Bedbugs, roaches, deep paralyzing renter's remorse. Oh my.
April 2, 2013 3:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm PERHAPS overly paranoid about renting an apartment. I need some advice from sane, non-traumatized people to make sure I take all necessary precautions while also not rendering myself homeless by default.

My boyfriend and I will be moving in together in Chicago this fall. I've lived in Chicago previously for five years while I was a student, and lived in a variety of dorms, apartments and short-term apartment sublets during that time.

My experience with sublets was mixed. I rented a variety of places for rents between $350/mo. and $650/mo., of varying quality. The first room I rented (the $350/mo.) apartment was a little shabby but fine, until cockroaches started crawling out of the bathroom and congregating around the leaking refrigerator. I fled that place as quickly as possible due to my insomnia-inducing terror of roaches, while still paying rent (as it was cheap and only a 3 month sublease). The exceedingly low rent would have been a warning sign-- except that rent would have actually been $500/mo. if I hadn't gotten the I'm-leaving-for-the-summer-and-desperately-need-a-subletter-NOW discount, and as I was subleasing from a friend (who liked the apartment and lived there for nine months afterward with purportedly no signs of roaches).

After that I lived in a $500/mo. apartment where I was on the one-year lease as a renter. Things were peachy until one revolving-door-roommate brought up the possibility of bedbugs and/or scabies. We went through about a month of calling in inspectors and doctor's appointments to inspect bites and monitor the signs of infestation while dealing with a landlord in denial who was skeptical either of these things could be possible. Since then, I've read that bedbugs are quite common, while bedbug infestations are rare-- but jesus christ do I ever not want bedbugs. The situation ended with no official evidence of bedbugs (though still a prevalence of bites on my roommate), but I eventually moved out and sublet my room to a friend who didn't really care and was convinced by the official evidence.

After that, I moved into a recently renovated $650/mo. sublet that was very pleasant, and never had any bug or rodent related difficulties, besides finding a dead cockroach carcass near the entrance to the building on one occasion. I had no signs of bedbugs, and took all the necessary precautions before moving in. I also nabbed another cheap sublet at some point in between that didn't appear to have any difficult bug problems either, though it was small and very similar in quality to my first, roach-infested apartment, such that visually you would not be able to tell which was the "sketchy" rental.

After all of this, I moved home for a period, and was planning on moving back to Chicago this spring, until plans fell through when our potential spring sublet had blood spots on the sheets and mattress which were in appearance identical to bedbug evidence. We declined to move in, lost our security deposit (there was never any formal lease, just email agreements, and I was renting sight-unseen), and ended up majorly changing my plans, thus deciding to move in later this year.

After all this I'm eager to be back in Chicago, but frankly feeling terrorized, exhausted and depleted by the constant specter of disgusting insects and infestations. In all honesty, I kind of feel like a crazy person-- the repeated run-ins and months of frantic Googling/e-mailing/inspecting have made me averse to even the most mild of possibilities there will be a bug issue in my place of living, to the extent that I even forfeited a job opportunity when it looked like my apartment would not be habitable. (Insane, but I was too tired to keep searching from afar not knowing if the place I went would have an issue I wouldn't notice until I lived there, and not wanting to subject an expensive professional wardrobe to damage by putting it in the dryer or oven multiple times.) Yeah, I feel crazy!

My boyfriend and I want to choose an apartment the right way. We were originally planning on spending about $1000-1300/mo. in rent on a one bedroom apartment this fall, but are willing to spend a little more on the right apartment. We saw a great place (for sublet) earlier this year in the Bucktown area that was big, spacious, and clean for about $1400. We aren't too concerned about which area of the city we live in-- my paranoia was telling me to rent in the suburbs to avoid this issue altogether, but the commute would be terrible. What can we do-- assuming we are on site to apartment hunt-- to take the greatest possible precautions that our apartment will be swell, and that we will lose the least possible money if there turns out to be an undetected problem? The other side of all this hassle has been that I've lost a lot of money on moving/lost security deposits/just plain discombobulation whenever one of these scenarios has arisen, and want to minimize that.

I do have preexisting general anxiety and depression, so upsets like this kind of throw my mental health until the issue is settled (i.e., I move out or throw a lot of money at the situation, usually).

Help, help, help. I know to some extent these issues are not always detectable or avoidable, but I can't live a life of sealing all my food and never leaving water in the sink and checking my sheets for blood spots every morning for an entire year. I will die of fatigue and lose my job. I really want to know how to be as vigilant as humanly possible when apartment hunting this fall-- a checklist of every single thing I should do would not be unwelcome. The names of any great landlords or rental companies in Chicago by MeMail would be a boon.

Previous advice I've gotten from browsing MeFi has been, 1) don't worry yourself crazy, but also don't dive headlong into a problematic apartment (especially re: bedbugs), 2) think about renting through a rental agent (? I don't know anything about how to do this, or how expensive it is), and 3) try moving up your upper-limit rent a bit to improve the quality of space. I've heard of $1400/mo. for a one bedroom as a safer threshold, but that was for a different city-- any advice for Chicago?

(To be honest, one or two cockroaches seen in an entire year would gross me out, but not drive me crazy, especially with someone else to kill and dispose of them. I understand that sometimes they come in from outside or venture in from an old wall and that's the cost of city life. But... well, that's all I've got.)
posted by stoneandstar to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bugs are part of the urban landscape, especially if your income isn't all that high. Are you sure you wouldn't be happier renting a house in an exurb and dealing with a commute? Chicago has nice trains... This is quite a lot of concern over an issue that isn't that easy to eliminate in city apartments with reasonable rents.

Why would you inspect your sheets for blood every morning? It's not like that's a bug-prevention method. You mention that you "feel crazy" twice (and "crazy" more than that!) and it would probably make more sense to address "crazy" rather than to lose sleep over largely pointless sheet inspections, so why not talk about this to whomever -- hopefully somebody? -- is treating the anxiety and depression?
posted by kmennie at 3:43 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm also pretty paranoid when it comes to bugs and renting. I saw many small silverfish in my previous apartment and sometimes earwigs in the fridge. I think that was mostly due to a leaky fridge. My current basement suite was fine for the a couple months until I discovered that sowbugs love coming out in spring (10-15 of them would be crawling around at once). I have a good landlord though, and after he'd installed a dehumidifier, sowbugs and spiders population dropped dramatically.

As far as bedbugs, I hope that since I occupy the same house (separate units) as the landlord, he would be more than willing to deal with an infestation if it does happen. For any new apartments or when I'm looking for my friends I make sure to check the bedbugregistry for sightings near the area.
posted by lucia_engel at 3:48 PM on April 2, 2013

There are bedbugs and roaches in the suburbs, also.

I'd stay away from big, multi-unit buildings. When I lived in Chicago, it was always my friends in multi-unit buildings (more than 4-5 units) that had issues with bugs moving from apartment to apartment and extermination was never very effective. I lived in buildings with 2 or 3 units and was fine. Plus, any problems can be fixed quickly if you have a good landlord.
posted by quince at 3:52 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The bugs can't tell how much you're paying in rent. Seriously, you can spend all you like to live here, but money doesn't mean jackshit in terms of never seeing a bug. If you find bugs, you call an exterminator, and the bugs go away. (In fact, my exterminator told me that bedbugs are a serious problem on the Gold Coast as of a few months back because the hoity-toity folk very frequently don't like to admit they have bugs. So there's that.)

Chicago Apartment Finders got me my last two apartments, and it saved me a lot of hassle. I recommend them. It cost nothing more, but it's quicker and easier, for sure.
posted by heyho at 3:54 PM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Checking my sheets isn't a bug prevention method, it's a "do we have bugs? I don't want to spread them to my job/my friends/my parent's house" fear. If this were a world where no one cared, I wouldn't worry about bedbugs too much (they're just bugs that bite, right?). But since they do, I am afraid of being a vector for them. Much like the herpes/cold sores debate, just because they're objectively not a big deal doesn't mean people won't be pissed at you for giving them to them. I guess I hadn't thought about it, but my major fear is feeling like a pariah.

Roaches, on the other hand, I do objectively hate, and don't want to deal with the general filth they produce.

I'm not constantly checking, but I am checking for the first 1-2 months I live in a place, and when I notice strange bites. My last string of apartments has been about 50% bug problems, so I am really just asking for advice as to how I can minimize risk (hopefully to less than 50%).
posted by stoneandstar at 3:58 PM on April 2, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, but I have thought on several occasions that if I want to live in the city, my acute fear of cockroaches is pretty debilitating, and I'm open to suggestions about what to do about that.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:59 PM on April 2, 2013

Best answer: I've lived in Chicago in a series of rentals of varying quality over the last decade, and here's some anecdota that I hope makes you feel better.

- I have a pretty wide network of friends and acquaintances and am aware of exactly one bedbug apartment infestation in the past ten years. (In Pilsen, fwiw.) You're probably aware that they can be picked up in any number of ways and that moving into a sterile apartment is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with them. But it's rare, and there's not much you can do, so I can only suggest finding other things to worry about.

- I can't recall ever seeing cockroaches in any apartment I've lived in, so I would hazard you've had unusually bad luck. I've avoided garden apartments, which might have something to do with that.

- Bugs are a whole-building issue (i.e., if one unit discovers bugs, there's a pretty good chance the other units have cause for concern). A building with some owners' presence may be better maintained---this could be an owner-occupied two-flat or a condo building with a unit for rent. I lived in the latter for a while and had no complaints about this.

- Newer buildings or recently renovated buildings are going to be easier to keep clean than the vintage buildings that I always seemed to gravitate towards.

- This may be obvious, but moving into an apartment currently rented by clean people may help you feel better about all of this. If you go with one of the apartment-finding services (I've used and would recommend North Clybourn Group), you will probably be shown currently-rented apartments, which should provide some basis for judgement.

(Bonus tip: try to meet/talk to the landlord if you go through one of these agencies to get a sense of how responsive they'll be to any issues that arise. If you can't, assume the worst about any apartments with old/broken-looking appliances.)
posted by ndg at 4:34 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I live in NYC. I have had both a bedbug infestation, and a German cockroach infestation. They weren't so bad. Don't panic.

Having bedbugs, practically speaking, is like having an indoor mosquito infestation: annoying as hell and itchy as the dickens, but it's not like head lice or crabs or something. You won't go to the office with critters crawling out of your hair. I had the good fortune of having a relatively mild case that I was convinced was some chronic allergic reaction for weeks until a dermatologist incidentally told me I had bedbug bites. I called the landlord, the exterminator came, I washed all my clothes and sheets, and the bugs were gone for good. The toughest part was housing my cats for the weekend.

Roaches I can only really blame myself for, as I had an extended blue period in which my kitchen cleaning dwindled. I kept seeing small roaches on the counter, but when they started popping up in the microwave and toaster I went nuclear on them. Vacuumed up hundreds I found hiding behind cabinets and the fridge, washed everything, and then laid down 3 kinds of (astoundingly, feline safe!) poison. They were gone within a week and haven't returned. This was with stuff you can find in any grocery or hardware store: traps, gel, spray.

If I can beat bugs, you can too. And I have no shortage of anxiety either.

(Note also that bedbugs, unlike lice or fleas, CANNOT travel on your person, pets, or clothing from place to place barring unusual or extreme circumstances. They will hitch rides, sometimes, on your luggage, and definitely are a big problem inside furniture, but generally they just go from apartment to apartment through the walls, or from building to building via furniture.)
posted by demons in the base at 4:45 PM on April 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: While I'm not in Chicago, I have to say that, uh, this is like reading a question straight out of my own head.

I, too, have a paralyzing fear of these things and have experienced an insomnia-inducing critter infestation. Mine was the dreaded house centipede. It was a time so marked by an anxiety spike that it's hard for me to even type the dread H.C. phrase, or think the phrase without spinning headlong into a panic attack. I googled the everliving crap out of the phrase, checked the walls a million times per day, sprayed enough bug spray to give me lung cancer and started taking Xanax during this time.

So, I totally get where you're coming from.

I eventually got the hell out of that place and found a much better apartment. And a therapist. I live in a multi-unit building, but did a few things when looking for a place to help alleviate my fears. Aside from the obvious precautions (googling the location, asking the leasing agent outright, etc) I did the following and they seemed to help.

- If you're very interested in the place, go there without the leasing agent present and try to talk to some of the residents. Just make small talk and mention you're interested in renting here - "ever had any issues with bugs, anything like that?" Unlike a leasing agent, they have nothing to lose, and will very likely tell you the truth about any previous issues. You can also ask how helpful the landlord is in general and get an honest answer.

- Make sure there's a clause in your prospective lease about pest removal, should anything come up. If it's not in there, make them add it and have all parties initial it at the lease-signing. This way, if you ever had an issue and they didn't want to deal with it, you could pull the paperwork and require them to help, or, if they refused, break your lease and move.

- When viewing the apartment, open up all the cabinets, under the sink, check behind the fridge, etc. Don't be scared of doing this or worry that it's off putting to the person showing you the place. Check for any evidence of dampness, which can attract bugs, and/or evidence of the bugs themselves (dead ones, droppings, or, you know, live ones making a run for it).

- Also check for holes around the pipes under the sinks. When I moved into my current place, there was a roughly hewn hole cut out around the pipe instead of a tightly cut circle. This turned out to be the spider/silverfish freeway. I used spray expanding foam around the pipe to remedy the problem and keep the bugs out. I've since seen maybe 1 or 2.
posted by woolly at 4:58 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

You've gotten a lot of great suggestions above. One more: do you have any friends who live in areas of the city you might want to live in? Ask them whether they have bug issues, and then ask if they know of apartments open in their buildings. At least that way, you have some assurances that you're not moving into a building with a known issue.

Also, don't live in a building that also has a restaurant in it if you can help it. That's where I've had the worst roach (and rodent) issues, since they're drawn to food sources. And check any apartment you look at for holes in the baseboards, inside cabinets, etc., since one of the best ways to prevent pests is to seal off the entrances they use to get in. Not foolproof, but it might make you feel better.
posted by decathecting at 5:52 PM on April 2, 2013

Best answer: "Oh, but I have thought on several occasions that if I want to live in the city, my acute fear of cockroaches is pretty debilitating, and I'm open to suggestions about what to do about that."

Therapy. Follow all reasonable precautions as previous posters mention, and if it's really bothering you, a therapist can teach you some tricks to manage the anxiety.

FWIW, I'd never seen a cockroach in my life until my mid-twenties, when I moved away from California. I've never seen a cockroach in California, ever. Not that we don't have other bugs (spiders, ants, etc.) - just not cockroaches. I don't think we have them (or at least, not nearly as much). So if you're looking for excuses to move to the West Coast... there's one.

I now live somewhere where there are cockroaches, and I find them absolutely appalling, mostly due to their grotesque size and clumsy flying. I completely sympathize. We have roach "traps" (little plastic things with tasty poison in them) in our cabinets, which help. Also, our cats eat the big ones - which is great 'cause then there's not even any clean up - they're just GONE. Get a 'roach eating cat?
posted by jrobin276 at 6:26 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my previous comment I am of course not saying you should casually move into a place with known bug infestation. But don't let your fear get in the way of picking a place you like, because even a civilian like me can quickly and easily exterminate a large roach infestation with nothing more than an afternoon of Googling tips.
posted by demons in the base at 6:32 PM on April 2, 2013

Have you considered moving into a (clean) temporary place, or even taking an extended trip to Chicago to actually view apartments before renting one? I just moved across the country, and that's what I did.

1) Take trip, view temporary place, rent temporary place.
2) Move into temporary place, view permanent places.
3) Move into permanent place.
posted by woodvine at 7:08 PM on April 2, 2013

Best answer: I live in Chicago and really your budget should be very adequate for a good one-bedroom with a landlord who cares and takes care of the place. I won't even try finding an apartment without a rental agent -- it's more than worth it. Pay attention to Yelp reviews, as the best ones truly want to help and the worst want to shove you into the first cheap place they show you. Renters Refuge was very good to me three months ago. Pay attention to who lives in the building (partying renters who have flea-ridden couches on the porch?), how many residents (fewer residents = less people to bring in bugs), and if any of the units are owned (owners have more of a stake in keeping the building in good condition). I have lived in rentals for the past ten years and have never seen a bedbug or cockroach.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 7:54 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a little off the wall, but you might try reading William Gass's short story "Order of Insects" (part of his collection In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, and yes, "heart" appears twice in the title). It's about a woman who moves to a new home and is at first disgusted by cockroach remains that she finds, until she learns more about the insects and their ways of life, and finally comes to grips with them. Of course, like most good literature it's about a lot more than that. But it might open the door to thinking about roaches as more than simply disgusting vermin. It's not as if they actually pose any serious threat to your health, unless you're allergic to them. You can get rid of them with an exterminator, and I wouldn't encourage keeping a roach colony in your dwelling, but they are interesting critters who have done very well over the millions of years that their species has been around.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If spreading bedbugs is your main concern, you can always buy a Packtite and bake your clothes/personal belongings at 140 degrees before putting them on. It will be less inconvenient than running the dryer and will be much gentler on your stuff. Also, you can nuke shoes, books, etc. safely - super handy if you have a problem but need to move.

But also, while I totally get where you're coming from on this analogy (I have similar anxieties), bed bugs are really not that much like herpes. Bed bugs are curable, first of all. Also, they do not typically spread person-to-person. There is a definitive blood test for HSV; bed bugs often live in a world of frustrating ambiguity. And finally, while you can always abstain from sex and get along fine, abstaining from living anywhere means you are homeless, which as you alluded to is a much bigger deal.

More practically, I think your absolute best bet is to ask a lot of questions about the building management. I don't know Chicago tenant law but in NYC and NJ the landlord is responsible for paying for bed bug treatments; they can still be annoying to deal with, though, so having someone who will be on your side and act with respect to your shared interest in a bug-free apartment will be invaluable. Find a building with a super/landlord who is not a sketchball and with whom the tenants report positive interactions. Then sprinkle some diatomaceous earth lightly in any nearby cracks and crevices (and caulk them if you want to be extra p-noid), perform your favorite good luck rituals, set a couple of passive sticky-trap-type detectors near your bed, and make some appointments with your therapist. Good luck.

P.S., as someone who has lost sleep this way, if you are doing any obsessive reading of Bedbugger forum posts, this is the equivalent of googling symptoms on WebMD. IMO, it's way healthier (and more effective) to set monitors and let them do their jobs.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:56 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Note also that bedbugs, unlike lice or fleas, CANNOT travel on your person, pets, or clothing from place to place barring unusual or extreme circumstances.

I don't mean to freak you out at all, but knowledge is power... And just for the record, this is not wholly true. Bedbugs absolutely can and do hitch rides on your clothing and in luggage—it's why you're never supposed to set your bags down on the floor when you're in a hotel room. Never, never, never do that. Set it up higher, off the floor. (And never "rescue/recycle/reuse" furniture that you see left by the curb. *shudder* Those are free for a reason!)

How do you suppose bedbugs make it from one building to the next? I mean, seriously. In NYC a few years back when the bedbugs seemed to be taking over, Barney's, Macy's, and Bloomingdale's had infestations. It happened because people/merchandise transported them in. Think about it. Same with hotels, obviously.

If you get bugs, it's not your fault. I mean, sure, it's "your fault" for living in a world that also hosts insects, but honestly, it's not like these are killer bugs... they're just fucking annoying, and it's why pest-control companies exist. (I can give you the name of an excellent guy in Chicago if the need ever truly arises; he's the bedbug DUDE in our city—he has a PhD in entomology, he teaches other exterminators, and he knows his shit inside and out. One treatment of pet-safe chemicals and heat, and my problem vanished immediately.)

For real; try to let go. If there's one thing city-living has taught me, it's that I don't have control over everything and everyone around me. You don't currently have a bug problem, but because you're a little obsessed with it anyway you probably have a control issue that you should address. Work on letting go of that. If a problem crops up, deal with it in a level-headed fashion and stop letting it control you.
posted by heyho at 12:41 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you mostly were living in ... well... shitholes. I'm sorry but $500 a month in Chicago? Christ, studios here are going for $1000/month.*

Shitholes are going to run a much higher than average chance of having bugs. Renovated shitholes just means they put granite countertops on top of the rot.

The good news is you're going to now have two incomes, which means you can actually live like a human in this stupid-ass city. Get a pricier apartment in a decent neighborhood and odds are you'll be truly just fine.

*I'm 10 years in, never had any bugs except those giant centipede bastards (but they eat all the other bugs, and then my cat eats them). But I've never, ever, paid less than 750 in rent, all these years, and that really seems to be the dividing line between decent and shithole.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:55 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

(I totally sympathize with your roach fears though. Had roaches back in NYC, and it was absolutely debilitatingly terrifying. They are devil incarnate. Only got over it because my exposure to them was so thorough it became desensitizing.)
posted by like_a_friend at 9:57 AM on April 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you so much, everyone. I actually appreciate the confirmation that I've been living in shitholes, because if paying more means not living amongst dynasties of cockroaches and rot, I will gladly do so. It's hard to suss out what's normal when you're renting for the first time in a student neighborhood with other students.

I'm definitely cool with paying more on the order of $750/mo., and we're going to go through a rental agent, I think, at least for the first time. We just went through a month of using Craigslist and finding squat, so I'll take all the help I can get. I know money isn't a guarantee against anything, but it does seem to yield more apartments that look more resistant to infestations leaking in (fewer holes in the walls and floor, less flaking paint, &c.).

I do still somewhat doubt my sense of what's decent/not. I put my criteria into Chicago Apartment Finders to see how it works, and this place came up:

... looks really nice, and is extremely cheap? Is it too small? Does the location (far north side) make it undesirable? Why is it so affordable??

Anyway, thanks again! Really helpful advice.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:14 AM on April 3, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, and after reading more about obliterating bedbugs, I feel much more calm about it-- more on the "risk management" side of things. It seemed so hopeless when I thought they'd be crawling through all my dry-clean-only clothes which would be destroyed on high heat, and my books which would be half-eaten, &c. But the Pack-Tite and the dry clothes in the dryer and the oven methods are making me feel better. Also, all my landlords up to this point have been the severely-in-denial "there's no WAY there are bedbugs but I guess I'll come take a glance" type, and I didn't trust them to actually get anyone in, let alone multiple times. It's kind of crazy to me that you can be a landlord in a major city and not know basic facts about bedbug infestations.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The questions you're asking about that apartment are tough to answer if one doesn't actually live right in that area, but it's an excellent question for the company that's listing it, so I'd call them. They'll be able to talk about the area, and it's a free (to you) service, so ask them everything you need to know; that's what they're there for.

If you like Bucktown, you may want to look into Logan Square. I lived there for a little more than ten years (never once saw a roach in either apartment!), and it's a good mix of Mexican/White/Puerto Rican/Polish people who are pretty darn friendly in my experience — families, arty-types, professional-types, hipsters, lots of bicyclists. The blue-line el goes underground there, which is quieter, and it runs between O'Hare and the Loop; mighty convenient for some. It's also just a short hop to the expressway if you drive. I met many of the best friends I've ever had there. A few MeFites live there, too!
posted by heyho at 1:06 PM on April 3, 2013

People are paying $1000 a month for a studio? In CHICAGO??? Maybe in like the Gold Coast, but dude.

I pay $405 a month, including utilities; have never seen a cockroach. (One mouse, one time, after a slobby neighbor moved in.) $1400 will be more than enough money to get you a really nice one BR, especially since you don't care about living in trendy neighborhoods.

Also, I cannot emphasize enough the value of finding a good landlord. Talk to your neighbors. Our building has crazy low turnover (like, one unit a year, in a 20-unit building), and I had a prospective tenant ask me about the landlords once when he saw me come into the building. I was very happy to rave about them - just like I was very happy to post alllll over the internet when my last landlord was terrible. If you have a good landlord, these bug problems are so easy to mitigate. My friends had bedbugs recently (in Bridgeport, and FWIW they're the only case I know of in the city) and it was not a big deal at all thanks to their cooperative landlord.

As for that particular apartment, it's cheap because of the location. (It also might be small, who knows.) I like that area actually, but the Jarvis stop can be kind of dicey at odd hours, and it smells weird. Not too much going on, either, but that may not be a priority anyway. The fire station is right there, and let me tell you, living across from a fire station, I hear sirens in my dreams. When I leave town I hear phantom sirens for days. Arrrrgh.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

People are paying $1000 a month for a studio? In CHICAGO??? Maybe in like the Gold Coast, but dude.

LOL. I don't know if anyone's *paying* it, but plenty of landlords are *charging* it.

Gold Coast, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, Lakeview, Roscoe, Logan, Wicker, Bucktown, Ukie ... I've been aggressively hunting for about 2 months now and have found studios at $995 or thereabouts in all of those neighborhoods. You can find things cheaper, still, of course. But currently I have friends struggling to find decent sized 1beds under 1,200.

Anywhere north of the city and east of Western? Rent is sky. Damn. High. these days. My neighborhood isn't very trendy at all, but my rent's only affordable 'cause I've been in this place so damn long and there are caps on rent increases. My studio would be renting at $930 if my landlords could convince me to abandon it.

All of this changes with a roommate or a partner. 2 incomes or one quite high one gets you whatever you damn well please.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:12 PM on April 3, 2013

Man that's depressing. Haven't looked at apartments in a few years - but man even in 2010 I don't think you could find a 1BR that cost $1200 in Ravenswood, unless it had in-unit laundry or a garage or something crazy. I felt like my apartment was, like, moderately priced. Maybe we won't be moving this summer after all...
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:45 PM on April 3, 2013

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