For most of you who know me, you know that I spent all four of my Carolina years living on campus. Now was I in a dorm all four years…oh no! I lived in our on campus apartment set ups for three of the four years. But I’ve never really had a legit apartment to myself and I’ve NEVER had to go through the process of even looking for one until…well…now!
So yesterday, I decided to take my first stab at apartment hunting. It’s clearly not something I’ll be getting right away but it’s a process I’m unfamiliar with and in a place like D.C. I know I’ll need all the practice and time I can get!
And this is how my apartment saga began. I noticed a few open houses for Saturday in the housing ads in the Express newspaper so I thought why now visit them and see what the housing market is like in D.C. Now a year ago, had someone said NE or SE D.C. I would have run in the other direction immediately; but now I’m more open to it because I know that SOME parts (hence I said some) are acceptable and potential options.
Well…let’s just say, I saw three different parts of D.C. and three different types of housing options and I was the same kind of tired and frustrated after the whole process.
My first stop was in NE which I’m more open to than SE because there are some nice/decent parts of that area and technically the Capitol and Congress buildings are in NE too so it’s not that bad. So I drive up to Apartment complex 1 and it wasn’t too bad on the outside, the area was hmm…ok…but it wasn’t horrible. The staff at the leasing office was nice and I saw a decent sized one bedroom model room. Of course, the model room reminded me of the model room you see in college because it had all the stuff you could put in an apartment plus all the fake pieces to help with the illusion (ie. The paper box TV, the fake plaster food in the kitchen, etc). But was not a bad place…small like most first apartments are but semi quaint and the price was right…$765/month and that included all utilities. Not bad right? But thing’s went for the worse when I asked the lady about safety in this area and her response was, “Well, I don’t stay on the property but most of the staff and they like it. But I always tell people, if you’re concerned about safety, come back here around 7, 8 o clock at night and see how you fine. Then make a decision.” Needless to say that was a deal breaker for me. Come back at night and see how I feel?! What kind of answer is that? So, Apartment complex #1 got axed in my book.
Off to Apartment complex #2.
Now, I know I was taking a risk with this one because it was in SE. Yes, the one place I was told to take precaution in. Well, let me tell you. There’s definitely a MAJOR different between NE and SE and I didn’t like it but I was literally 5 minutes away from the apartment complex so what the heck, right? Well…the area wasn’t that bad, but…. was I saying the Lord’s Prayer as I drove in, you bet I was! But it was still probably not as bad as I’m making it out to be…Anywho on with my story.
So I pulled up to the leasing office and it was not as friendly as the last one but it worked. Now this one I was semi excited for because they said there would be specials and refreshments — and you know being in that college mindset still free refreshments is always a selling point. Well, their refreshments were a couple bottles of water, some stale looking cupcakes the size of a quarter and bags of chips from God knows when. But again, the lady who showed me the apartment was nice and honest because that’s what you need when finding a new place. With this apartment complex, there wasn’t a model room just any available open apartment which actually worked better for me because at least I know what I’m getting. Now, from the outside the buildings were…hmm…ok, not the best but ok. But when the lady opened the door to their one bedroom apartment, I was shocked with what I saw. In the midst of this borderline hell hole of SE, was this beautiful, spacious hardwood floor one bedroom apartment, with a balcony, gas stove in the kitchen, decent sized bathroom, modesty sized bedroom and a walk-in closet that gave me a small attempt at Carrie Bradshaw’s fashion lover’s dream closet! But again this small piece of heaven and potential step toward adulthood was in the hood of SE D.C. So as you can imagine I left and apartment complex #2 became another ‘x’ on my list.
Now, apartment complex #3 was yet another stretch but at least, this one was really just for looks, I knew I probably wouldn’t be staying in NW D.C. especially in Woodley Park but I got a suggestion from a friend so I figured why not! And this was just one apartment visit for fun, seeing some that could be my home when I’m making the big bucks one day. Well, let’s just say it was more than I bargained for in any way, shape or form. As a rolled up to apartment complex #3, I was faced with the ever present problem in NW of no parking so as I’m riding around the area I see some of the buildings and of course, it’s all beautiful. Beautiful design, lovely colors, shoot, they even have real landscaping. And like most people who live in D.C. when you can’t find a park, you call and ask where you can find one and not get a ticket or get towed. So I call the apartment office and ask the lady where can I park so I can see one of their one bedroom apartments. She asks me a few questions like when I would move in and to confirm it was a one bedroom I wanted and then this response came. “Well right now we do have a one bedroom at $1650 a month available for showing but not until 3:30pm. Can you come back then?” No need to say what my reaction was and you would be absolutely right if you guessed that I didn’t came back at 3:30 and I didn’t need to find that parking spot. So clearly apartment complex #3 was really off the list before I went but it become nonexistent after I tried.
In a nutshell that was my first apartment hunting fiasco and it wasn’t too bad. In my opinion it was much needed. And no, again, I will repeat, I’m moving anytime soon. I don’t have a real job so clearly no real paycheck but I do have an issue with rushing myself with a process like this one. This will be my first apartment and it’s also the first time I’m have to do this at all. In Chapel Hill even if I had moved off campus, there were only but two or three apartment complexes that you looked at anyway so the process wasn’t as difficult. Here there are at least a million options within D.C. and when you factor in parts of Maryland and Virginia, you have yourself too many options to comprehend.
But I am blessed to have the family I do in he suburbs of Maryland so I at least have a roof over my head and place to sleep for the price tag of love and free. Plus this time will give me time to figure out my options, see a few more places and waste a little bit of gas just trying to make that first step toward adulthood.
Until next time,