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Apartment/condo/house hunting/roommate tips?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by RFOS, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    I'm a male in my late 20s and have been living at a relative's house for too long! She is rarely present at the house and counts on the money I've been paying her in rent, which is less than I would have to pay elsewhere, so it's worked out to be a good arrangement for a while, but I'm more than ready for a change, and to really be "on my own" but I'm feeling overwhelmed by the number of options and stressed and confused about whether I would be able to pay for any decent ones.

    I'm single and in a smallish city/metro area (let's call it 100,000 in the area I'm looking at) with a higher than average cost of living and am single and not making a lot of money (after I get a slight raise at work around the time I'm looking to move I'll be making just enough that I won't qualify for low-income housing :shuffle: ). I don't think any of my single friends are looking to move to a new place in the near future. My sister was able to get into a decent apartment complex and move in with a friend and there are some pretty nice ones around that I could probably afford if I could split the rent with someone, but no way could I afford even a one bedroom apartment (if available) on my own.

    I've tried looking on Craigslist and various realtor sites. Most of the "roommate" situations advertised on Craigslist that are in my price range are for renting one bedroom in what is otherwise someone else's big house and split among several different people. I don't think I'd feel comfortable or happy in that type of situation. I'd also really like to get a cat and most of those arrangements either don't allow pets at all or aren't accepting any new pets because there are already pets in the household. I wouldn't mind a roommate though (as long as we met beforehand and determined that we would be compatible, and that determination turned out to be correct ;)).

    I'm not ready for a really big commitment, since I'm still trying to hold onto some hope that I won't be single forever (a relationship would certainly be nice for many reasons, including having another income to factor into the equation), so I probably shouldn't be looking at buying at this point. I also have no idea how I could possibly save for a down payment. I'm not a big spender and have some decent money in the bank but nowhere even close to what I'd need for a 20% or even 10% down payment on a decent place. (There are some really cheap mobile homes though where I conceivably could afford that much now or in the near future, but that's about all. Almost anything other than a mobile home is at least 3 times that price.)

    Does anyone have any advice for a single person looking for a place to live? This real world thing is kind of overhwelming. :shuffle:
  2. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    I feel for you. I'm a teacher and if I was single I would need a roommate. I just don't make enough when I factor in student loans that have to be paid. Are there ANY cheap apartments? Sometimes you may be surprised. The trick is finding cheap in a place where you won't get robbed or murdered. What if you move to the outskirts of the main city? Anything cheaper that may be worth a little further commute?
  3. Cyn

    Cyn Well-Known Member

    From my past experiences, my advice would be to do everything you can to live by yourself.

    I've witnessed too many friends have their relationships with friends go to absolute shit after becoming roommates (as well as losing two friends of my own after living with them).

    If that is not possible, I would seriously avoid looking for a roommate on Craigslist -- the potential for encountering some nutbar is just not worth the risk. Surely there are some websites available that screen potential flatmates? What about a BB at your house of worship (if you're religious, that is). Although I don't practice the faith in which I was raised, I found one of the best roommates I ever had through one of the synagogues in Atlanta. It turned out she wasn't particularly religious, either, but she was moving there from the Northeast for her very first teaching job, and her parents gave her the advice/idea of going through one of the local synagogues to look for a potential flatmate.
  4. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

    The best rooming situation I ever had, by far, was with someone I found on Craigslist.
  5. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    I live near Los Angeles, where you cannot live by yourself in a nice place if you're making under like, $60K/year. Not if you want to avoid eating instant ramen 24/7. It is impossible. My coworker cannot live with roommates so she had a teeny place to herself. (Actually, I'm pretty sure it was a repurposed shed, since it was literally in an alley where all the other houses on her block had their backyards.) The roof always leaked and rats bigger than her Yorkie would come in via the giant hole underneath her oven. And she would ask us to save her CRV recycling so she could use it for grocery money. Fun times! :p

    I actually found two of my housing arrangements from Craigslist. The first was a very responsible young teacher, but it got awkward when she broke up with her long-term boyfriend and quickly shacked up with another guy and I felt like the third wheel in their love nest. :eek: It was a great price though, for the area. And it really could have been worse, because I hear of some REAL doozies from my friends!

    The second was when I shared a big house with 3 guys and another girl. I really should have asked to meet my housemates first, because one of them was OCD. And he didn't know it. The first two weeks with him was hell, but after I made it clear he couldn't push me around, he left me alone for the most part. Amusingly, I was by far the longest-lasting housemate there. I lived there for almost 2 years. Everyone else eventually moved out because of him! :lol: But he kept the house clean and as long as I stayed out of his hair, it was fine.

    My next place, I found through my work e-boards. It was great because she already had cats, and it was the first time I'd lived with pets after college. :) There was some awkwardness due to her having some lightweight friends over for parties, but they were pretty rare occurrences. It was the landlady I hated, and landlords can be hellish with or without roommates.

    If you're a male, you should be on the whole, fine. Actually, not long after I moved into the OCD house, the arrangement became 4 guys...and little ol' me. :p I know a lot of women would have trouble living with guys (let alone multiples of them, and two of them lifted weights), but I didn't have a problem. I have a knack of killing sexual tension and being intimidating with my brains or...something. Nobody even hit on me! :lol: Anyways, if you have rules and boundaries, definitely make them known and people will respect you. I think that's the most important thing.

    Also, I wasn't best buds with any of my roommates. I was pretty good friends with my work roommate, but we definitely didn't go out together or anything. I think if you can keep each other at somewhat of a distance, disagreements will become less personal and you'll have an easier time. The friends I knew who roomed together after college, hated each other after the first year. :lol: I do think you need some distance with your roommates.

    Another important thing is to just roll with the punches. I have a very tolerant personality and I usually keep to myself, which makes me perfect as a roommate. (Tolerant, yet assertive. Remember, OCD guy learned he couldn't walk all over me! :D ) People might be using the bathroom when I want to, or using the kitchen, and you can't get huffy over that kind of thing. OCD guy might have driven everybody crazy, but then I figured that we must have been driving him quadruply crazy! :lol:
  6. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    I have actually managed to find some really great roommates on craigslist! I do have some roommate horror stories, but most of them are from people I already knew. I would say no matter where you find your roommate, make sure you come up with a "roommate agreement" for both of you to sign. The one I had with all of my former roommates was just a simple list of house "rules" that everyone agreed on. No leaving dishes in the sink for more than 48hrs, no over night guests more than 3 times a week, no use of personal items without asking permission, give at least 30 days notice if you want to sublet or move out, ect. It worked out pretty well, and it cut out a lot of potential grey areas.

    Have you thought about placing an ad for a roommate to go apartment hunting with together? That way you feel like you are on equal footing and not moving in to an established situation.

    No matter where you find your roommate, make sure you meet with them for coffee or lunch a few times, check out their facebook, linkedin, twitter, ect. and even ask for references if you feel that would make you more comfortable, but also be prepared to share some for yourself. Good luck!
  7. my little pony

    my little pony war crawling into canada

    a rental agent at a real estate co can represent a variety of properties. you could tell them where you work and how much you have (and that you prefer to have a kitty ; ) ) and see what they recommend. there might be neighborhoods in the area that suit your needs that you havent thought of.
  8. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    We rent out a townhome. The only place we advertise is craigslist. Friends rent out a condo- the only place they advertise is craigslist. Another friend is a real estate agent who deals in rentals- all rentals get advertised on craigslist

    The point I'm going with is, craigslist is the place for rentals now. It is also the most common place to find roommates.

    You can work with a real estate agent to find a rental, but in a small town, you won't see most of the properties that way. The cut they want is just WAY too high for most landlords to want to list properties that way.

    Good luck finding something. I know in my smallish city rent is insane. A payment on a mortgage is maybe 60% of what rent costs for the same place. But of course, you are stuck with the property, and need a down payment.
  9. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    What a good idea! And in the hunt you can get a feel for whether or not you're compatible much better than a 10 minute meeting.
  10. my little pony

    my little pony war crawling into canada

    i'm sure you are right about a lot of places. but i live in a small town and two real estate companies handle the majority of the rentals, even the ones that are someones home with inlaw quarters added.
  11. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I like your idea, Smiley0884, I'll defniitely consider doing that. I sent a few emails in the past couple days about ads I did see for rooms available.
    Smiley0884 and (deleted member) like this.
  12. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    If you have mobile home parks near your community, it may be possible to rent one of those homes. I know you can do this in my area. Often, renting a mobile home is a lot cheaper than renting an apartment with that same number of bedrooms. It might even be cheap enough for you to live on your own, or if the place has two bedrooms, to split with only one other person.

    The other thing I suggest you think about is staying where you are for longer. I know you want to be on your own, but if the financial realities of your situation aren't where you need them to be to allow that, then why not stay longer? You say your relative does need the income you give her in rent, so you're doing her a service, and it seems that other than wanting to be on your own, you don't really have many complaints about your current living situation. So you really could just stay put.
  13. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    I just feel like moving out is an important step for me, and one of many areas I'm determined to make progress on in the next year. I've been there almost 6 years now and it's time for a change. We've agreed on a timeframe when I could move out, which isn't for a few more months, and after that she'll work something else out as far as making up the income.

    I've checked out a few places so far that I potentially could afford on my own, but 2 of them weren't very nice at all and the other wasn't bad but was definitely at the top of my price range. I've had a couple people contact me in response to the posting I made about looking for someone to go looking with and have been corresponding with them a bit but haven't met up yet.
  14. RFOS

    RFOS Well-Known Member

    I found and was approved for a place today (a studio that's very conveniently located). I looked at it Saturday and the woman who showed it to me warned that it would probably go quickly, within the next week, because it was the last studio they had available. It looked nice and was in a great location was near the top of my price range I was comfortable spending. I checked yesterday and the price had been lowered by $55 a month and talked to my sister and she sounded really excited about it which pushed me in the direction of going for it. I'm excited and ready to move on to a new place in my life, literally and figuratively. :)
    BigB08822, gkelly, Kasey and 5 others like this.
  15. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    Congratulations!!! :cheer2:
  16. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Nice! Can you post pictures at some point?
  17. CanuckSk8r

    CanuckSk8r New Member

    How exciting! Congratulations RFOS:cheer:
  18. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Congrats. My first apartment on my own was also a studio; It was on the 10th floor of a high-rise. I thought I would live on rice and tuna forever to save money. That didn't last very long :)
  19. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    Any condo owners have tips to potential buyers about how to avoid a bad condo association?
  20. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple

    Write to the president and ask about the building. I always send back quick, nice replies. :). Our previous president would take like a week to get back and give really terse answers. We didn't sell a lot of units while he was in charge. :scream: but he was a good president. Just not a people person.
  21. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

    Congratulations! Your first place, what a great memory you will have. I'm moving this week, but it's literally the 17th home I'll be living in. Yet I can still remember with a lot of fondness my first place.

    Enjoy it! :)
  22. wombat

    wombat New Member

    try speaking with other condo owners in that complex. if there's an issue, you're likely to hear about it from at least one of them. be specific in your questions too--you're more likely to find the info you need.
  23. acraven

    acraven Well-Known Member

    In addition to the above suggestions, I'd ask for copies of recent association newsletters (if one is published) and of the minutes of board meetings. You might learn something interesting.

    If there's a staffed front desk, you could try for info there, too, though employees' unwillingness to discuss the building atmosphere might just mean that there are strict rules in place about that.

    Try to get hold of the condo documents (house rules, etc.) before making an offer. You'll want to know about carpeting requirements, rental restrictions, and policies concerning noise and pets. Some (maybe all) jurisidictions require that the condo documents be given to prospective purchasers, but I think that sometimes happens only after an offer is made, which is a little late to find out that there's a massive lawsuit pending, or that a costly structural issue will soon be addressed, causing a special assessment or a big increase in monthly fees. Some condos charge $50 or more for copies of the documents, so during the shopping-around phase you might try asking whether you can review the materials at the desk to avoid that cost.