Richmond, VA: help a new grad find his first apartment!
December 30, 2009 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Richmond, VA: help a new grad find his first apartment!

I am a new college graduate moving to Richmond, Virginia to start my first job. I just graduated this December and won't be able to actually visit Richmond to check out apartments before arriving to start my job. I am planning on lining up an apartment before I get there. The upside is that I will only be in Richmond for six months for a rotational assignment. Please avoid comments to tell me I should see the apartment I rest first--it's just not possible given my schedule and location.

My budget is < $1200 depending on the amenities, location, etc. The primary problem I am encountering is finding out information about particular apartments that the renter's don't want to advertise--railroad tracks, poorly insulated walls, noisy neighbors, unsafe location, terrible management. I have used and similar resources to find out about these complexes and the only one that gets an overall positive review is the Pouhlig Box Factory--which doesn't have six month leases, I checked.

I would love any comments about places to rent or avoid as well as areas to avoid. I like to go out and have a good time, but don't want my home to party-central because of my new responsibilities.

Thank you for the input!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Memail me the location of your new office, thoughts on commuting, and your other search results, and I can opine.
posted by rainbaby at 10:41 AM on December 30, 2009

When I relocated to Richmond last year, I got a 4-month lease on an apartment just outside the Fan. If you are ok with living out in the burbs (i.e., if you're with Capital One or something) then you have a LOT more options.

I'm available via memail, too.

Also, when's the next Richmond meetup? :)
posted by QuantumMeruit at 10:45 AM on December 30, 2009

QuantumMeruit, were you in the Todd's Loft area around Broad and Meadow towards the Diamond? That's the first area I thought of.

Meetup sounds good.
posted by rainbaby at 10:53 AM on December 30, 2009

Broadly speaking, there are two sets of neighborhoods I'd be looking in based on what you've said. You've got the Shockoe Slip and Bottom area (where the Pohlig Box Factory you mentioned is), just east of downtown, which contains a number of warehouses that have been converted into swank lofts. The conversions are mostly pretty recent and the apartments pretty modern. If your job is downtown, you'd be able to walk to work. Shockoe Bottom is a major nightlife area and can get pretty loud on weekend nights, though most of the lofts are not immediately adjacent to the bars. I think the bars tend to be a little fratty on that side of town, but that could just be my prejudice as a Fan-dweller.

The other area to look at would be the Fan and the Museum District to the west of downtown. They're residential neighborhoods with a lot of older housing stock (think Victorian to 1920s and '30s) which gives the area a lot of charm, but also makes renting something sight-unseen a bit of a crapshoot if the property hasn't been rehabbed to a modern standard (though $1200 a month ought to get you something quite nice). There are a lot of bars and restaurants, especially in the area right around Robinson Street towards the western side of the Fan, but they're a little more spread through the neighborhood than in the Bottom, and I find the nightlife scene more laid back on this side of town. I'd avoid renting anything too close to the VCU campus if you don't want to be at party central.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:55 AM on December 30, 2009

If you're looking in the Fan or Museum District (which are both great places to live), stay FAR FAR AWAY from River City Real Estate. I know several people who have rented through them, and they are a short step above slumlords - unresponsive management, constant maintenance issues that are left hanging for months (such as, say, heat), just all-around awful. A quick Google of their name finds many people who agree.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:59 PM on December 30, 2009

If you're going to live in the Fan, try to stay a few blocks away from VCU. Fan's got a few good places to eat, some decent bars, and is generally a quiet place to live. The Museum District is a really nice area, as well, though the closer you live to the museum itself, the more you will pay. Worth the scratch if you have it, though. I'd stay off of Boulevard itself, though, because it's a heavy-traffic road relative to the rest of the area and you can get equal-or-better places without living right on that road for about the same amount of money (or less). Both the Fan and Museum District have easy access to Carytown, and Ellwood Thompson's is a good little supermarket.

now i kinda miss rva thanks a lot guys
posted by Mikey-San at 1:18 PM on December 30, 2009

Strongly seconding the recommendation to avoid River City Real Estate (aka Parachute Factory) at all costs -- they will make your life hell, guaranteed.

Apart from that, <$1200 is still a good amount of money for Richmond. The areas mentioned above by others are all good bets, but you might do well to also look into house rentals in the near West End or the Bellevue area on the Northside (depending on whether or not you expect to get around by car most of the time).
posted by newmoistness at 1:59 PM on December 30, 2009

My wife handles apartments for her boss, most of their apartments are new in renovated buildings & give the number of vacancies would likely be open to a 6 month lease. Hit me up direct and I'll pass on her office number.

The location is Broad Street downtown, right up in where the First Friday's Art Walk happens. The area is fun, but can be gritty at times.

The management is good, their office is 1/2 block away.
posted by john m at 2:30 PM on December 30, 2009

When do you want to rent your new place? I'm actually moving out of my apartment in a place I dearly love and that I think is fantastic, to move into a house with my boyfriend. My lease is up at the end of Feb. I live in the city. Memail me if you want more details. I grew up in Richmond and can offer a lot of advice.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:58 PM on December 30, 2009

It's a shame you submitted this anonymously, since some more information about where you're going to be commuting to and whether you'll have a car would have been nice.

In terms of location, the western part of the Fan (between N Meadow and the Boulevard) is far enough away from VCU so you won't be bothered by the throngs of students wandering around on weekend nights. The Museum District between the Boulevard and I-195 is like the Fan but even quieter and not as active, though it's somewhat closer to Carytown. If you want a more bohemian area, Oregon Hill or Church Hill (west of N 25th Street) are not bad, though Oregon Hill is also pretty close to VCU. Bellevue (around Macarthur St) and Northside are also nice areas.

I know some people like Forest Hill south of the river, but depending on your commute it could be inconvenient. Also, Shockoe Bottom (not the Slip) has plenty of nicer apartments in the old tobacco warehouses but I've always found it a bit gritty and with too much noise from clubgoers on the weekends. There are some decent places further out in the suburbs, and Ashland (a small town about 20 minutes north) has that charming, small-town atmosphere, but for a 6-month stint you're best off staying central.

Incidentally, $1200 will get you a nice one- or two-bedroom place just about anywhere, aside from one of the newer high rises on the riverfront. Be sure to use the Richmond Crime Map to check what sorts and how many incidents of crime there are near a particular location.
posted by armage at 9:07 PM on January 4, 2010

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