Unpublished Opinion

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Suburban Living

I have lived in five different apartments in my life. As a result of the search for those various living arrangements, I have viewed a ton of apartments. I have seen a wide variety of places, as well as landlords/rental agents. None of that training could have prepared me, however, for what Prince E and I experienced yesterday. (We are not moving until July, but have been looking around at various suburbs to find one that I don't hate, since his commute home to the city is killing him and I love him and all).

Stop 1: At Happy High Rise* we were met by Office Lady, who was friendly, but did not smile. She went over all the amenities, etc., as is expected, and then handed us the keys to three empty two-bedroom apartments. We hesitated. She is just letting us go by ourselves? No high-pressure sales tactics? No directing us towards the large kitchen, so that we don't notice the small bedrooms? Nope. We got to look at them ourselves. We loved her. She was the best "saleslady" of the day. As we rode up in the elevator, I told Prince E about how in some areas of Chicago where there are a lot of carjackings of car salesmen out on test drives, the dealership just lets the customer take the car out on their own. I wondered if that applied to apartment viewing? We loved the apartments there, as they were very spacious and had washer/dryers. I think I may have actually hugged the washing machine. The building is also near the commuter train I will be taking to the city. I also received three tootsie rolls and starbursts from a bowl in the rental office.

Stop 2: At the Snooty Sprawling property, we were met by Mushroom Lady (it has to do with her hair). Although we had an appointment, it was quite clear they were not expecting us. (oh and this was where I fell). Mushroom lady mentioned 19 times that the property had won some award. They showed us one of their model apartments, not one that we could actually rent. There were cheesy decorations throughout, including beach balls in the bathtub, which still makes no sense to me. She took us to the laundry room and remarked how empty it was, even though it was a Saturday. Snooty Sprawling property is about a mile from the train station, so I was eager to see the fitness center to see if it would balance out the walking-to-the-train inconvenience. After a walk across a bridge and a pond (which were admittedly quite nice, once you are able to master dodging the piles of goose dung), we arrived at the fitness center. It was a joke. There were three treadmills and one stairmaster that easily predated both Bush administrations. We did get some nice fresh homemade cookies once we were back at the office, but Mushroom Lady overall was quite rude and did not seem interested in having us as tenants. (maybe it was the mud on my pants from the fall?)

Stop #3: At the Walk-up Building, we saw Bird Lady standing outside the rental office, preparing to enjoy, in her words, a "nicotine stick." Although we were early and she had every right to corrode her lungs while we waited, she was nice enough to see us right away. She was very sweet, but I felt bad for her because it was obvious in some of the things she told us that she had lived in some very crappy apartments in the past. For example, one of the selling points that she highlighted was that the apartment would be painted and the carpet cleaned prior to move-in. While I experienced the dirty-upon-move-in during college, it is sort of a given now, especially considering how much rent these places charge. Since we were interested in a two bedroom, Bird Lady stated that she would just show us at her apartment, even though it was a little messy. It was bizarre. I have never ever heard of anyone in a leasing office showing potential tenants their own apartment. She was so unassuming and naive, though, that she did not seem to think it strange at all. We headed outside and up the stairs to her second floor apartment. She still had her Christmas tree up, she had only a mattress on the floor, and the second bedroom was home only to her two birds. She spent five minutes telling us about the birds' immense fear of the dark and another five minutes later recounting how one bird had fallen in love with the other and liked to do dances in hopes of winning the bird's affections. Bird Lady seemed more concerned with having nice people to talk to than with trying to sell us on the place. Although she was quite sweet, the building's 1.4 mile distance from the train and the lack of elevators and security turned us off from the apartment. Oh and Bird Lady also pointed out how empty the laundry room was on a Saturday.

Stop #4: We decided to go back to the last apartment complex that Prince E lived before he moved in with me and Simba. Loud Walk-up is near the train and reasonably priced, although I remember not-so-fondly that the walls are horribly thin. We could actually hear the man in the apartment below cough. Prince E's friend from work currently lives in the complex and complains often about his noisy upstairs neighbors. Interestingly enough, when we were in the office at Loud Walk-up, Prince E noticed a phone message scrawled on a paper. It said "(Prince E's friend) called AGAIN about the noise." We met with Bug-Eyed Hyper Lady, who tried to convince me that the non-remodeled units were just as nice as the newly re-modeled ones. I was not convinced. Rather than showing us a model or an empty apartment, we were shown around the office, which was a converted two-bedroom apartment. Kind of difficult to picture it as a place to live, however, when the front door of the office is glass, and there were no TV, shelves, etc. to make the place look lived in. She showed us the laundry room and, as you can guess, remarked how empty it was, even on a Saturday. Prince E rolled his eyes at me and I almost burst out laughing. Bug-Eyed Hyper Lady mentioned three times how quiet Loud Walk-Up is, once after Prince E mentioned the name of his friend that currently lived there. "Oh, right, him," Bug-Eyed Hyper Lady stated. This is another non-elevator building, so move-in would stink, not to mention my overriding concerns about the noise.

After that stop, we decided to visit our favorite restaurant in that area that we used to eat at all the time when I spent the weekend at Prince E's. The woman that works there asked how we had been and when we were getting married. I liked that she remembered us and knew that I was having a turkey burger. (I realized that the reason that I find it annoying when the guy at the sandwich shop in the city does it is because he is arrogant and I feel like he is mocking me). While we were eating, we flipped through an apartment guide and found one more place to check-out.

Stop #5: At the Fancy but Far building, we were met by an energetic young woman that easily could pass as Rachael Ray's sister, in both appearance and voice. We were whisked off to check out the model, which had really nice furniture and the largest, most beautiful linen closet I have ever seen. Yes, I have completely turned domestic. It is sad, but true. It also had a decent fitness room and a pool. The downers were the pedestal sinks (I like my counter space) and the extremely inconvenient location in relation to the train station (which, incidentally, is on a less popular train line and doesn't run on the weekends). I suppose you can technically label any distance "walking distance," but does it count if there are no sidewalks?? And you have to cross parking lots and the train tracks to get there? Plus, this suburb was much farther from Prince E's work, so it kinda would defeat the purpose of the move.

I just got finished flipping through "NAMELESS County Suburban Women's Magazine," which I picked up (for free thank goodness) at the restaurant yesterday. The cover story is about permanent eyeliner and 80% of the rest of magazine is also about various methods of making oneself look better. Hopefully my move to the suburbs does not turn me into one of those women.

* I have changed the names of the suburbs and rental properties to protect all parties.


  • I've been in your apartment-hunting shoes many times and some of those tours sound too familiar. I don't know whether to feel sad or not for the one lady who showed her own apartment. Thanks for the virtual journey.

    By Blogger Anne, at 6:26 PM  

  • I didn't feel too sad for her, mostly because she seemed very happy with her life.

    By Blogger Simba's Mom, at 6:29 PM  

  • funny your apartment experiences don't sound so much different then mine her. I too was shown an office that was once a two bedroom, like you could get any idea from that one. The happy high rise sounded nice

    By Blogger Kiki, at 8:56 PM  

  • Wow! I'm worn out from all that apartment hopping!

    By Blogger Robb, at 2:00 AM  

  • I think that you two should live in a castle.

    By Blogger ShoreTurtle, at 7:53 AM  

  • Good luck with the apartment hunting! Also, if you're looking at places near the BNSF line, most of the stations are serviced by PACE buses - it's how I got to the train when I lived in the suburbs.

    By Blogger Dawnie, at 9:36 AM  

  • So are you thinking about any of them? Moving is such a pain, but your story was too funny!!

    I love turkey burgers too!

    By Blogger Rae, at 12:07 PM  

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