What becomes immediately obvious, when you start apartment hunting, is that there are no apartments.
We found out where the closest laundromat was because after waiting half an hour, my roommate had to pee so badly that we went in a frantic search of the closest public restroom.
“You have six months to find your own place,” my godmother, Kimmie, says.
I have only lived alone once, and it was not by choice. When I was a senior in college, my boyfriend broke up with me over the phone from San Diego, saddling me with a lovely studio apartment with an eat-in kitchen, lots of sun, and a rent payment that I couldn’t really afford. I paid my rent using a loan that I am still most likely paying off, and spent a lot of that long winter marooned on my bed eating frozen grapes and watching the Food Network, since I refused to cancel the expensive cable. I lived there for the whole year, alone, but was too sulky to appreciate what I had.
I mulled over the fact that I had just dropped off a rent check for an apartment in Manhattan that I hadn’t even lived in for half of the month.
When I moved halfway across the country to go to university at 17 it was my first time being away from my parents for more than a week. This was definitely not a problem; I had been focused on “getting out” for years. Unfortunately for me, my parents had no idea what they were doing, and neither did I. I’ve now lived in five different apartments of varying degrees of crappiness in three different Canadian cities with 10 different people. I would like to share with you some themes of my experience in the rental housing market, namely all the basic ways you can hopefully avoid similarly crappy experiences as much as possible.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition looked at fair market rents (according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development), and calculated how much a worker would need to earn per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in their county (the “housing wage”).
Southern California Public Radio station 89.3 KPCC is doing a project on the “rent crunch” in Los Angeles.
It goes like this: You see a listing for an apartment on Craigslist (or a realty site) that sounds like it might be a great fit for you, but after contacting the broker you learn that it’s already been rented. The broker convinces you to look at similar apartments, but none of them have the same qualities of the apartment you were initially interested in.