Finding a new apartment can be grueling. The hunt is dictated by a very specific set of wants (like hardwood floors), needs (maybe a dishwasher), and absolute deal breakers (say, no on-site parking), then effected by circumstances such as income and geographic limitations. Once you find that perfect match, or at least one you’re willing to settle for, it’s a matter of wooing your way into their world.
In fact, it’s a lot like dating. And the comparisons don’t stop there.
When I’m a potential tenant, I present a better version of myself. I’m much more put together. I might pop on a casual dress and make sure my make-up is more polished. Not that landlords don’t rent to gals in yoga pants and Chucks on the daily, but I want to stand out as a responsible-looking candidate. I’m not just polite, I’m extra careful to speak well, and generous with the pleases and thank you’s. Ordinarily honoring etiquette is already a big part of who I am, but I especially don’t want to sully a potential opportunity by offending someone.
All of my problems are minimized. Is my dog quiet? Yes! (Ish.) Do we smoke? Absolutely not. (Unless I’m drinking. And we have friends and family who smoke when they visit, does that count?) Our credit? It’s average, but we can provide great references. (It’s mediocre and in recovery– but we can actually supply great references.) I want to be honest, but not too honest. Before you judge me, remember the same goes on on their end. Sure, your neighbors are quiet, the water pressure is great, the utility bills are low, etc. It’s all not too far from downplaying the baggage you’re carrying around from your last break-up, keeping your temperamental side cool, or not disclosing your real feelings about marriage or children.
Once you size once another up and decide that you think this can work out, at least for a year or so, you dive in and sign the lease. It feels scary to be locked in without test driving the place first. It kind of diverges from the dating analogy and takes it more to like going to Vegas to get married after only a few dates. You dread your first fights, wonder what you’ll do about the flaws you’ve discovered now that you’re already locked in, and wish you’d have spent more time looking instead of not wanting to lose the first good thing you came across. What does apartment hunting feel like for you? — Casandra Armour