How do I choose which apartment to rent?
May 15, 2007 3:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose between two apartments for rent, and decide if I would like living in a highrise in the city centre.

I've been offered two apartments (which makes me very lucky, as the rental market here is very tight), and am having trouble choosing between them. In particular, I'm trying to work out if I'd like living in the CBD. What factors should I be considering in this choice?

Some background: I'm female, mid-20s, work office hours (rarely leave work before 6), often have things on after work, but tend to be home on weekends. I like to cook and to garden (although only in pots). I don't drive, and I walk to work. I live in Melbourne, Australia.

Apartment 1 is in an inner suburb (about 3km from the city, where I work). It's on the ground floor at the back of a three-storey block of nine, in what seems to be a fairly quiet street. It has two small courtyards. It's about seven or eight minutes walk from one tram line and one train line. The nearest main street has nice shops and cafes.

Apartment 2 is in the central business district. It's in an eight storey building, at the front of the building with a very small balcony. It's in the middle of lots of public transport options, but as it's in the business area I don't think there'd be much life around there on weekends. It's a nicer apartment though - it has carpets, and is lighter than apartment 1. However, it's also more than 10% more expensive, and is at the very top of my budget.

I've only ever lived in houses, not apartments, so please tell me if I'm missing something obvious. Both have enough space, decent kitchens and adequate bathrooms. I will have one more chance to see the first apartment before I decide.
posted by une_heure_pleine to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the first obvious thing is: how much would you be spending on trains to get from the suburbs to your job every day? When you take that into account (not to mention the time and stress of commuting, of course), you might see that the city apartment looks like a better option.
posted by reklaw at 3:56 AM on May 15, 2007

Best answer: Some things you might want to think about:

- Apt 1 is ground floor, which potentially means more chances of a break in and less privacy. Crime's hardly a problem in Melbourne, but would it worry you?

- How hard is it going to be to move into Apt 2? Can you get your stuff in without problems? Any furniture to move up stairs or lifts?

- How easy will it be for friends to visit you at either locale?

I've always had a hankering to live in the CBD. Maybe give it a go and see how it works out?
posted by outlier at 3:58 AM on May 15, 2007

Noise? Especially early morning/late night?
I've only lived in houses/quite small industrial areas, and I just helped my ex move into her new apartment in the inner city.

First thing I noticed was the noise, mainly motorway hum, constant traffic, one thing to consider about living in the immediate inner city. This is in Auckland, NZ by the way. Also accessability, in terms of parking for friends and the like. She's a 20 year old apprentice though, so obviously budget wise she has something fairly cheap.
posted by chrisbucks at 4:00 AM on May 15, 2007

Just judging from your lifestyle clues, it sounds like you would do well in apartment 1. If Melbourne is getting like Sydney the CBD apartments are increasingly shared by itinerant (travellers and international student) residents so there is less community, which I think leads to less consideration.
In a small block with a bit of space you get the neighbourhood vibe.
But if you aspire to porn star lifestyle, a CBD flat is the only way to go!
posted by bystander at 5:17 AM on May 15, 2007

As reklaw mentioned, you should definitely take travel costs or lack thereof into account.

But the fact that you consider both options to be pretty near the top of your budget might be somewhat worrisome, at least for some definitions of budget, and you might want to think about dialing back your expectations even further. Remember that future financial success is contingent on your capacity for present sacrifice.
posted by The Confessor at 5:37 AM on May 15, 2007

Best answer: I say, pick the neighborhood that you like being in the most. When you come home from work, it's a drag to have to go somewhere else for...whatever you might like to do when you're not working.

/never been to Australia, but I have rented a lot of apartments
posted by desuetude at 6:02 AM on May 15, 2007

I would think part of the appeal of living anywhere is the proximity of basic needs like grocery stores, restaurants, green space, etc. I try to live within walking distance of groceries at the very least.
posted by JJ86 at 6:07 AM on May 15, 2007

I don't know anything about Melbourne, but during my freshman year of college I lived in a dorm in the business district of DC (two blocks from IMF and World Bank headquarters, a few more from K Street), and it was pretty depressing. Everything closed at 5 or 6 and the weekends were completely dead. Also there were no grocery stores in comfortable walking distance. It was very quiet and clean, but unfriendly and not the kind of place where I would choose to live.
posted by puffin at 6:23 AM on May 15, 2007

Good suggestions. My input:

Is the one in the 8 story building on the top floor, or will you be living under someone? It's quieter to live under another tenant who has carpet than hardwood floors. Non-carpeted floors upstairs results in hearing every footstep and even some conversation, depending on what other soundproofing is built in.

If you have time before deciding, hang around each place for a while in the evening and on the weekend. Parking nearby with a friend can be a good idea. I have done this with most houses I have bought or apartments I have rented. Some neighborhoods become much different once evening comes.

What will it be like to take walks from each place? Safe? Easily navigable walking areas? Or do you have to go through some unsavory parts to get around? If there are some iffy areas, you may feel like a prisoner in your own home.

As suggested above, regarding getting your furniture in: measure measure measure if you have anything you can't live without, which may not fit. Remember though: most couches can be broken down for moving by removing the back. It may not be obvious; a furniture store can advise.

How's the parking? Even if you don't own a car, you might get one later, plus visitors might need to park. I once owned a house on a busy thoroughfare where parking wasn't allowed. I had a driveway for my car, but it was always a pain when I had anyone over to explain that they had to park around the corner, or across the street in a business parking lot. I didn't realize how much that bothered me until I moved and didn't have to do that any more.

Apartment 1 may be busier on the weekend with other residents, kids, etc. But Apartment 2 may be quieter, because the area may be practically empty. That might be a good thing, as long as the Apartment 2 area does not fill in with unsavory types once the daily business people have gone.

Another note about living under or over other tenants: I live on the ground floor of a 3 story carpeted building. I wanted the ground floor, because I would rather live under someone than worry about making too much noise for someone under me. I often end up with a house full teens, and they don't think about how much noise they make running around the apartment.

If Apartment 2 is at the end of your budget, will you still have enough to decorate, and buy window treatments, if needed? Is there much financial difference in what each apartment needs to make it your own?

Can you talk to other tenants and see how responsive the landlord is in resolving problems? You don't want to wait a week to have a plumbing problem fixed or get a faulty appliance replaced.

Well, it sounds like you have a "good" problem. Good luck. Let us know what you decide.
posted by The Deej at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2007

... and Nthing what others said about closeness to shopping, etc. Even though I have a car and drive most everywhere, my apartment is within a half mile of a grocery store, our city's only major mall, a 10 screen movie theater, a Target store, numerous restaurants, and other various specialty shops. It beats having to always plan ahead to stop at the store on the way home, because, once home, it's a pain to leave again.
posted by The Deej at 6:46 AM on May 15, 2007

I agree that you should try to live in the neighborhood you like to hang out in, otherwise it can feel like you've never left work.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:35 AM on May 15, 2007

I think the best thing about living in more central urban areas is the proximity to other things (cafes, grocery, bookstore). If your CBD turns into a ghost town on the weekend, I feel like you'd miss out on a lot of the things that make living in a high density area cool. I think I'd lean toward the first option- you've got tram access and nearby shops. As was mentioned above, smaller apartment communities are often more friendly. If you have room to grow a few things at number one, that would be my choice.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:42 AM on May 15, 2007

Best answer: I was an inner-suburban house dweller until moving into a 13th-floor flat in Brisbane's CBD. I loved it. I had a huge balcony, though, and was right at the edge of the Botanical Gardens and right by the river, so I never noticed the lack of a yard - in fact I gained a very well-tended 20 hectare yard! Without these my experience might have been very different. Are there any nice parks nearby to compensate?

Do you go out much? A major difference I found was that I stopped going out for huge nights in the city, because I didn't have to worry about cabs etc. Going out for one or two drinks was a lot more feasible, and people tended to come over a lot more (before and after going out, or just shopping, or after work), so I was very social living there. I tended to go out more as well - cos why not go to the museum when it's only a 15 minute walk, by and across the river? Brisbane CBD has a lot of facilities for residents, though - check out the proximity to the supermarket and other things you'll regularly need.

Which one has the better kitchen??
posted by goo at 9:57 AM on May 15, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I signed the lease on the city apartment today, after going back to both and realising it was much nicer. The suburban one was smaller, darker and further from public transport than I remembered. Still not sure that the city lifestyle will be for me, but at least it'll be an adventure.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 3:15 AM on May 16, 2007

Congrats! I agree with the upthread comment that you may find your social life does fine by being a place that's easy to stop by after work.

Everything in life is a tradeoff. If you end up hating hating hating it, you can always look for something else later.

Have fun!
posted by The Deej at 6:43 AM on May 16, 2007

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