When I first decided that I was going to take the plunge, move out of student housing and into my own apartment, I had no idea where to begin. Barring scrolling though Zillow for hours and begging my older friends for some scraps of advice, I was pretty much wandering blind. My roommate and I came into the idea of renting with bright eyes and bushy tails but were quickly met with a hundred twist and turn that left us muttering ‘what the fuck’ to each other day in and out. There’s so much that goes into renting an apartment that I felt vastly unprepared for because no one ever told me about it. Screw trigonometry in high school, I want a class on how to set up your utilities.
There’s an entire encyclopedia of things that go into an apartment, many of which I never even considered (I have to pay for trash??) and am still consistently being shocked by. When I was looking through different blogs trying to get some semblance of help, I found the resources lacking. There are a thousand articles on how to decorate your kitchen but none telling me how to connect the gas to one. Seems like a gap.
While I have am nowhere near an expert on the subject — that’s a laugh to even consider — since the bar on information available is basically underground, I felt like I could scrounge up something feasible to share. But if these notes end up being utter crap, please remember: I have no idea what I’m doing.
If there is something I would have loved to enter the world of real-estate with, it wouldn’t have just been the confidence to engage in negotiations but also the simple sentiment that negotiating is normal. I don’t know how I got into the mindset that negotiating a lower price is rude rather than traditional but once I stopped and thought about it, I realized how silly that was. My parents negotiated every big purchase they’ve made — house, car, etc — and that seemed more than fitting, even obvious to me, but the idea of doing it in my own life, with my own purchases, was unimaginable.
First off, it’s not unimaginable, and once my roommate and I put on our big girl pants and took the plunge, we massively reaped the rewards. It’s unnerving to start the conversation, thoughts of ‘what if this is offensive’ or —— floated through my mind, but once the ball was rolling, it was surprisingly easy. We asked for the rent to drop by $200 total, and (shockingly, to us at least) our landlord agreed. It is a give and get system though so we had to be prepared to give on one of our requirements but with a little finagling, we only had to move in 15 days earlier than planned.
Read The Fine Print.
This seems standard and again *obvious* but so many people don’t do it and by so many people I mean me. I did read the contract, but I’m not going to lie, near the end I began to skim because it was 20 pages and I have the attention span of a squirrel. The consequence of my utter laziness was that I missed out on a seemingly unimportant detail that became very important very quickly. My building does not cover exterminators. First off the bat, I thought cool, don’t care but now I care. A lot. Why? Because we have cockroaches. And they are huge. Now I realize that talking about creepy crawly bugs that are coming out of my air vents (gag) and fly (triple gag) may not conform to picturesque life that people like to create on blogs, but in attempt to move away from “bloggery content”, I bring to you: cockroach stories.
So yes, big, nasty, almost indestructible bugs that fly and scuttle about and generally make me want to burn the apartment down. I say almost indestructible because I’ve found a large Ikea lamp box works quite nicely as a weapon of choice. The rest of the building is under renovation, which makes sense as to why we are having the not-so-tiny intruders, and because of this, I thought the removal of said intruders wouldn’t be our problem. Harkening back to the aforementioned lack of reading, they are our problem and to put it very plainly, it sucks. Please learn from my mistakes and read the fine print, just save yourself the trouble.
Now when I say measure everything, I’m not just talking about the spaces in which furniture is going to sit. That’s simple, easy even. Measure the hallway. Measure the staircase. Measure your doorframe. I learned the hard way that just because something fits perfectly in a space doesn’t mean I can actually get it there. Our building is very old (talking late 1800’s here) and because of that, nothing it really built in an effective way. The staircase from the main foyer up to our apartment is very narrow with jagged turns. We discovered quickly — not quick enough — that any large furniture we bought was going to have to be flat packed in order to just get it up the stairs.
While this isn’t detrimental by any means, it was frustrating because we had picked out a bunch of pretty furniture that we could no longer buy, simply because we couldn’t get it up the stairs. My heart still aches a little over the velvet chair we lost.
It’s okay now, we bought a velvet flat packed couch instead.
Like I said before, I’m not the absolute authority on renting an apartment. I don’t know everything (not even close) and I really am just figuring it out through trial and error. There are a thousand more lessons for me to learn and once I deal with the roaches, I’ll be more than happy to. But those suckers gotta go first. For my fellow new renters, I tip my hat to you figuring it out one step at a time and to those with more experience, I beg of you to share it.
Ps. Apartment pictures to come soon, she isn’t done yet.