holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
[personal profile] holyschist posting in [community profile] actyourwage
The rental market in my area has gotten kind of ridiculous. Our rent is going up, again: I don't know how many years we can absorb this kind of rent increase, since my partner is close to the wire and not getting huge raises every year; I make pretty decent money and could afford rent increases for a while, but I'm currently on contract and still looking for a genuine long-term job that pays enough to live on.

We would like to move, both for financial reasons and because this place has gone downhill, particularly maintenance-wise since management changed in 2010 (it took the terrible outside contractors three tries to retile our shower, and it's still a terrible tile job and a worse caulk job; it was not fun).

What we would like in a new place:

1) Cheaper than the current place.
2) Ideally a little bigger, so we can store camping gear in it rather than the storage unit (which costs $30/month).
3) Not full of bedbugs or roaches.
4) Not in a high-crime area.
5) Allows cats (preferably without an astronomical pet fee, but I'd suck it up if it meets 1-4).
6) Outgoing mail. Although I suspect every complex in the area but ours probably has this.

So far just about everywhere I've found that fits 1 and 2 has apartment reviews that suggest that bedbugs and/or roaches are a big problem, drug deals are going on in the parking lot (is this exaggeration? beats me!), or has great reviews and prices but...no pets.

I'm not sure how much weight to put on reviews. Half the reviews are people claiming a complex is the WORST PLACE EVER and there are much better, cheaper places (but not naming them!), and the other half are glowing and look seriously fake, and I'm not sure I want to rent from a place where the management sockpuppets. Every complex I've ever lived in, including the ones I loved, have lousy reviews--I mean, even when my current complex had no laundry room for months and took away our outgoing mail permanently (!), I would personally call it mediocre, because there don't seem to be pest or crime problems, and it's middling in price for the area.

So...anyone have advice on apartment-hunting? We're also maybe looking at townhomes for rent, but so far the only one we've found in our price range that allows pets is literally right next to a train track, and I already have trouble sleeping.

I'm getting really discouraged.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-08 01:12 am (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
Have you considered non-complex options? (i.e. privately owned buildings, duplexes, etc.) They're often a lot more flexible about some things. (You would have to give up the outgoing mail and possibly laundry facilities, but they're often notably less expensive.)

I moved this summer from a property company owned building (former farmhouse, but still) to a private rental - I'm paying $50 less a month, for a better laid out space, more storage, more stability, and fewer guest restrictions.[1] Downside is that my trash is slightly less convenient, and I have to go to the laundromat rather than hauling laundry to the laundry room in the building, but really, that's minor in the grand scheme of my day to day life.

On trains - unfortunately, there's no great way to test this, but for a lot of people, train noise is something they learn to sleep through. I worried about it with my new place (window close to as major a road as you get in rural New England, that gets lumber hauling (with all the related big truck noise from time to time.) I've found that while I hear it when i'm awake, it doesn't wake me up at all at night, especially not with something mild for white noise. (A fan, for example.)

[1] I live in a small college town, but work at the university - most of the bigger apartment buildings here have very tight guest restrictions to limit parties. Which is fine for "not being awake until 2am", but not so much fun for "would like more than 2 people over for dinner sometimes.")

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-08 01:52 am (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
It varies a lot location to location - but no, the last four places I've lived (all of which were private homes) didn't.

The first three had postboxes within about half a mile (not necessarily the most logical walking distance if you were walking to a bus route or whatever, but not horribly out of the way) My understanding from talking to someone whose husband worked for the postal service is that managing all that mail is *very* time consuming, because the door to door carrier never knows exactly how much might be there/etc. So they're phasing it out. (Stuff from the larger boxes can get bulk processed differently, basically.)

My current place, there's a box just across from where I work, and the post office is a quarter mile away. Small town.

As to finding a place: word of mouth in your area can do a whole lot. If there's a LJ/DW/whatever other online community for your city or area, that can be good. Craigslist can be a lot of up or down, but if you look at places, you may well find a place where you know someone who knows the people who own it. That kind of thing. (My current place, one of my co-workers knows the owners - I'd ignored the ad because it said "No pets" but it turns out they were willing to negotiate for one cat. And she was willing to vouch both ways.)

As to things ending badly - honestly, if you're familiar with your local tenancy laws, are careful with your lease, and so on, I think it's sometimes easier with a private landlord. I've found property companies much more of a hassle to deal with - someone who needs to keep living in that neighborhood, etc. has a vested interest in sorting a bunch of stuff out amicably. Doesn't always work, but it doesn't always work with complexes, either.

Meh on laundry, I agree. I think the laundromat works out to slightly more expensive than the machines in my previous place (which were pay machines, not "cost rolled into your electric/water bills, but effectively invisible" - I was paying about $5-6 a month, and it's probably going to be $10ish going to the laundromat, depending on which machines I use. That - compared to a $50 a month drop in rent - is not a big deal. (And I know about the time and hassle, but it's an excuse to either do other errands in the area or certain kinds of reading.)

What made a big difference to me in Minneapolis (rural Maine, I don't have lots of choice in my laundromat) was finding a laundromat I really liked. The one I ended up at all the time had a pinball machine, tables, and really awesome ice cream across the street. I rarely used the first or third, but just having them there made me more cheerful about doing laundry.

But I also structure my laundry so it's pretty low-key and low-hassle, other than the actual hauling and waiting (basically everything is cotton, I don't color sort, and I don't buy anything except special occasion clothes that needs more attention.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-08 02:31 am (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
Pretty much the only things I put in the mail these days are Netflix envelopes, occasional cards to friends, and so on. So I can't exactly blame them. (Packages, but those have to go through the post office.)

Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I might be: currently live in rural New England. Up until last year, spent 12 years living in various parts of the Twin Cities (Minnesota) metro - 6 years on the very edge of St. Paul almost in the suburbs, 2 years in the suburbs, four years in Minneapolis itself. (That was the bit with the laundromat, and I actually went to one in St. Paul, because an extra 5 minute drive made for a much more pleasant experience waiting. Apparently the thing I personally really want in a laundromat is tables and chairs.)

The first place in Minnesota was a complex, the next two were rooms in a friend's house, the last one was a small privately owned rental from someone I knew through local religious and fannish community connections. (And I'd have been there still except for the whole "got a job halfway across the country" part.) So, not as hugely different from your experience as it sounds at first glance.

(On the prices, now I had a chance to make my brain sort: $50 is roughly 10% of my rent here (I went from $535 to 475 ). The complex apartment was, I think $730 when I left there in 2005, and my last place there was $600 (with some fudging around the edges for utilities - the complex included everything but water, the last place I paid electric and gas, but it still came out to about 10% difference or better.) The complex apartment was more square feet, but not by tons.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-11 12:20 am (UTC)
lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lassarina
My last place had nasty reviews about bugs (that I found after I moved in) and, yeah, we had house centipedes that my boyfriend killed for me on occasion, but nothing as bad as what the reviews suggested. So reviews are sort of meh in my opinion anyway.

If you live in a large city, you may have a service like Apartment Finders, Domu, or Apartment People that can take your list of requirements and make some suggestions; however, the caveat is that they will generally only look at landlords who've registered with them, so you may miss out on other options. Rent.com and apartments.com have served me quite well, and Craigslist has not. Sometimes the newspaper classifieds aren't too bad.

Given the utter shitfuck state of the economy, sometimes you can have good luck calling up realtors; they might know of places looking to rent.


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