The highs and lows of apartment hunting

Months before our trip, I was on a bunch of sites looking for potential places to live.  I knew those places wouldn’t stil be available (probably) by the time we got to February, but it gave me a good idea of location and price.  In the few days before we headed out week before last, I made a ton of calls and sent a ton of emails, all to make sure we’d have actual places to look at in the five days we had.  The worst thing I could think of was the scenario where we show up, there’s nothing to check out, or they’re all terrible or too expensive or not available, and we end up coming back to Annapolis without locking down our next home.  I did NOT want to rent a place without seeing it first, and I did NOT want to have to move across the country without an actual destination (like we did when we moved San Diego, in our early twenties, young and stupid).

Luckily, we had plenty to see.  Luckilier (so much better than more luckily), we found our perfect house on Day 1 and our very good backup on Day 2.  In between, we saw some good, some bad, and some so-so places.

Our very first showing (viewing?) was at an apartment complex on Broadway, right downtown.  The location was perfect, the way the buildings were set up was really nice, they have underground parking available, and the apartments were cute.  Cute is the operative word here – they were small.  One of the things we were looking for (John in particular) was more space.  In the Annapolis apartment, we live and work in the same room.  When we’re done working for the day, we don’t get to close the door on work and walk away.  It makes it very hard to leave work behind, so one of the things we were looking for was a place with a room we could call the office – just the office.  This apartment complex didn’t have anything with quite enough room.

Our next place was an old house (1860s or something), yellow with a red door (I love that), big porch – it was a nice looking house, looked charming, in a good spot, right on the edge of downtown.  When we got there, the apartment manager had thrown open the front and back doors.  Welcoming, right?  No – we’re pretty sure she walked in, reeled in disgust, and opened the doors (and windows) hoping to dispel the animal odors.  This house was old, yes, and it was quirky, but it hadn’t been kept up well enough to make the quirkiness work for us, and the smell made it an almost immediate no.  It smelled like animals had peed all over it.  “We’ll have that taken care of by next week.”  Oh, no, you won’t.  Link.

We didn’t have another appointment until 4pm (and it was only 10 after 1), and we were beginning to feel a little nervous; what if we don’t find a place in the only five days we have to look?  We drove around the corner, spotted a very cute house for rent that hadn’t shown up on any of our searches, called, and got someone to come out and show it to us 15 minutes later.

It’s so cute (spoiler: it’s the house we’re renting, so you’ve already seen the pictures), and since it was a real possibility, we felt a ton better.

Our 4pm appointment was not so positive.  It was in the hills in the southern part of Eugene, and the area was beautiful.  The house was at least 100 years old, and it was a bit more remote, a bit more secluded.  Unfortunately, it was terrifying.  This house is where horror movies are made.  The owners don’t keep up the outbuildings (there was an overgrown shed and a garage with the roof caving in), and the renters aren’t allowed in the basement (basically a cellar) – they didn’t say why.  Perhaps to hide the bodies?  There was a giant round grate in the floor, I assume for heating, but I just kept imagining scary long fingers reaching up through it or carpets of bugs scurrying out.  Speaking of bugs, the sink hadn’t been used on so long that there was a little spider living in a web in it, and a freakishly large spider (okay, it was no bigger around than the circle made when I touch my forefinger to my thumb) hanging out in the hallway near the scary grate.  Just sitting there.  The eaves (which you could see outside the upstairs windows) were festooned with webs and nests and bugs and things, and the washer and dryer were in an enclosed porch off the kitchen that leaks, judging by the water stains on the top of the washer.  Also, just one bathroom that was…fine, I guess.  There was a cupboard under the stairs, but I was more inclined to make People Under The Stairs jokes than Harry Potter jokes, and there was a strange grate/opening in the wall near the floor of the master bathroom that overlooked the stairs: perfect for grabbing the hair of the unwary person climbing the stairs.  So….no.  No, no, and no.  Here’s a link to it.  The link we followed (that I can’t find) had more (and better) pictures, and the pictures at this link don’t do the scary parts scary justice, but I’m sure you get the idea.

After that place, we quit for the day.  Two absolutely nots, one yes PLEASE, and one probably not, but in a pinch, maybe.

The next day at 9am, we met a property manager at a duplex in the southern end that was interesting, but didn’t grab us.  It would do, but it was kind of dark.  The living room would have been cool – vaulted ceiling, big windows – and the kitchen was nice, but the bedrooms and bathrooms were on the lower level (sort of a walkout ranch) and were kind of dark.

Our 10am appointment was at a brand new complex a little west of downtown.  If this complex had had ANYTHING interesting in walking distance, it would have been a real contender.  As it was, it became our first safety apartment (until we found a better safety apartment).  Aside from being a little too remote, it was a crazy nice place.  Construction had JUST finished, so everything was as new as it gets.  The fitness center was a really nice, with a giant TV and space to use it for classes.  You could call up zumba or strength videos right there and use the space for them.  In addition to the pool and the tennis and basketball courts, they had a pet wash station and a bike repair station.  Of course, they had bike storage.  EVERY complex in Oregon has bike storage.  The apartments were really nice, too, but they didn’t have any three-bedrooms.  Could work, but not perfect.  The house was still better.

After that place, we looked at a house on a hill that could have been good.  It had a nice garage, the front yard was nicely landscaped, and the top floor was pretty good.  The bottom floor was a little creepy, though.  There were odd-looking doors in odd places, not enough light.

We spent the afternoon checking out a couple of complexes.  One was too far away from downtown, but it was super nice.  We looked at a two-bedroom loft apartment there that would have been really nice. It was also the most expensive apartment we looked at.

The other complex we looked at that afternoon became our actual backup.  It’s our true safety apartment if something happens with the house.  If we end up in our safety apartment, we will have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, brand new, beautiful kitchen, full-size laundry in unit.  We will be very happy there (even though we really want our house).

So Friday had 1 eh, 2 nos, 1 possibility, and 1 yes.

We had one more place to see Saturday morning.  The pictures weren’t that promising, and we almost canceled it, but we showed up anyway.  The woman who showed it to us told it was centrally-located.  What does that mean exactly?  It’s centrally-located in relation to three malls.  So convenient!  Three bedrooms, one bathroom, super-nice yard, big garage.  Unfortunately (again), this was the other smelly place.  We walked in and were olfactorily assaulted.  No exaggeration – the house smelled like someone took a handful of cat poop and smeared it on the walls, in every room.  There was no sign of cat poop or anything disgusting.  The house was clean, but the smell was intolerable.  The property manager swore it didn’t smell like that a week before.  Not sure I believe her, but it made the place a big ol’ NO.

Happily, we’d found the place we wanted and a very acceptable backup (with more than one unit available), so we got online and submitted our application, and we were able to relax for the rest of our trip.  That also made it possible for us to spend Monday hanging out in Portland, which was very cool and which I will tell you about later.

I wish I’d taken more pictures so I could show you the awful ones, but at the time, it seemed silly to take pictures of places we were definitely not going to rent.  Oooh, but I can give you the links….links have been added for all except our house and the backup complex because I’m not posting my potential addresses online.