Midtown has a wide range of housing options, which is a good thing, but the sheer volume of apartments and houses for rent can be overwhelming for a recent college grad like me. On top of this, you have to sort out the crappy places from the gems, make sure you’re getting a good deal, and deal with finding and selecting a compatible roommate. After a roller coaster month of searching for an apartment in midtown, I finally found an adorable, affordable studio. Here are some things I learned in the process:
Apartment Hunting Do’s and Don’ts
DO figure out your priorities. Is location most important? Price? For me, having a patio or some kind of outdoor area was essential. Particularly if you are looking for places with a potential roommate, make your priorities clear from the start so you aren’t stuck with a place that isn’t perfect for you.
On the other hand, DON’T be unwilling to compromise. I wanted to live in Midtown but I would also search ‘downtown’ on Craigslist, and I ultimately found a place on 14th street, which isn’t technically Midtown but it’s close enough.
DO use caution when advertising yourself as “420 friendly”. I posted a Craigslist ad to find a roommate and said I wanted a “non smoker, 420 ok”. In response, I got an email from a girl who seemed completely normal, but after we’d started to look for potential apartments she called me and asked if I’d be ok with her growing marijuana in the house. “I have a medical marijuana card, so it’s completely legal,” she said—but I was not going to deal with her selling drugs to god knows who in my own apartment.
DON’T be too put off by the weirdos. While searching, I came across several ads that made me worry I’d never find a normal place to live. One said this: “there are wild peacocks that roam the premises. At sunset they ‘meow’ loudly. Their safety is of the utmost importance.” Another person advertised for a nudist roommate. I got a reply to my “roommate wanted” ad from a guy who began his email with a physical description and then went on to say, “I’m not home much and could use a feminine touch around the place, I pay the rent & bill’s you help keep the place clean, and yes, a roommate with benefit’s (that simple) any race or age 18 & up.” I was a little creeped out at first but then just had to laugh and move on. These kinds of encounters are inevitable when it comes to Craigslist, but DO be careful!
DO try to figure out your roommate situation in advance. It’s hard to line up an apartment too far in advance, but you can line up a roommate, or at least decide whether you’ll have one at all. In the span of three weeks, I went from looking for a roommate on Craigslist to looking for an apartment with a good friend to looking for studios. I ended up with a studio and I’m completely happy with it, but it would have been much less stressful if I’d known this from the beginning.
DO be wary of ads that use excessive capital letters, don’t have pictures, have way too little information, or are posted multiple times.
DON’T look at a place until you really have all the information you need. This means asking clarifying questions when you call to make an appointment, even if it seems unnecessary. I went to look at a place that was advertised as a 2 bedroom, only to walk in and find that the second “bedroom” was actually the living room that the front door opened into. Essentially this was a one bedroom the landlord was trying to charge $1200 for. A complete waste of time that could have been avoided if I’d asked about the bedrooms on the phone.
DO be quick getting your applications in. When I found a studio that seemed like a good option, I immediately filled out and sent in an application, even though I wasn’t yet 100 percent sure about it. The next day I decided I definitely wanted to live there, and it turned out that another person had applied too. If I hadn’t applied immediately I probably wouldn’t have gotten the place, and I’m so glad I did!
And finally…DO stay optimistic! There are new places posted every day, and things can turn around that quickly. I went from feeling completely lost to finding my new home within about three days. Midtown is a great place to live and if you go about it the right way, you can find your perfect apartment here.