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Need apartment-hunting help!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by closertofine, Apr 18, 2004.

  1. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    I know these questions are probably going to sound pretty naive, but this is my first time trying to find an apartment in a new city. I'm planning on moving to St. Louis by the end of May to work in a summer research program before starting med school at Wash U.

    So I have some general apartment-hunting questions. I'm thinking I'll fly out to St. Louis sometime in the next few weeks to look at possibilities...and I'm wondering about how long this kind of trip generally takes...can you do it in two days or so?

    Also, I guess this may be more specific to St. Louis, but is it pretty much necessary to rent a car? I've never rented one before...but I guess there's a first time for everything! I've looked at a few websites to try to find possible apartments, but I'm still pretty clueless...would you just write down a few addresses and hope that you can find them when you get there?

    And another issue: my mom wants to fly out with me and help me look...but I tend to think that I'd be fine on my own, and that it might be kind of weird to have a parent along...what do you think?

    Finally, this is probably the most stupid question: I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'm not quite sure what a studio apartment consists of. If it's financially doable, I'd like to live by myself and have a small kitchen...would that mean that I should focus on studio apartments and not ones listed as "one bedroom"?

    Oops, one last thing: since I have to be moved in to my apartment before June 1st (when my job starts), do you think it will be a problem to find a lease that will let me move in during late May? Or are most leases August through August kinds of things?

    OK, thanks, I'll be very appreciative of any advice!
     
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  3. Sharkfan

    Sharkfan Senior Member
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    1) You can find an apartment in about two days as long as you aren't picky and don't mind knowing that there is no way you can explore all possibilities.

    2) I would think that it would be to your advantage to rent a car. You are probably going to have to drive around aimlessly looking for apartments even if you do have certain places in mind. Not all apratment guides list all the apartments in any one area; hence the need to use your eyes.

    3) About searching; write down the addresses of some you like from the web. Once you get to town, go by a grocery store and pick up a free apartment guide book. Pick some ones you like. Then start visiting. This might take a while, so plan to be busy doing this all damn day unless you aren't picky and are lucky enough to find one you like right away.

    4) I would let mom come. She can pay for the rental car and hotel room- heck, maybe even the flight. And it helps to have someone with you when you have trouble making up your mind about buildings, rates, and floorplans. Second opinions can be a very good thing in this case.

    5) Studio apartment: one big room with a bathroom off to the side. It will have a kitchen area, but this area will bleed into the rest of the combined sleeping/living/dining area. If you want walls separating these spaces, opt for a one bedroom set-up.

    6) If you go very soon you shouldn't have a problem. Most places will have you fill out an application, and then they will run a credit on you. Once you are approved, they will let you have the next apartment of the style you want that comes up. Keep in mind that they will need a week or two to repaint and spiff everything up for you. So, like I said, I would think that you need to get on this soon. Like within the next week or two at the very latest.

    7) Leases can start and end at any time. And they come in all different lengths: one year, six month, three month, etc. It varies by complex.
     
  4. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    Thanks so much...that was very helpful! :D
     
  5. Mr. Rosewater

    Mr. Rosewater Senior Member
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    here's some valuable advice, use the net to find out about agreeable neighborhoods before you do ANYTHING. Your time will be limited so driving around ghettos or places real far from school will be a huge waste. therefore, choose your areas first and your complexs/buildings second. this way at least every place you go should at least be feasable. i'd also take mom for a first apt. rental. g'luck.
     
  6. lindyloohoo

    lindyloohoo Senior Member
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    Speaking from past/current experience, here's a few more tips. Living in a studio/one bedroom kind of limits the noise from kids and more than 2 people living in a small space. Also, what's the policy on obnoxious barking dogs? (i.e. what do they do when you complain, or even better are dogs aloud at all). Also, look for lighting in the parking lots, how far away laundry facilities are (in apt, same building...it's a pain in the but to haul clothes across a parking lot in the snow!!) What do utilities run for that building, and even better what utilities do you have to pay. Do they have a 24 hr emergency handyman service? What kind of things do you have to do to move out (ie do you have to steam clean the carpet that is obviously older than you are? I hated that landlord) If you decide to stay more than one year, how much will rent increase when you renew your lease. Where are the nearest pharmacies/grocery stores? If you get sick in the middle of the night, it's nice to have to run around the corner rather than across town. Dishwashers are time savers!!! :D Central air is better than a unit in the wall! Is there a firehouse/hospital/train/busy road nearby? If you're a heavy sleeper the noise from passing firetrucks/ambulances/trains/cars won't be a problem. Also, try http://apartmentratings.com for some feedback. Not guaranteed accurate, but better than nothing! I know this isn't everything you should/want to ask, but it's a start. Good luck!!!

    ps bringing mom with is a great idea. you'd be surprised about how much she knows about stuff!
     
  7. mrcdsbenz2000

    mrcdsbenz2000 Member
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    I would suggest searching a little bit before you head out there...get a few in mind, that way things will run much smoother. I'd check out craigslist.org...great website with lots of sublet/ summer possibilities. Good luck!
     
  8. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    Another thing to keep in mind if you're considering studios is that some studios the "kitchen" is really just a hot plate and microwave. If you want to be able to cook anything in a stove or on more than one burner at a time you most likely want a 1 bedroom.

    For what it's worth I moved into my current apartment site unseen. I did research on the web (mostly rent.com), mapped out locations (get driving directions once you book a hotel room), talked to leasing agents, and chose what I thought was the best option at the time. At the time I wasn't sure what school I was going to go to other than within this city so I mapped out locations to both of the schools I was interested in and chose one inbetween the two. I've been relatively happy with my choice for 6+ years now. It ended up being a nice big apartment, but if I was to do it again I'd definitely make sure it had air - it's got huge windows but the air doesn't circulate too well so summers are pretty hot (and keep getting hotter lol). The buildings are really old (my bf's parents lived here before he was even born lol), and the kitchen appliances are old, but they've lasted surprisingly well. I'd also make sure it had a microwave next time around too. I've learned how to heat stuff up pretty well but it sure would be nice to make microwave popcorn :).

    The one other thing I'd definitely, defintiely make sure of if you're planning on using public transportation is whether or not the busses run by your potential apartment, and that all routes do so vs just day. That's my biggest disappointment with my current location. The bus goes by my apt but for most of the day only once an hour vs twice, and the closest the busses get during the evening is a mile and a half. Not a bad walk in the summer, but in the winter or rain with a backpack full of books it sucks lol. Even if you don't plan on using public trans I think I'd still double check routes because you just never know what will happen. I haven't had a car for about 5 years now, but I sure never intended it that way lol. Most cities will have routes/schedules online.

    One last thing to ask about would be how many washers/dryers are set up for how many apartments. Are they all in one location far from your potential building, within the same building, around the corner, etc? Do they restrict the hours that washing is allowed? My apt has them within the building but you have to go outside and around to the back to get to them, and there's only one washer/dryer for 10 apartments and we aren't "supposed" to wash after 9pm. Makes fitting in laundry difficult sometimes (and cold in the winter lol).

    Good luck!
     

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