As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts recently, our apartment hunting has been fraught with disappointment, and I feel pretty discouraged about the whole thing. I admit that we have rather high standards and lengthy list of requirements and wist list items, many that reflect our preference for a greener lifestyle that includes active transportation, cooking healthy meals from locally grown food, and living in an energy-efficient space.
Requirements and Ideal Features
- Smoke-free BUILDING — not negotiable. Potential landlords, if you say it’s smoke-free, and it’s not, we will know, trust me.
- Two bedrooms — that’s kind of the point of moving
- Second-floor unit
- Hardwood floors — so much easier to clean than carpet, better for allergies, no vacuum required
- Garage — I could care less about my car, but I’m tired of lugging Bub up and down the basement steps, and I imagine we’ll be adding some kind of bicycle trailer to the set-up in the near future
- Functional kitchen — we spend a lot of time in this part of the house
- Dishwasher — With all the cooking we do, having a clean-up shortcut is VERY helpful, plus using a dishwasher can use less resources than washing by hand
- Good storage space — can be combination of closet space and storage space in basement, if the basement is clean and dry
- Energy efficient furnace — I’m sick of seeing places where they say, “Oh, your apartment has a brand new furnace,” and we look at it, and it’s an 80% efficient model, which is pretty much the least efficient you can buy these days, when for just a bit more, they could have had a 95% efficient furnace (huge energy savings)
- Insulation in the attic — we know from experience that it’s hard to get a landlord to add this once you sign a lease, so ideally it would be there from the get-go
- A sunny yard to garden — perhaps one of our most negotiable points, given our competing desire for city living
- Located within walking and/or biking distance of amenities such as grocery store, library, parks, etc.
So, what’s the verdict? Are we asking for too much here?
I’m thinking about giving it a break for several weeks, and continuing the search in April when there might be more rental stock available. I’m not sure I can take anymore right now.
Well, I don’t think your list is unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination. How difficult it will be to find something that meets your criteria is a completely different matter.
I think it’s really hard to have control over some of those things (especially furnaces, insulation and gardens) when you rent rather than own. I don’t mean this to sound like I’m harping on the “buy a house” thing because I’m totally not. There are plenty of downsides to being a home owner, but for me, having control over my living space has made a huge difference in my life.
In fact, when I did buy my house 16 years ago, I actually started out just looking for a bigger apartment. I was really tired of living in under 400 square feet, and there were other “issues” with my apartment as well. But everything I looked at was too expensive, or didn’t have any storage, or no garage, or didn’t feel safe, or had enough other issues that it just wasn’t worth it.
It was my boyfriend who encouraged me to look into buying. My initial thought was, “are you crazy?” I was in my 20’s, totally broke (making under $15K/year) and terrified of the commitment. I also had a huge list of requirements, and crazy parents mucking up the whole process.
But, after probably 9 months of searching (with the most wonderful little-old-lady realtor on the planet) I finally found a place that was a bargain, in a part of town that I NEVER would have considered, but that has turned out to be absolutely wonderful. A bigger kitchen would be nice, but my kitchen is certainly functional, and it does keep me honest in terms of not collecting too much kitchen crap. 🙂
Anyhow, I think the thing is to decide if you’re looking for a long term move here, or just something to improve your current situation. The longer you plan on being there, the more you should stick to your guns in terms of getting what you want. That being said, life will change dramatically after the baby is born, so you probably want to take that into consideration too. Not sure if that means move now so you don’t have to deal with it after the baby comes, or if it means wait and see how life changes with a little one, so you can get a place with parental priorities in mind.
Hang in there… it will all work out one way or another!
We have thought about buying, but I don’t think we’re quite ready to take the plunge yet (careers and long-term plans in flux). We made a really low offer on a place two years ago that was rejected outright (which we expected). When I think about it, I’m usually relieved that they rejected the offer, but sometimes I wonder “what if . . . .”
I don’t know what part of St. Louis you are looking in, but we used to live in Richmond Heights, and LOVED IT. We could walk to the library, rec center, Schnuck’s and it was a very cozy neighborhood. Highly recommend it! The furnace might be the hardest thing to find on your list. St. Louis is such an old city that most apartment buildings haven’t been updated with new things like energy efficient furnances.
We are mostly looking within the City of St. Louis, but would also consider some of the inner-ring ‘burbs like Richmond Heights, Maplewood, U-City, or Clayton.
Yeah, I can understand somewhat when the furnaces are just old — it’s the ones that have inefficient NEW furnaces that really get me.
hey…crazy bc i just found your blog and this was the first post i read. my husband and i live in a duplex in u city (2nd floor)…we own it and we just placed an offer on a different place today so we’ll be wanting to rent this place out. we have a lot of the things you’re looking for on your list, almost all i think, so email me if you want more information!