Renting, 2013 edition

My lease at Beacon Lake will be up at the end of March, and while I have the option of resigning—at a higher rent rate—I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately looking for something else. There are a variety of reasons I don’t want to return. Mostly, a lot of little issues have sort of coagulated into a larger dislike.

First, I tried to buy a house. I figured I could afford a decently priced house since I’m doing just fine spending a decent amount on rent each month. But then the bank decided not to count a large chunk of my income, since, as I understood it, I’m in a risky profession. Anyone could lose their job at any time, but I guess it only really matters if you’re a professor. Also, despite the fact that I made a certain amount of money last year, the bank doesn’t agree that I’ll make anything near that this year. The bank said I can only afford $400/month in housing expenses.

Then I thought about renting a house. There are probably great, realistically priced houses out there for rent, but I have no clue how anyone goes about finding these places. I’ve used every Google search I can think of, asked tons of people for recommendations, and I have yet to find a house for rent in a good neighborhood at a decent price.

Next, I started looking at different apartments. I found probably half a dozen that non-student housing in good locations, but they were either disgusting when I went to visit (think bad smells) or priced way too high for what I felt they were worth. We’re talking $900+ for the Lansing area for a two bedroom apartment (and, in one instance, a one bedroom). Then, lots of place were asking me to pay all utilities and to pay extra for a car port or garage ($125/month at one place). Add that to the insanely screwed up pet fees every place wants (nonrefundable deposit and monthly pet rent, plus deductions from the security deposit for any damages by the pet), and I was looking at paying well over a grand a month. You hear that, bank? The apartment complexes think I’m good for more than twice what you said I could afford!

Today, I’m off to visit one last place. It’s a triplex over by the East Lansing library. It has some features I like, but also some I’m nervous about, so we’ll see. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll probably just resign at my current place and spend another year complaining about it.

For anyone else who is looking for apartments in the area, here’s a quick breakdown of my thoughts. My requirements were that the place was pet friendly, had two bedrooms (or one bedroom and something that could serve as an office), had a dishwasher, and had a washer and dryer. Covered parking was a huge want for me as well, as were reasonable pet fees. Lots of storage space was also something I found fairly important.

Beacon Lake: Fairly priced, and the apartments look nice, but they’ve skimped on the details. It’s quiet, but I pay a price for the silence—namely, no washer/dryer, dishwasher, or garbage disposal after 10 p.m. As there are some nights I’m not home until that late (many nights, actually) I often go two weeks or more without finding time to do laundry. The appliances themselves are shoddy, too. If I fill the washer to the line, the clothes don’t get clean, and I have to run every load through the dryer at least twice. I’ve also done more than my fair share of hand washing dishes after they’ve come out of the dishwasher. Maintenance also got cranky with me after calling the emergency line one night when my smoke alarm wouldn’t stop going off. They wanted me to just detach it and muffle it under a blanket until morning. Still, it’s roomy—I have two bathrooms and a huge walk-in closet. Plus, everyone in the front office knows me by name since I’ve made so many complaints!

Club Meridian: Apartments looked all right but were not nice. Both of the ones I visited smelled bad.

The Beaumont: Lovely little apartments with the option for having a solarium instead of a second (or third) bedroom. They’re overpriced, however, at $900+, and you are responsible for all amenities (this is also the place that wanted over $100/month for a garage with no other covered parking available). With no club house, pool, or work out room, I don’t understand where all the rent money goes.

Woodland Lakes: Another nice place, though again overpriced at $915 for the second story two bedroom, with no utilities covered and carports extra. Still, this was probably the classiest place I visited, and it’s dog friendly. If I had a bit more money, I think I could live here happily. It had energy efficient appliances.

There were a few other places, too, though after driving by I’d already decided against it (for no covered parking option, or for being in a bad location).

Here’s hoping this new place works out.

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