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[Jan. 28th, 2013|07:56 pm]
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[lucygray]
Can you give me any tips for living alone and/or getting my first apartment? Like what to double check to see if it's in a safe neighborhood, any sneaky costs to look out for...basically any tips to make me feel less lonely and scared about it?
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[User Picture]From: roasted_kiwi
2013-01-29 01:04 am (UTC)

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Take photos of everything before you actually move your stuff in, just in case they try to charge you for damage that was already there when you move out.
When you're walking through a place, flush the toilet, check the water pressure and heat in the taps. Plumbing issues are no fun to move in to.
[User Picture]From: hipslikehell
2013-01-29 03:29 am (UTC)

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also turn the tub on and see if it properly seals/drains so you can take baths and so you don't have water up to your knees when you're trying to shower!

i had this problem at my last apartment and they were basically like "nothing we can do while you're living there" and I HATED IT!
[User Picture]From: meshuggenah42
2013-01-29 08:35 pm (UTC)

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Ugh my stupid tub sort of has this issue. There's something weird with the rubber part of the seal, and it only drains well if I wedge it open with a comb :P
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-29 01:17 am (UTC)

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I just helped my brother's girlfriend apartment shop in the city. It sounds silly but we kind of felt it when it was the right place. We went to one building that was sketchy and the manager seemed really uncaring.. and the place we finally settled on was nice and clean when we walked in, we felt safe right away. and then when we met the owner and the manager they were great and really reasonable and nice to her (she's only 18 and it's her first time living on her own and it's five hours from home.) We made sure to ask the previous tenants what their average electricity bills were (heat and water were included) and we made sure to get the electricity set up in advance to avoid any lapses or fees. If you have a patio door make sure you get a cut down hockey stick or piece of board to keep it shut, my friend even had someone climb up to her second floor patio and walk in (in a much worse area of town, but better safe than sorry, I guess). The place also had a live in manager and he was kind of a crotchety old man so you could tell he runs a tight ship and was honest about previous problems with tenants and we believed him when he said it was quiet lately etc. We made sure to get details on the damage deposit, some places keep a small carpet cleaning fee regardless of the condition.

Also ask if they change the locks after the previous tenants move out. The front door key for this place was a do-not-copy key but the actual apartment door wasn't and it was 30 dollars to get them to change the locks.
[User Picture]From: lucygray
2013-01-29 01:44 am (UTC)

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omg the patio! that's creepy that someone climbed up there, yikes. I wouldn't have thought of that.
[User Picture]From: semi_sweet
2013-01-29 01:20 am (UTC)

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Drive through at night and see what goes on, if there are enough streetlights, noise, people etc out at night
look for crime statistics in that area
if you can, pick up a local paper for a few weeks and read the police reports. if its mostly shoplifting and speeding or DUIs, you're fine, if it's drug related or muggings/rapes, not so fine
google "name of your street/apartment building" and murder/rape/crime to see if any old stories come up
[User Picture]From: miss_almost
2013-01-29 01:31 am (UTC)

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everything everyone else said.

also, ask about the people who live above you - how many people live there, do they have children, how old are children, is it carpeted, etc. ive never hated neighbors more than when small children were running around constantly.

make it a habit to grocery shop. when i was living alone id let my food supply dwindle to where there was nothing in my apartment to eat and waiting until youre hungry to go shopping is not ideal.
have friends over for dinner parties or themed nights often. living alone means you can throw a party whenever you can get people together.
get a nightlight for your bathroom. saves on stubbed toes till you get used to the new place.
decorate! it makes things feel a lot nicer sooner. also, fresh flowers!
enjoy living alone! i loved it so much. get to come & go as i pleased. never running out of hot water or dealing with other peoples hair in the drain, etc. you get to set the thermostat to whatever you want. you can leave your stuff wherever. no fights over who's turn to do dishes. walk around naked. no judging for ordering take out three times in a week. watch whatever you want on tv all the time. stay up as late as you want doing whatever you want. you get total autonomy! think of all the stuff thats awesome about living alone.
[User Picture]From: lucygray
2013-01-29 01:43 am (UTC)

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thank you, that made me feel better :)
[User Picture]From: pastorlenny
2013-01-29 01:43 am (UTC)

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You always have TQC.
[User Picture]From: sophiee
2013-01-29 01:48 am (UTC)

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My first apartment moving out was a nightmare and there are a lot of things I would've done differently. I ended up in what was the year I lived there, the worst neighborhood in Minneapolis/St. Paul as far as crime rates. It was bad enough my dad helped me pay to get out of my lease and into a new apartment about 4 months before my lease ended.

I suggest spending some time in the neighborhood once your seriously considering an apartment, if possible, talking to other tenants (once I gave notice to my landlord of my intent to pay the fees to end my lease early and she started showing it to prospective tenants, any tenant who asked me what the neighborhood was like I told the truth, I may not have gone into details, but it wasn't safe… the perimeter of our blocks and a few blocks around us were frequently blocked off so no one could leave because police were trying to catch someone trying to evade, police helicopters searching on a frequent basis, crack dealers across the street, etc., shit, sitting on my balcony sometimes was like live action COPS, lmao), going into local nearby stores and seeing what they're like, and if you go into a small mini-mart in the neighborhood that sells pairs of socks on their own, brillo pads, "floral gifts" in glass (aka crack and meth pipes), razor blades, single shoe strings and other weird WTF why items, you don't want to be in that neighborhood. Just check the neighborhood out, go by during the day, during the evening, and at night and check out what's happening. Also, ask friends and family who might be more in-the-know about certain areas and pockets of places, they might be able to give you a heads up.

http://www.city-data.com/crime/ might be of help to you, too. Every area is going to have crime, obviously, but maybe compare the prospective area to an area you know and are comfortable with. For me, a little more research instead of "YAY, APARTMENT!" would have saved a lot of trouble for me. Not trying to scare you either, I went into my apartment hunt dumb as hell whereas you seem to be going about yours actually researching areas.

And ditto on the photograph everything before you move your stuff in and fill out that checklist you'll get and turn it into the office! But those photographs will save you huge. When I haven't photographed, the amount docked from my deposit was insane, when I've had photographs to prove, I've gotten most, if not all of my deposit back. Also echoing checking the water pressure. My peeve is the shower, ugh. Weak water pressure in the shower is pretty much a dealbreaker for me unless they're willing and/or able to fix it. I'm not showering in dribble, lol. If the apartment has an A/C unit and it's possible to right now (most apartments have them covered at least up in the areas where it's cool/cold now, some from the outside, some just from the inside) check it out and see if it cools or if it's a dud. My second apartment had an A/C that was close to worthless. If you can't check it by turning it on, check for crappy installation, look around and see if there's light peeking around it. I've been through apartments where there's at least a quarter inch around some of the A/C that had light peeking through. Noooo thanks.

Do you have anyone close by that's moved out and has apartment hunting experience you could bring with you? That might be really helpful.

Keep in mind, the leasing agents are there to get you to lease a vacant apartment and get money coming in. They're going to talk it up like it's the greatest thing in the world and get you super excited about it. Do your homework before diving in. :)

Enjoy the freedom of living alone, though! It's great. I loved it! I'm married and live with my husband now, so I don't live alone now, but the autonomy and no one telling you what to do or breathing down your neck. It's awesome. Don't be afraid, it's something new and exciting! And if my weenie self can make it in a horrible neighborhood and you're doing research to get into a safe area, you'll be juuuust fine! It's a lot of fun.

Edited at 2013-01-29 01:51 am (UTC)
From: light_frost
2013-01-29 02:53 am (UTC)

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Definitely check to make sure the water is running correctly, there are no infestations, the appliances work, no mysterious smells, etc.

You can also check out apartmentratings.com for reviews left by past or current tenants! That website gives a lot of details regarding the apartment complex.
[User Picture]From: heyfashion
2013-01-29 03:00 am (UTC)

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Always ask if utilities are included in the rent or if they're separate. Ask about the parking situation- when my sister moved out years ago the lady who showed her the apartment said she'd get a carport and unassigned parking spot. She didn't find out until after she was all moved in that the carports were actually an additional monthly fee if she wanted one. In some cities you have to pay extra just to even have a parking spot. Check if there is a washer/dryer or a hookup or them, if there is laundry amenities on site (if so, where?)
[User Picture]From: bigeyedphish
2013-01-29 03:09 am (UTC)

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Just make sure you have a plunger and you'll be fine.
[User Picture]From: xphilega
2013-01-29 03:23 am (UTC)

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Call local PD (non-emergency line) and ask what kind of crimes have happened there, complaints, or what the neighborhood is like from their perspective.
[User Picture]From: nynaeve_sedai
2013-01-29 04:09 am (UTC)

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1. Ask about how emergency maintenance situations are handled. Do they have an on-call? What about non-emergencies? What's the expected turn around time?

2. Consider what floor you want to be on. Top floor tends to be the hottest, and the most pain in the butt to get to, but lower floors means you have to deal with people above you walking.

3. What are the noise policies? Who do you call if there's a noise issue? I used to be an on-site manager (I am a fan of the on-site manager too - I lived in one apartment where their only answer to 'loud neighbors' was to call the cops. For crying out loud it wasn't *that* serious. Their music was loud, but still, it's awkward to have that confrontation. An on-site manager carries some authority that is often listened to by residents).

4. When is rent considered late and how do they want it paid?

5. *Check your break lease fee agreement* - you may not have any intention of breaking your lease, but know it. Understand it.

6. Parking. When I was an on-site manager, I was in the heart of the city. Parking was a premium. We charged just to have a parking space. Some residents when they would move in would say "Oh, I'll just get street parking! It's cheaper!" Um. We had two-three solid blocks of apartment buildings. Those same residents came knocking after snowfall when they had to move said vehicles asking for parking spots...which were usually all full. So keep in mind where you are and about convenience. It might be worth the $$ to have the parking space. And if they have that, make sure you know their towing policy and where guests can park. I had more than one pissed off resident who let their guest park in either the manager spot or in another resident's spot and found that their guest's car got towed.

7. Open the cupboards. Just. Open the cupboards (and look for mouse droppings or dead bugs). All of them.

I recommend this article on Cracked.com - 5 Things Everyone Forgets to Check for When Apartment Hunting

And have fun!!! Some places will let you paint (so ask), some places are really close to the happenin' spots... first apartments are a blast and FREEEEDOOOOOM :D

[User Picture]From: empress_nikki
2013-01-29 05:04 am (UTC)

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I started renting my first apartment in August and I looked up reviews for the different properties owned by the company I'm renting from. Be sure to find out about parking- on street, parking lot, with a town permit, etc- and trash removal.

Once I moved in, I asked maintenance to add a chain lock to my door. Lots of apartments no longer have them because they're pretty easy to get past, but they're nice when answering the door to strangers. Make sure all of your windows lock and have secured screens. A lot of feeling safe is just getting used to the area and living alone. It's not an awesome answer, but that was certainly true for me. Don't feel silly about things that make you feel safer either. For the first month I lived in my new place, I checked all my closets, under the bed, and in the bathroom when I came home at night. I planned escape routes in case someone ever actually did get in- I even worked out a one-letter code I code text a friend in case of trouble. All of that could have made me feel nervous, but it really helped me feel comfortable and ready to handle anything. I absolutely love living alone now; I wouldn't trade it for anything.
[User Picture]From: stupidforyou
2013-01-29 12:08 pm (UTC)

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I had maintenance add a chain to my door too. my front door had one but my patio door didn't and I felt safer to have one there too since I lived alone.
[User Picture]From: hereisfar
2013-01-29 08:39 am (UTC)

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Everything others have said is great. I'm not sure on how you're going about finding an apartment (a broker, craigslist, whatever) but make sure you read and understand all the clauses of your lease before signing it. My last huge mistake with the place I lived was getting involved with a landlord I didn't like. I was renting a house from him and he isn't a professional renter; he only rents the one property. I barely knew him and he turned out to be a giant overbearing asshole that expected ridiculous things from me (rent two weeks early, wtf?) and would talk down to me because of my age. If you're renting in an apartment complex, look at online reviews of the complex and see if anyone leaves negative reviews. Don't expect a lot of positive reviews since most of the time people only leave reviews if they are mistreated, but if there are any negatives see what they involve and if that's something you would like to deal with.

As far as living alone: I get feral when I live alone and have no one to judge how messy and ridiculous I'm becoming. I'll spiral into a giant depression and my living room will resemble an episode of hoarders within a week. If you're prone to behaving in similar ways, keep yourself very regimented. Grocery shop regularly and while it's important to keep a decent amount of nonperishables in the household, make sure you go at least x times a month to stock up on fresh fruits, veggies, meats, etc. Designate a certain day a week/every two weeks to do laundry, clean certain areas of the house, and do other chores if you aren't an exceptional cleaner. If you're concerned about your safety because you live alone, purchase pepper spray to keep within reach, even if it is just for the peace of mind. I bought a pretty affordable video camera monitoring system and I put it outside of everywhere I live, even if I never both to set the video up. I'm not sure what your financial situation is but a budget can be an exceptional tool to keep you in check for the first few months. You'll be able to figure out how much money you need to spend on rent/bills/food/gas and be able to set that money aside and not blow it all on takeout and other thing. A big mistake I had with my first few places was never budgeting my money and having to scrounge for bills at the end of the month. Now I loosely budget and have plenty of money in the bank for emergencies.

Perks of living alone:
-You don't have to deal with roommates being loud, stealing your food, being slobs, inviting strangers into your home, bitching at you because you left a dish out, depending on them for half of the rent/utilities or all of the other hassles that come with living with a roommate
-You can walk around naked ALL THE TIME
-You never have to stress about them dipping out on the rent because you're only depending on yourself to come up with it
-You can pass gas anywhere in the house and go to the bathroom with the door open
-You can have people over whenever you want!
-You can skype/talk on the phone loudly
[User Picture]From: sluice
2013-01-29 05:02 pm (UTC)

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I moved out on my own for the first time in November. I LOVE IT SO HARD.

This is what worked for me:

1. Looked up apartment listings online. I spent about a month doing this, reading reviews, etc. You will 99% of the time not find a positive review online for an apartment, even if it's great. What I did do was read between the lines. The place I finally chose had reviews that were like "they're really nosey, I couldn't have any parties when I lived there" or "I would have friends over and the management totally bugged me about us all being on the balcony". A quiet place where a ton of people aren't going to be standing on the balcony above me? Yeah I think that's nice. There was one review from someone who said they had lived there 10 years ago alone and had moved back with their kid recently. That really stuck out.

2. I settled on an area I wanted to move to. Once you have an idea of where you want to be, that narrows the field.

3. I drove around the area I chose. I would never have found the apartment I ended up choosing if I hadn't been driving around the area trying to find an apartment. Once I found it I looked up reviews online anyway, then did a walk through. They showed me the very apartment I moved into, not a show apartment. I thought that was spectacular. They are family-owned and live on site. Also awesome. The owners seemed genuinely concerned about how I went about the process of moving in and answered all of my questions and gave me advice about how to do it (while this might seem intrusive to some people, I was charmed).

You just have to know what works FOR YOU. Once you have that figured out, it will fall into place. Take your time. I hope you love living on your own as much as I love living by myself.

Good luck.