Home is Where the Hear... oh forget it.
June 7, 2010 9:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting mired in this bog of things falling through. Can I get a little mefi love (and advice?)

Context: I am finally at a point in my life where I can settle in (so to speak), get a place that I don't plan to leave for a long while, and turn an apartment in Portland, OR into a real home. I'm talking art on the walls, actual for-real plants (as long as I don't kill them), dinners with friends and neighbours... a HOME.

I work in the NW, and so have been apartment hunting for nearly 3 months in that area.

Currently: I am sharing a one bedroom with someone I don't really know but mostly get along with. Cheap rent. Not my place, so no inviting people over, etc.

Situation 1: Found a darling little one bedroom, a few blocks from where I work. Fell madly in love, but when they found out I had just started my full time job, they demanded a cosigner. I am a.) an orphan, b.) have a significant other but wouldn't cosign with them (I don't think they'd meet the rental criteria anyway). So that apartment was left behind, and I kept searching.

Situation 2. Flash forward through no less than a dozen other apartment walkthroughs, every one a disappointment.

Situation 2. Was shown a perfect corner one bedroom nearby the first apartment. Fell in love again, worked out a time to come back and fill out an application. Was called on that day (today) and told that someone else had expressed interest in the apartment, and since they had lived in the building for 4 years previously, the landlord felt he owed it to them to rent to them.

I just feel so tired, and emotionally drained. I know it sounds so melodramatic to be heartbroken over these apartments, but I have been on my own for a long time, and have always always longed for a place I could make my own. The thought of starting the search yet again is just exhausting.

How can I push past this, and be reasonable? Tell me stories where you didn't get the place/thing you wanted, and ended up with something better. I'd like to say that I know my perfect little NW Portland apartment is waiting for me, but even I know how ridiculous that sounds. :(
posted by thatbrunette to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You will find something you like, it just takes time (and lots of looking). For apt #1 could you offer to pay five or six months in advance and give them a sob story about being an orphan and having absolutly no one to co sign for you? Of course tell them how this situation made you grow up fast and take responsibility for yourself, and....you get the idea. Surely they could make an exception for you?
posted by MsKim at 10:18 PM on June 7, 2010

My second year in grad school I couldn't find a place and didn't have the energy for an exhaustive search, so I ended up moving in with an incoming classmate I knew I wouldn't like living with, who'd bought a place in what had been a miserable 1950's suburb of the city. It was so far from campus and from anywhere I liked to spend time that I had to take a 30 minute bus ride just to get outta the house and go to a cafe, but was now just an unpleasant neighborhood near out of business big box stores and greasy hamburger joints. By December, I'd been idly hunting for apartments on craigslist and couldn't find anything that seemed worth the trouble of moving amid an academically draining semester, and told my roommate/landlady I'd stay on until the end of the school year. That very night, at random, I saw a Very Inexpensive apartment listed on craigslist--with hardwood floors and a walk-in closet, in a neighborhood I'd always wanted to live in. I emailed--and called a few minutes later, too!--and went to look at it the next day, and took it on the spot, and it remains the most beautiful place I've ever lived. (Self link to a photo!)

A perfect place is indeed waiting for you--and to avoid things like your 2nd place getting snapped up, bring a checkbook with you at all times. If you absolutely love a place, offer a $200 deposit to save your spot until you decide for sure by [the next day/etc].
posted by soviet sleepover at 10:22 PM on June 7, 2010

I work for a web development company. I write a lot of proposals for projects that I know we'll likely never get. Some of it is boilerplate, copy/paste, but a lot of it is the result of hours of hard work pouring over their information and building a quote to fit them.

Needless to say, it's a rough blow when we find out we weren't selected. It's even worse when we fly to another state because we're short-listed and don't get the gig.

This doesn't exactly parallel, but I just steel myself and start pushing out more. Things come along and when something hits, it's only because we didn't stop trying.
posted by disillusioned at 11:20 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, I feel your frustration. A couple of years ago, I was looking for a place in Washington DC, and I looked at literally 15 places before I found one I would even consider living in. We're talking 200 sq ft studios with peeling linoleum floors, dank basement apartments with standing showers in the kitchen, and one basement apartment with no windows! But finally, place 15 was absolutely perfect: a really lovely apartment in my price range, in the neighborhood I wanted, right across the street from the bus that went straight to my office!

And I bet that now that you're planning to stay for a long time, your standards have risen, in ways you might not even really be aware of. You're not just looking for a place to stay - you're looking for a home! So it might take a little longer to find the right thing.

So...hang in there. You'll find something.
posted by lunasol at 11:48 PM on June 7, 2010

Best answer: House-hunting, job-hunting, dating and shopping for therapists are the four most exhausting and demoralizing types of quest I've undertaken in life. In retrospect, though, it's never taken me as many attempts to find a happy situation as I thought it would. But at the time, it always feels like it's taking forever. Hang in there.
posted by stuck on an island at 1:06 AM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I just got done apartment hunting in a new area, where my husband will be attending graduate school. Though we both have great credit and have been employed for years, since I don't yet have a job there, and he'll be a full time student, we were considered unemployed for the purposes of the rental application, and were required to:
  1. Provide a huge initial deposit equal to two month's rent.
  2. Provide bank account statements (including a statement for my richo husband's brokerage account, which could, theoretically, pay for about ten years of rent--you'd think that would be enough! But apparently not)
  3. Have his mother cosign.
All of this was annoying, of course. I would have rather not done any of it, and I felt like the bar was set ridiculously highly. Still, in this economy, it's not as if I don't understand the reticence of property owners to do this sort of thing.

I'm not entirely sure why you're reluctant to have your significant other cosign: it's not as if it's dangerous for you (the danger, in fact, is for them--if you stop paying your rent, they're the ones on the line). Consider finding a friend to cosign, alternatively. This is not an unreasonable or unusual request--which is why I think you might reconsider and really sit down and think about who you could get to cosign. There's no guarantee that a future prospective landlord won't ask the same thing from you.

That being said, there are two things that might make the process easier. First, consider renting privately through an individual found in the paper or on craiglist. Alternatively, call up a realtor in your area, tell them what you're looking for, and set up an appointment to see places with them. Because they'll be getting a commission out of the owner when you sign your lease, they'll be motivated to get you in a place.

Good luck!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:35 AM on June 8, 2010

For apt #1 could you offer to pay five or six months in advance and give them a sob story about being an orphan and having absolutly no one to co sign for you?

Oh, and paying six months or a years' rent in advance was the final way we were going to convince our new landlord to rent to us, if it came down to it. Remember, what they're worried about is money--if you have it, it should talk for you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:36 AM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you guys. :) Ms.Kim, I offered to pay a higher deposit, but they didn't want to go that route. It's already been rented to someone else now, too.

Soviet Sleepover, what a great place! The books add to it as well-- I know when I walk into an apartment viewing that I can consider it if I can picture bookshelves in the place.

Lunasol, you're probably absolutely right- I keep comparing the new places to places I've lived, and have gotten particular about some points, such as plenty of light. No more dark dungeony flats for me!

Stuck on an island, I couldn't agree with you more.
posted by thatbrunette at 7:27 AM on June 8, 2010

Best answer: Years ago I was struggling to disentangle myself from a string of bad relationships and had finally moved into my own (crappy) little apartment. It was at the back of the bottom floor of an old house, weirdly-shaped, and dinky. BUT IT WAS MINE. I lived there mostly happily for a month or so until one night when the manager knocked on my door. She sheepishly told me about the building's history as a target by a neighborhood peeping tom/panty snatcher. I tried to suck it up, but less than a month later was getting ready for bed when I noticed someone watching me through my bathroom window. When I saw him, he bolted around to the front of the house and ran away. I had to move again, clearly.

I had moved four times in six months and was exhausted and out of money. I was sleeping on the couch of a friend because I was too freaked out to sleep in my own place, and one morning as I left for work spotted a for rent sign on a darling little apartment complex. I called the number as soon as I got to work, saw the apartment that night, and it was perfect. I put in an application and waited hopefully by the phone for a couple of days until the landlord called to tell me they'd given it to another person who made more money than I did. Heartbroken, I resumed my search, finding nothing.

A week later I got a call from the landlord of The Perfect Place. The other tenant had backed out and did I still want the place? Hell yes I did! I moved in and lived there happily for almost 12 years.

It does work out. Also, FWIW, this all took place in Portland.
posted by hollisimo at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2010

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