit and got an email the next day saying the place was ours, please sign the lease.
Still, I could hardly relax. I couldn’t believe it was actually real until last week, when my family and I took three days to move all of my things in. Until yesterday, as I sat in front of the TV, watching Comcast cable that I finally figured out how to set up. Until tonight as I cooked my first dinner here.
And I still probably won’t feel like it’s really truly ours until Jim moves down in a few weeks. And then it will be real.
This past month or two has been terribly stressful for me. Searching for an apartment is a time-consuming and frustrating task. Once the apartment was found, trying to get everything I’d need to live here was stressful. Now I finally feel like the last dish has been washed, the last hanger is hung. The lamps are plugged in and the clothes are in drawers and I’ve stocked up on hand soap and trash bags. I can cook dinner, clean up the kitchen and watch a movie from start to finish in one night.
I didn’t realize how hard it would be, or how expensive. I have Jim’s help (and when he gets here it will be better), but without him right now, the settling in has been largely on my own. In college, there were three or four of us. We split the essentials, took turns washing dishes and leaned on each other more than I knew.
This has been a learning experience–as always. Next time I’ll take pictures so that when Jim asks me how many windows there are or whether there are ceiling lights, I’ll actually have an answer for him and he won’t have to solely rely on my drawing of a rudimentary floor plan.