Finding your second apartment

Searching for your first apartment is an adventure. With your newly acquired independence, you can finally move out of your parents' house or the dorms and into your own place. You're going to find a great place with an affordable rent in a good neighborhood, and if you've spent the last few years in a dorm or college housing, you know the exact qualifications your apartment must meet.

Well, almost. In reality, you'll probably find that rent is much higher than you thought, you can't live in the nicest neighborhood, and you can't get the nicest apartment. And your apartment qualifications might have been grossly incomplete or incorrectly prioritized. I can't do anything about high rent, but maybe I can help you out with those priorities. Mine weren't too bad, but as I approach the time to renew my annual lease for the first time, I can definitely look back and see some gaping holes in my qualifications when I chose this place.



My apartment has a reasonable amount of windows. I assumed that the window quantity was the only relevant characteristic. I had never even considered where these windows faced. It turns out that my apartment has very few useful windows.

Half of my windows
face left here.
Windows are useful for admitting fresh air and light into your apartment, but this is difficult without also getting visibility, noise, and odors from outside. If these cause problems, the window isn't as useful. My bathroom window is usually closed because I don't want increased visibility. And in the summer, my living room window helpfully feeds me the air from outside - with the scent of the nearby garbage cans. My bedroom windows are useful, but only when the people in the next building aren't making any noise with their windows open when I'm trying to sleep.

When I look for my second apartment, instead of simply counting windows, I think I might try to use them.


The first floor

I'm on the first floor. I thought this was a fantastic idea. Moving large furniture into the apartment is much easier if you don't need to use a stairwell. It's also convenient when carrying groceries.

My other windows.

Unfortunately, being on the first floor means being extremely visible from the outside. The rest of my windows face the building's garbage cans, so my entire apartment is at eye level with everyone whenever they take out their trash. A lot of people have been very startled to see me when they think they're quietly doing a chore alone, then they notice that I'm standing 10 feet away in my dining room.

Maybe the second floor is a worthwhile compromise.



My building has a coin-operated washer and dryer. I assumed that this would be sufficient, since I had lived in dorms with coin-operated laundry in college and I was fine with it.

The Speed Queen!
But there are a few critical differences. The dorms had many washers and dryers, and my building has one of each. Not only does this increase the waiting time when they're in use and increase the time it takes to do my laundry, but it also puts the entire building at the mercy of one machine of each type. The dryer doesn't work very well, but there's nothing we can do about it because it's the only dryer. The college-dorm machines were also only 50 cents each. My building's washer is $1.75, the half-working dryer is $1.25, and they each have a far smaller capacity than the huge machines in the dorms.

I go to a laundromat now, and I've decided that all of my future living arrangements must include easily available unlimited-use laundry machines, even if I have to buy them myself.



The walls are incredibly thick plaster, and I can't hear anything from the other people in my building. But since half of my windows face another building, I hear everything from those apartments. It's not always pleasant. I face a lot of bathrooms, one tenant has an awful smoker's cough, and another likes to scream over the phone in Russian on Saturday mornings.

Each day, at various times, I can hear an electronic doorbell from some nearby building. But it rings for a few hours at a time. Ding dong... ding dong...

Maybe I'll take a few minutes to listen to future apartments.


Cellular reception

I didn't want to get regular phone service because I had a cellular phone that was perfectly sufficient for my needs. When looking at apartments, I never thought to check my phone reception.

No service. Unless I'm hanging out the window. Then I can enough service to make a 30-second call before it's dropped. I blamed Verizon until I had some friends over with different providers, and I haven't found a single company that offers service in my apartment.

I was the last person I knew to get a cellular phone, and three months into my two-year contract, it became completely useless to me.


Your first apartment is usually an adventure. Mine's sure interesting. Old people call this "charm". But as nice as it is, I think I'll go for a second apartment with a bit less charm if it can offer free laundry.