Now I'm no expert when it comes to renting apartments, but seeing as I've lived in eight different apartments in three different cities (one being abroad!) over the last nine years, it's become quite a normal process for me. With each move I've learned a little about what to look for, what to expect, and what to never ever to do again. Maybe I'll share some of those in another post! From searching through countless craigeslist ads, word of mouth, and even reaching out to fellow blogger friends (thanks Mara and Megan!), I have done it all.
So after so many trial and errors... not to mention about a million viewings (some being the most horrific sites ever) I thought I'd share with you guys a little trick that has always helped me start the process. Because let's face it, it's always going to be a stressful and slightly scary ordeal, especially if relocating to a completely new city. But this will at least give you a starting point. And hey, any little bit helps hu?!
One of the first things I like to do is make a list of the most important things to me, or in this case hub's and I's... kind of like what our dream apartment would have. It really helps to get these things down on paper and especially if you're having to include someone else's opinion in this, you want to make sure you both know what each other is looking for. You would be surprised what someone else may deem important that might not have even made it onto your list... but that's what love is, compromises! And making list's are just fun right?! So here is our little love nest list and what perks we managed to find in our new apartment, in no particular order.
1. An outdoor escape: Be it a balcony, rooftop access, or a garden, we both felt pretty strongly about this one. I think it might have to do with the fact that our last apartment in London had a massive billboard that wrapped around it most of the time, covering the windows. While it didn't seem to bother us at the time, and it was the reason we could afford to live in such a great location, it was something we really wanted to get back with this move. In NYC I had rooftop access in multiple apartments I lived in and it was just so nice to escape out there! Verdict: Our new place has mini balconys in the living room and bedroom... mini meaning you can stand outside in them but that's about it.
2. A dishwasher: I know it sounds silly, but this was high on my list because it was the stem of a lot of arguments back in London. I've had one in the past and I think I may have taken for granted just how nice having one really is. Hubs didn't really seem to care one way or the other about this one but agreed that if it meant less tiffs, then he was on board too! Verdict: We have a dishwasher folks!
3. Location: This was a biggie for many reasons, but the main one being that we needed to live close enough to hub's work so that he could cycle to and from until we got a car. Lucky for us, hub's just happens to work super close to the beach which was something I definitely wanted to live near by now that we had the chance. Another really important thing to us was living somewhere that had a bit of a nightlife and things to do close by that we could walk to or take a cab without breaking the bank. LA being such a driving city and us being big on the whole no drinking and driving thing, we opted to be safe and not sorry. Verdict: We are just 3 miles from hub's work, a mere 23 blocks from the water, and just a walk away from tons of cute bars and restaurants.
4. A Gym: Having one in or near the apartment. This one is obviously more for hubs because I couldn't wait to get back into running and especially along the beach (still haven't gone for a run!) Hub's got really into crossfit and weight lifting during our wait in Ringwood and wanted to try and make it a habit. Verdict: While we didn't end up with one in our building, there are literally gyms everywhere over here so finding the perfect fit for hubs either near home or work shouldn't be too much of a problem.
5. A Bathtub: As a runner, ice baths (a necessity for faster recovery) would be a lot easier to do with an actual bath tub don't you think? I used to have to do ice showers which I think are slightly more painful and in a teeny tiny shower that just about fit one regular sized person. If you were any heavier, forget it, you might end up stuck! This one of course is more a "it would be nice" and not a total deal breaker... but still, it would be nice. Verdict: We have a bathtub guys!!!
7. Parking: While we don't have a car just yet, we knew we'd eventually be getting one and maybe even two in the future so a parking spot was a must! This is after all LA, the land of driving everywhere with terrible public transport compared to both London and NYC. Verdict: We have a spot! No car yet, but a parking spot none the less. And this guys, makes me so giddy and yes I imagine what our future car will look like parked there daily.
8. A washer AND dryer: Another something I've taken for granted in the past and decided I couldn't live without ever again. We had a washer back in London but had to hang dry everything in the coldest and dampest of places. I think if I had to dry myself off with a hard as a brick, smells like damp grossness, towel for any longer I would have cracked. And isn't a bed made up with fresh out of the dryer sheets just the best?! Right up there with the smell of cookies baking and a cuddly puppy. Verdict: There's a coin laundry for the building on the ground floor and that's good enough for me.
9. A living room AND separate kitchen: While our London flat had a separate kitchen, it was pretty cold and damp in there year round so we kind of merged our living space into the huge bedroom ala studio style. We really missed having a space to have friends over to entertain. Not to mention that whenever we had guests stay with us, we could only offer them a blow up mattress in the same room as us which was fine, but a little crowded at times. Plus I love the idea of closing the bedroom door if people stop by unexpectedly and it's messy. Verdict: We did it guys! A true one bedroom and a living room that will hopefully have a couch for already self proclaimed visitors to come.
10. A full sized refrigerator: This one is another ridiculous one but after living with a teeny tiny fridge where I'm telling you nothing ever fit, it made it pretty high on my lists of important musts. It was pretty frustrating to us both to only ever be able to shop for the day or two and not even because we had to carry it all back, but more so because nothing fit. And you could forget about refrigerating leftovers... and a proper freezer? As if! Our ice cream melted within a few hours which was a good excuse to eat it all in one helping, but not the healthiest. Verdict: Our refrigerator seems so huge and empty and I can hardly wait to fill it up with about a million nonsense condiments just cause I can!
So there you go guys, the little and not so little things that we deemed important for our new home. Obviously other factors come into play too like budget, how quickly you need to move in by, and how much searching you are willing to do. But this really helped us and I'm happy to say we were able to tick nearly all of the boxes. It's always a give and take with some compromising and I can only imagine how much longer the list will be when we are looking to actually buy! Yikes, the mere thought makes me cringe. For those of you that are curious, we ended up in gorgeous Santa Monica and used Westside Rentals with our hunt. And no, that's not our car pictured above and yes, there will be another list when it comes time for that.
***Today I am thankful we were able to find our little dream apartment... perfect for us right now***