Last Saturday, after vetting places online, I drove to several apartments to check them out. The first place, which had gotten pretty good reviews online, looked a little sketch from the exterior. Still, I walked to the leasing office where the lights were all on, but the door was locked and no one was in sight. I knocked loudly several times to see if someone would emerge from the back, but no luck, so I moved on.
The second place was in a neighborhood I didn’t care for. Too many winding, hilly, side streets that looked like a nightmare of on-street parking which morphed many streets into one lane passages. The apartment building itself had plenty of parking, but it was a high rise. When I met with a representative in the leasing office, I was quoted a price that was higher than what had been listed online and didn’t include utilities. Those would be a flat $120/month extra. As she gave me the tour of the building she pointed out the pool which she said was closed. “What are the pool hours?” I asked. “10-9, I think,” she replied. “So, you mean it’s closed for the season.” “Yeah. They closed it on Labor Day.” Even though it’s 95 degrees outside today, I thought. She showed me a lackluster apartment which didn’t even come with blinds. In discussing the price, she tried to sell me on the utilities flat fee by pointing out I could run electricity all day, as if the ability to gratuitously waste resources is a good thing.
The third place I went to didn’t have a leasing office on site. I discovered this after I drove there and, finding no entry to the building, called their number. I got a recorded message and left my name and number asking if someone would be able to give me a tour, then went on to the next place, assuming I would get a call sometime during the day. I never did get a call. I called their alternate number the next day and left a message. Still never heard anything. I get the impression they’re not fully up and running yet.
The fourth place, I knew would be a little out of my original price range, but I thought if the prices quoted on the website included utilities, I could maybe pull it off. The fourth place turned out to be exorbitantly priced. I got a quote higher than what they had advertised online, and not only did it not include any utilities, it didn’t even include parking. They wanted $75 a month for parking and $12 for trash, and a $399 “processing fee” in addition to the application fee. They also had already closed their pool for the season. It was one of those places that offers a “clubhouse” with a pool table and big screen TV, as though there are tons of people who think to themselves, “what I need in an apartment building is the ability to play billiards with my cronies while we watch the Cartoon Network in HD.” Sure, there was a washer and dryer in unit and security doors for access to the buildings, but I didn’t think it was nice enough to warrant the prices they were charging, and even if I did find the prices justifiable, it was out of my budget. I asked the woman if their management company had any other properties that would be suitable for teachers. (There are rumors going around that some places offer teachers a discount.) She gave me the address of one on another block but said she didn’t know anything about its prices or whether they rewarded teachers.
When I pulled in to the fifth place, I didn’t realize that I had misread the sign. The address I was supposed to go to was 5500. This was 5550, but I didn’t notice until I was inside inquiring about an apartment. Since I was there, I thought I might as well take the tour. The place was nice enough, with a washer and dryer in unit, and utilities were included. But it was in a high rise, and I don’t like the idea of living in one. They seem really impersonal. And the price was about $300/month more than I wanted to pay. So, I got in my car, planning to hunt down the right address.
I was undoubtedly fatigued from all the excitement and terror of the first week of teaching, plus sleep deprived, and frustrated with how the search was going. So, in retrospect, it’s not terribly surprising that when I backed out of my parking space, I didn’t back out quite far enough so that when I shifted into drive to get out, I ran over a curb. Hard. It made a terrible sound, and as I drove out of the parking lot, I could tell I had a flat. I drove over to a nearby shopping center where I knew I could park safely away from others so I could change it.
I still had quite a bit of stuff in the back of my car from the move, so I had to pile it all up toward the front in order to access my spare. In 95 degree heat, I got to work on changing my tire. This is a skill I asked my dad to teach me back in middle school when I was doing summer “self-improvement plans” as part of my self-imposed, self-created training to be in the CIA. (Don’t ask.) So, I handled it well. A couple people offered to help, but I declined their offer. I needed to do it myself so I could feel I’d accomplished something that day. Besides, the second guy who offered did so as I was screwing the lugnuts back on. Um, I managed to loosen them, then actually change the tire. I don’t need help tightening them, thanks. I’m pretty sure he was just trying to show off in front of his friends.
With sweat dripping all down my face, I managed to find the tub of Wet Wipes in my car, so I could at least get my hands kind of clean. Then I used my GPS to find a tire place. They were completely booked for the day. So I drove to the next nearest one, where I bought a used tire and was out of there in less than half an hour.
At that point, I knew I was done apartment shopping for the day. It was after 4, so I walked around World Market to calm down a little and then drove back to my friend’s place, picking up some fried chicken on the way. I had to start over. Go online, look up places, then vet them on Yelp or other review sites and plan a visit. All while dealing with being in a new work place. That weekend I also had to read the 10th grade summer reading assignment, The Maze Runner. It was a bad weekend.
Monday, I visited an apartment complex close to where my friend lives. These apartments are a series of buildings, none of which is taller than three stories. The apartments were in my price range with utilities and parking included. The kitchen and bathroom in floorplan ‘A’ were a little smaller than I would have liked, but she said there were other floorplans, ‘B’ and ‘D,’ where those rooms were bigger. They weren’t ready to show that day, though. She said they might be available to see on Thursday and to call her.
The ‘A’ plan she said would available to move into on the following Monday was across the hall from the model and in a building that only had 4 apartments total. I liked the idea of being on the first floor across from the model with only 2 neighbors in the building. But I wanted to see the other plans. On Thursday, my birthday, I returned with my application. When I told her it was my birthday, she said she would give me a free accent wall if I signed up that day. I knew I wanted to live there. I just didn’t know which apartment plan, yet. She said a ‘B’ wouldn’t be available for move in until October, but she had a ‘D’ that would be available around Tuesday. The ‘D’ did have a larger kitchen and bathroom, but they weren’t bigger in a way that helped me. There was a built in bookcase in one wall of the living room, which I liked, but the location of the apartment within the complex left a lot to be desired. It was tucked way in the back in a building where I had lots of neighbors and where the landscaping was a little less kept up. One advantage of living across from the model is they have flowers planted out front.
So, I decided on the ‘A’ across from the model and I move in today. I have no furniture yet, but I’m going to pick up a free dresser I found on Craigslist. I’ll be sleeping in a sleeping bag for a couple days, but I’ll be in my own place, and after I’ve picked up a bed and a few more things, I’ll finally feel settled and can establish a routine.