The apartment scramble is in full swing. It’s more like an apartment dance. The dance has 4 parts: The search, the find, the bone crushing disappointment followed by rage and frustration. Sometimes this becomes despair until the dance starts all over again. It is… awesome. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
I thought I would share our little hell journey with you. Up first was a “house” that was listed for 1950/month. A little two bedroom thing with a cute fenced-in front yard. I called on it the second I saw it – I knew that a bunch of people would be clamoring for the application. The only viewing time available was at 7:45 pm. So once dinner was done we packed up the car and away we went to see this “house.” I planned to carry baby around as a cute-shield. No one can resist baby, so we were guaranteed to pass the first round, right? Well… things were not quite as they seemed.
Cute little house in the front:
Whole slew of hidden apartments in the back:
This we could live with. The price was right (can you even imagine that I’m saying this? A little house for almost 2000 and we were jumping all over it.), and if it seemed contained, we were ok with the apartments in the back. And upon first glance the inside was cute.
The kitchen was really cute, but the bedrooms were very, very small. And the little house had less storage than our 1 bedroom apartment. Even these things I could shrug off.
But the windows were weak, and the edges covered in mold. And the hardwoods had mold spots from water damage on them.
And we have seen these things before and didn’t recognize them and then suffered the consequences. And with the baby rolling around on the floor soon, we didn’t even submit an application. We had to say no. No “house” for us. Strike 1.
Next up we found an apartment on the top floor in a little town we would love to live in. It is located on a eucalyptus lined street and boasted larger-than-average-rooms. It was 2150/month. And I can’t believe we are even considering spending so much. Truly… it is insanity. Again, we did the apartment hunt dance. We had high hopes and then…. and then…
To get to this breezeway we had to walk up 3 flights of very narrow stairs in a very dark hallway. You can’t tell in this photos but the walkway there actually tilted outward. It sloped terribly and made me want to hug the wall. I the idea of lugging stroller and carseat and baby up and down and up and down almost made this an instantaneous no, but we went in anyway.
Everything was dirty and small. The carpet hadn’t been replaced or cleaned, the ceiling was popcorn style and threatened asbestos. Nothing had been updated since maybe the 70s? Nothing. The bathroom sink was worn down from water dripping from the tap. The closet doors in the bedroom were covered in weird vinyl that was peeling off. The baseboard heaters were begging to be fiddled with by baby hands. And the kitchen was smaller than the one we have now. For two THOUSAND one hundred and fifty dollars.
It may not translate quite right in the photos, but while wandering around the apartment hoping that things would be better, I whispered to the baby, “this is what they call a shit hole, sweety.” We left without talking to the grumpy lady landlord.
Up next… round 3. And the best round so far, to the point where I may regret not jumping on it… anyway, this is the story of what we have done and I can’t change it. The third apartment we looked at was 1950/month and located about a block from the freeway. Sigh. It was located in a building similar to where we are now, a boxy thing from the 1940s. Except these units had not been so well maintained and their windows were old, cracked, single pained, and covered in spiders.
And another steep set of stairs.
The apartment was clean and smelled lovely. The eat-in kitchen was small, but had a lot of room to move around and more counter space than I have now. Plus the little linoleum spot where a table could go would be perfect for what we have and I could see a high-chair sitting the corner, Gabe’s chubby face covered in pureed peas.
But the windows were single-paned again. And I knew that in the winters when it would for sure be window and raining and cold they would rattle and cause drafts and I would hate them. And the location, was it worth almost 2,000 dollars? By the freeway? I just… can’t. I can’t have something that is less than what I already have but costs 100s more just for 1 extra bedroom. I can’t do it.
And then yesterday we took a risk. When I fall in love with an apartment I can’t contain myself. I have no poker face. And I was afraid I would fall in love with this one because it was 2200/month and had promises of a washer and dryer in unit! IN UNIT! Kamel and I were nervous it would suck and be another let down, but equally nervous we would love it and then be absolutely unable to afford anything else in our lives. Are we really paying this much in rent? Really and truly? This is what we’re doing now? I hate it. But… here we are. The apartment was in a condo community that reminded of photos I’d seen of Greece. The buildings were white washed with blue accents. And there were well manicured gardens between each building. I kept mumbling, “I like this. I really am liking this, Kamel.” But… as the apartment hunting dance goes…
This 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, washer and dryer included apartment was …. gross! The bathrooms were yuck. And the apartment was oddly laid out. This was the master bedroom:
Nothing was clean and everything was mismatched. The bathroom cabinets had been updated but the showers were cheap and covered in soap scum. There were spiderwebs and debris all over the windows and the balcony was filthy. Let alone… I would never ever ever let my kid go out there.
Nothing made any sense. I got lost just walking around it. The kitchen was oddly placed, the washer and dryer were in a weird breeze way with random storage and there were mirrored walls everywhere.
For 2200/month it would have to wow me, and instead I was disappointed, frustrated, amazed at the ridiculous expense.
Making this post I am self-conscious that the photos look so much better than the apartments were in real life. You’re going to think I’m crazy for saying no to these. I worry about people rolling their eyes and telling me I’m being picky like those fuckers on House Hunters. But… yeah, I guess I am being picky. That is a lot of money! And for what? For moldy floors, shitty windows, and a nook of a kitchen? It sucks. We have to tell our current landlords whether or not we are for sure leaving by July 20th. And … I dunno. Kamel keeps saying, “We NEED a two bedroom. We cannot sleep in the same room as the baby forever! We need it, this has to happen!” But our place now is clean, with double pained windows, excellent water pressure, a car port, and I can walk to Trader Joes. He’s right of course… a 1 bedroom is not sustainable. In another year we’ll be in the same boat if we stay. Except I’ll have an 18 month old. Housing should not be this complicated. If we move farther away from our jobs the price of commuting will make up the difference we save in rent, and it will take me even longer to get home to my baby. I would love to be able to move to a different city where housing isn’t this horrific, but we can’t just live anywhere because Kamel’s career is involved in a handful of specific companies.
It’s a mess. This whole thing is a mess. And in the end we are all just bleeding money and cursing single-paned windows. The hunt continues.