Apartment hunting is similar to the process of finding your own personal style, only you have to start off with the right canvas–an ideal space to create the perfect place and life of your own. If you’d ask me how I felt before I embarked on my apartment hunting journey, I’d say very comfortable. It’s a state that I actually don’t quite like to find myself in. When I’m starting to feel all too safe, it’s usually a sign that it’s time for change–for growth.
As I lived out my college days in Boston, I learned to cherish the ideals of freedom and responsibility that came along with independence. Coming back home post the three years was amazing, too, however. Everyday, my heart felt warm waking up to family and familiarity. While I really do love my current housing situation, I know it’s not practical for me to stay here, in my childhood home in the suburbs, for much longer.
For the past few months, I’ve been feeling an urgency for radical change within me, so I started apartment hunting in the city. Fast forward to today, I’ve narrowed my list down to three options. The journey to choosing the right one has just begun. No decisions have been made as of yet, but I want to share some of the decision making process with you. For what it’s worth, here’s my guide-in-progress on finding the perfect place of your own (whether that’s an apartment, or a home):
Know Thy Neighborhood
Right off the bat, I knew I wanted to find a place in between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The first thing I typed in on Google was “apartments in between WeHo and BH.” Little did I know that most of the places I shortlisted from this search would turn out to be unfit options. Some of the spaces I came across online were huge with modern furnishings, but the neighborhoods weren’t ideal. I neglected to realize what was within a 1 mile radius of the property. Safety and accessibility are two things that mustn’t be overlooked, so it’s important to do a few things. First, drive by the prospective new place, then ask friends who live in the area. You should also look on Google Maps for what grocery stores, public transportation, eateries, (and most importantly, shops!) are around the property.
Befriend A Budgeting Tool
A huge part of my growth the past few years has been understanding what it means to be financially independent. It’s not just being able to afford the clothes and food you’d like–it’s a lot more. Knowing what percentage of your monthly income to set aside for different expenses, especially rent of your new home, is essential. Here’s a tool I’ve been using called Pigly that makes it really easy. Just put in your monthly income and voila! You’ll know approximately how much you should be spending in rent, as well as on other factors. The tool takes into account things like utilities, recreation, and much more.
If, however, you’re at the stage where you feel ready to snag your dream house, I have a tool that would suit you perfectly. This mortgage calculators tool helps guide you towards understanding the necessary minimum required income in order to own the home you aspire to. Instead of plugging in what your income is and finding what your costs should be, as in the aforementioned Pigly tool, this calculator allows you to plug in what your costs are and find what your income should be! Therefore, you can focus your efforts on building yourself up to that position. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought I would remind you that home prices are constantly fluctuating. Bloomberg recently came out with an article explaining the recent surges, but predicted that these might ease, so I would definitely continue using this calculator as the pandemic continues to impact the real-estate landscape.
Pictures Are Perfect, Reality Might Not Be
The internet is a wonderful place, but pictures you see online cannot be the sole factor in deciding where to live. No amount of virtual tours and well-staged pictures can indicate what a space is truly like. I’d compare this process to seeing colleges online or curating the perfect Instagram feed (something I spend a lot of my time doing). There’s simply no way you’re getting the full reality. So, while pictures can be edited, staged, and curated to perfection, reality cannot. Make sure you go and see the space because how you feel once you’re at the spot is supremely important.
Well, seeing as my apartment hunting journey is still in progress, these are the few inklings of knowledge I wanted to share with you. Honestly, I’m extremely eager to create a stylish sanctuary. However, I know that cannot happen until I make the shift from my comfortable home. I’m going to challenge myself to step out of the nest into a space of my own.
It’s not that being comfortable is a bad thing in itself. It is merely that sometimes, we must change how we view comfort. There’s a fitting quote I read the other day by Kerrie McLellan, VP of Direct, that I’ll share with you now: “Success comes from being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”