My Apartment Hunting Horror Story

In college, you slowly begin to have to take on some responsibilities which means facing some “grown-up” problems. One of these major responsibilities includes finding your own apartment or living space. As part of this responsibility, you will also have to find roommates, schedule and attend apartment viewings, know which questions to ask and feel confident in signing a very real document that will commit you to one space, a couple people and a whole year of experiences. Having just signed my first lease, I now feel it is necessary for me to share my own apartment adventure.

Before the year even began, I believed I had a solid plan with a friend just because we had made some passing comments about wanting to live together in the past. I naively went into the year with full confidence. I had so much confidence that when I grew closer to some new friends and was invited to live with them, I declined. However, as I watched them plan their group and become more serious about their apartment search, I began to wonder why my supposed “future roommate” had not talked to me about our plan. When I asked her what her plan for next year was, I was shocked to hear her talk about living in the “perfect apartment” with other people. When I confronted her about it, she tried to fix the situation by kicking out another girl and replacing her with me. However, if you’ve ever been someone’s second choice, you know that it isn’t a feeling you exactly want. After evaluating her offer, I was quick to turn to the friends who made me their first choice, realizing that they were always mine as well. After finding my roommates, we began our search for the perfect apartment: three bedrooms for six people with a great kitchen. We eventually found a group of friends who were graduating and wanted to pass down their apartment. We were familiar with the space and even though it was not perfect, it seemed too easy of a deal to pass up. So, we exchanged emails with the landlord. His responses were less than friendly. They were cold, straightforward and short. At first, we saw this as “business talk” so there did not appear to be any real problem. Then, after trying to set up a meeting with him for weeks, he finally told us he could meet us one weekend. Thrilled, we thought everything was going to be done and finalized.

Then, days before the meeting, we got an email from the landlord saying he got an offer from another group that was willing to start the lease earlier and that he was “more inclined” to give it to them. We were blindsided. Terrified we might not be able to find another apartment after hearing so many other groups struggling to find the perfect place, we matched the other group and agreed to start earlier, even though it could cost us more if we were unable to find subletters. Less excited, we gathered our deposit and prepared to sign. However, as though the universe was giving us one last a sign, the landlord never showed up to the meeting. After waiting for almost an hour, he never showed. Frustrated, we threw up our hands and walked down the street as though a better apartment might just hit us in the face. And it did. 

Outside one of the most well-known and social apartment buildings on the street was a sign saying there was one apartment left. We quickly emailed the landlord and got a response in seconds with the one line “open house at 2pm”. It was 1:40pm. We rushed inside where we found three other eager groups touring the apartment. The space was large with a living room connected to a perfect kitchen. There was no sign of old carpet or shady landlords and there were full beds in every room. It was everything we wanted, expect our group had only six people and it was a ten-girl apartment. Without even thinking, we reached out to another group of four that we happened to know were also looking for an apartment and who we knew very well. We sent loads of pictures to them, all while keeping the landlord busy and away from the other groups. Within a minute, we had a group of ten. The second we got the text, we scribbled out the amount and name on our old check to reflect the deposit and name of this new “dream apartment” and told the landlord that we were prepared to make a deposit NOW. The other groups looking had not even gotten to see the in-unit washing machines before our check was in the hands of the landlord. We were golden.

When we walked out of the landlord’s office, we were greeted by our future apartment's view. It felt good to be an adult. If there is anything to learn from my experience, it is to not settle. Choosing an apartment is a big decision and it has to feel right. You have to choose a good group, find common ground and find a space that makes everyone excited for a new year.