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Apartment Hunters: Season 2, Episode 3   Leave a comment

James investigated Waterford Forest apartments by himself on Sunday. I asked him what he thought.

“The living room area was really small,” he said. “I’m surprised you liked it.”

I confessed that it was literally everything else about the apartment that I really liked. The living room area was really small, but the bedrooms were nice and big, and the kitchen was nice and big, and it had a sensible floorplan. The location was fantastic, and the staff was nice.

“The staff person I talked to was sort of impatient,” he said. “But maybe that was because it was the weekend and she was by herself. She just sort of showed me the apartment and then walked me back to the office. We didn’t really chat much. But again, maybe she just didn’t want to leave the office for too long.”

The other place he had investigated was a place called Treybrooke.


Option 1


Option 2

“I like the living room in the apartment, but I like the bedrooms in the townhouse,” he sighed. “If only they could be combined!”

“What the property like?” I asked.

“The staff was very nice,” he said. “It’s right next to an elementary school.”

“Oh, no,” I said.

“What?”

“Traffic is going to be ridiculous.”

Despite my hesitation, we went ahead and checked the place out today. It turned out to be across from a Montessori school (a really nice-looking one too, holy crap); the elementary school was around the corner and had separate turn lanes with a huge winding parking lot, so the traffic wasn’t too bad even though it was peak pick-up time.

The grounds were surrounded by trees, although there wasn’t much in the way of trees inside the complex. We were within walking distance to the Greenway, so there would be a lot of walking paths. There was also a large pool, tennis courts, and a half-basketball court (!). The leasing agent remembered James and was delighted that he had come back (always a good sign).

First we looked at the townhouse. James had said that he didn’t like how small the rooms were, and I’ll admit they were smallish, but the place was so light and open. There was a fireplace with a set-in nook over it. I thought it was adorable. The kitchen was great, with lots of counter space. No pantry, but lots and lots of shelves. The dining room area was big enough for our table. The half-bath was functional (there’s not really a whole lot you can ask from a half-bath).

The upstairs was indeed very spacious. The huge bedrooms were great. There were vaulted ceilings. I had visions of putting shelves up there with potted plants or something. The master bedroom closets were somewhere between standard and walk-ins, and very nicely laid out, with a separate shelf for shoes. I was very impressed overall. And there was a fenced-in backyard! Perfect for woodworking projects or painting or just sitting outside.

Next we visited the apartment option. The living room here was huge. The kitchen was small — we wouldn’t have any more counter space there than at our current apartment. The second bedroom was also in a weird spot, kind of a thumb that turned the other way from the entryway. The leasing agent said that it had been designed for a “roommate” situation. The parents and kids wouldn’t have rooms next to each other, or two roommates would have their own little nooks and just share the common areas.

She asked me what I thought. I said that I had really, really liked the townhouse, with the cute little nook above the fireplace, the backyard, the separation of private and public spaces, and all the counter space. This place wasn’t bad — oh my goodness, the living area — but it just seemed to have less of what I wanted and more of what I didn’t really care about.

Back at the leasing office, she consulted availability. A townhouse was available when we needed it to be, but it would be a middle unit; a backyard and a big kitchen, but no fireplace and no wall nook. A two-bedroom would be available, and it would have a fireplace with a nook, but it it was a second-level apartment, so no backyard. But fortunately, we have two months to decide.

Next we visited Harrison Grande, the place that James really liked during our first apartment search. The woman we were able to speak to explained that they were about to upgrade literally all of the currently-empty apartments, when were we looking to move in?

“April,” I said.

The relief on the woman’s face was palpable.

“I can show you a Biltmore floorplan,” she said.

“We’ve seen it,” I said.

“She hates it,” said James.

“Really? I live in one of those,” said the woman. “It’s fantastic.”

“I know!” said James. “So much space! But she doesn’t like the bathroom right at the front entrance.”

“Oh,” said the woman. “But the bedrooms are so far apart, so my son and I don’t have to share a wall. I suppose that doesn’t make any difference for you two.”

“We were hoping to see a Monticello,” I said.

Well there weren’t any cleared to see — the renovations, you see — tomorrow there would be some big corporate people coming to look at the whole apartment complex — they were in the middle of renovations — just cosmetic changes — maybe next week — they were doing renovations to all the empty apartments — maybe next week a Monticello would be cleared to look at — maybe she could get our information and call us — so sorry, but it was because of all of the renovations.

“Yeah, we can do that,” I said.

“What are your names?”

“Kelsey and James.”

“Is that the same last name?”

I hate that question. Casey and I had gotten that question asked all the time when we had gone apartment hunting way back in 2008. This was the first time I’d been asked that question in a while, and I’ve never been able to figure out why that question bugs me. I had to spell out my last name (which is spelled how it sounds?) and she guessed James’ last name on the first try. I gave her my phone number, and she wrote on top of it Monticello view. She apologized again for the renovations, and we left.

We visited a few local shops while we were out and about. First we looked at Pet Supermarket, right across the street from Harrison Grande. If we ended up living there, that would be our pet supply store, and we needed to know if they had crickets for the beardies (they do). Then we looked at a local fish store, just to see what they had for our future aquarium. I pointed out all the cool fish I like, all the coral I like, and all the marine fish I like (wrasses and damsels, the whole lot of them — but they had chromis! I am definitely getting a wrasse or two and some chromis in like ten years or so when I do get a saltwater tank). We looked briefly at their selection of driftwood and substrate. Then I asked the guy running the shop for advice on fish.

“I’m getting zebra danios, and I’m having trouble thinking of tank mates for them,” I said.

He nodded.

“I know they’re pretty community-friendly fish,” I said. “I was thinking about putting cardinal tetras in there.”

He didn’t think that was a good idea; zebra danios are just so fast and busy. They might not nip, but their antics might make the small, placid cardinals timid and stressed.

“Cardinals aren’t small,” I said, surprised.

“They’re about the same size as neons,” he said.

“They’re like twice the size of neons,” I said.

He shook his head no.

“So like bigger tetras then? Lamp-eyes? Buenos Aires?”

“They’re still way too busy,” he said. “I wouldn’t mix danios and tetras at all.”

“So what about barbs?” I swallowed the suggestion of tiger barbs and said, “Maybe cherry barbs?”

“Cherry barbs would be great,” he said.

So that’s that. Our future tank, whenever we build it, will have Glofish/zebra danios and cherry barbs.

Apartment Hunters, Season 2, Episode 2   Leave a comment

We managed to fit two apartments into an hour-and-a-half span before James had to go to work, and I even visited a third before I went home and made lunch for myself.

The first place we visited was called Crossroads Townhomes. It is, in fact, the place that I said had a “New-Englandy” name in my last post (it’s the place with this layout. It’s a location by the same company that made the third apartment in this list, the place that made me giggle in the closet. This location just isn’t right next to the train tracks. Once again: no apartments to show, but we did look through the townhouse again. We mentioned the issue with the lack of a pantry, and the tour agent said that they could convert the coat closet at no charge. Apparently a lot of people don’t like the lack of pantry. And anyway, we were more interested in the apartment, which does have a pantry.

James and I conferred in my car. I mentioned that I didn’t like the location — all woods, no visible shopping as far as I could see. James told me that after the next hill there was Beaver Creek Crossroads, the largest open shopping area in the area. James seemed neutral on the whole place. He didn’t like the idea of getting an apartment without ever seeing it in person.

Since it was only 10:00 now, we checked out another apartment. We chose Bell Preston Reserve (this layout). It was about fifteen minutes away, right in the smack of Cary. In the center of new Cary. I’ve told Lacey about how much Cary scares me. It’s been expanding so fast, annexing land left and right regardless of ownership, turning itself into the ultimate bedroom community. You can’t walk anywhere. Half the time they don’t have sidewalks, and most of the time you’re about 20 minutes from the shopping center anyway. They have literally written “charming” and “attractive” into the community guidelines. They want to look like a small, cute town, but with wide, car-filled streets and monotonous architecture?

You turn right to get into the community, and the leasing office takes up your entire view, a grand brick building with pillars, brick stairs and an iron ramp. It’s all so grand. I felt overwhelmed immediately.

The office was gigantic. They have a basketball court, gym, Starbucks vending machine, gaming room, and multiple flat-screen TVs just, like, everywhere. The pool was smaller than I expected, but it was decorated with small Italian-Villa-style architectural details. There was a covered picnic table and a gas grill. I felt awkward and poor just standing entering the building.

The assistant manager showed us around. He seemed bored. At Crossroads Townhomes, I had had no problem chatting with the leasing agent. We had giggled together a few times. I couldn’t come up with any questions with this dude. He asked us several times if we had any more questions, but his whole mannerism disinvited any further questioning.

They didn’t have an apartment with the layout we wanted available to show, but the model mostly the same, except without the master bedroom. James was impressed with the size of the living area. We hate the living area of our current apartment, so having a good sized living room is important to us this time. I have to admit that the living room was what we were looking for. The kitchen was a little small, and James didn’t like the folding doors to all the closets. It was what we were looking for; I just didn’t feel comfortable.

By the time we left, it was 10:40 and James had to go to work. He gave me the address of another place he was considering: Waterford Forest.

James had shown me the layout. I had expressed concern about the placement of the living room, but he was confident we could make it work. The community was outside of newer Cary, and I had to go through a small shopping center to get to it. The apartments were all brown-gray siding. I thought, oh this is cute without being overwhelming.

The staff was all very nice, in contrast to the previous place. They had a nice big gym and a racketball court, wood/coal grilling stations, and lots of doggy pick-up stations. She emphasized how pet-friendly they were. I hadn’t even asked at Bell Preston, but I knew that Crossroads had size and breed restrictions. I didn’t ask any questions because I’m more impatient to get a dog than James is, but I had mentioned it and so she brought it up a couple times. They don’t have size and breed restrictions. They have Cat Treat Wednesdays and Dog Treat Saturdays (or the other way around?).

The actual apartment seemed nice. It had a big kitchen and the biggest pantry I had seen yet. Both bedrooms seemed big enough to hold a king-size bed. The actual living area? Small. Big enough to hold our furniture, likely, but the smallest living area I had seen yet, probably about the same size as our current place. The placement is better, but still. Small. The apartment was big and bright and it looked good, but the living area was small.

And that was the first three apartments. We still have two or three others to check out, as well as returning to Harrison Grande, James’ favorite potential place to live.

Which will we choose? Well, we won’t decide for another month or two probably. Stay tuned away?

Posted January 29, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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Apartment Hunters   1 comment

The reason I went down to North Carolina this week was to prepare to move down here. To that end, James and I have been spending the past two days looking at apartments. We’ve been ruthlessly studying apartment layouts, comparing prices, discussing the our budget (which we’ve color-coded because we’re super-serious you guys).

Last week James went apartment-hunting and narrowed it down to three options for us to look at this week. When he called me and updated me about his apartment search, he enthused about one particular house. “The living area is huge!” he said. “The layout is perfect.”

The only problem, according to him, was the income restrictions: as an unmarried couple, we would be “roommates” by their policies. Once I was a substitute teacher, we could meet their income requirements. In the meantime, we had enough savings to cover the hole in the rent. He became even more certain when I landed a part-time job at Target yesterday. I had a job down here! Surely we could afford this wonderful apartment.

He took me around to this apartment complex. The grounds were certainly very nice, well-maintained without looking manicured. The clubhouse was huge. The agent was very pleasant and remembered details about James. She congratulated me on the job. She showed me the same model apartment that she had shown James.

I walked in the front door. “I can see a toilet,” I said.

Literally the first thing you see when you walk into that apartment was the guest toilet.

“You can close the door,” James scoffed.

“I’ll know it’s there though!” I insisted.

Once you turned away from the front door, it was a very nice apartment. Very spacious. Simple layout, elegant finishings. When I thought about it later, having the guest bathroom where it was made sense. It was closer to the rest of the plumbing. Perhaps we could throw a large piece of artwork in front of the door so that no one would know, walking in the door, how close they were to a toilet. Oh sure, they’d figure it out eventually, but only after they were in the apartment for a while.

Looking at it later, we realized that we had no way to make income requirements, and set it aside.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

James hadn’t had a walking tour of the next apartment, as it had been pouring thunder and lightning when he had visited the place before. “It was in the middle of the woods,” he said. It was just a few blocks from the previous apartment, around the corner and a five-minute drive away. Farther away from shopping. Farther away from dining.

“There’s a laundry facility,” I said. “Are there not in-unit laundry units?” James had been filling my head with tales of in-unit laundry rooms in all North Carolina apartments. I had come to expect them.

“I think some of the one-bedrooms don’t have laundry hook-ups,” he said. “But all the two-bedrooms definitely have laundry hook-ups. Don’t worry, I asked. I want in-unit laundry too.”

I was filled with trepidation as we approached the leasing office. I could see the name of the management company by the door. It sounded like the sort of name you would give Section 8 housing. We walked inside.

The agent was very energetic and friendly. She was wearing purple eyeshadow to match her purple sweater. She hadn’t been there when James had been there before, but she asked us all sorts of questions and managed to make us feel welcome in her life without actually giving any relevant information away. When we told her that we wanted to move at the end of September, she ran around the office, consulting computers and other agents before getting back to us and saying that they technically didn’t have anything available but that they were like 95% they were going to have something available, she had just talked to a current resident yesterday and he was moving, etc etc. It was pretty much a done deal.

She showed us an apartment with the same layout of the one that guy was about to give up. Having just been in the luxe apartment around the corner, I was shocked by how small and dark it was. Perhaps that was just because of all the trees right outside the patio. I swallowed my comment about the darkness and walked into the kitchen. I asked James if the dining room seemed big enough for his furniture. He said it was. I looked in the galley kitchen, then opened the door at the end of it.

“We’ll just have hook-ups in your apartment,” said the agent.

“We have a washer and dryer,” said James.

“So this is where the pantry is?” I asked.

“Yes,” said the agent.

I swung the door open all the way, and saw that the door blocked about 2/3 of the oven. “We’d have to take this door out,” I said.

“Maybe hang a curtain there,” James said.

The agent pointed out other doors that could be taken out. “The door in the master bathroom,” she said. “It gets really cramped in there with the door open. And this door,” she indicated the door to one of the closets. “Look at this.” She flicked a light switch, turning on the closet light. Then she opened the door, blocking the light switch. “Ridiculous, right? We get so many maintenance requests to get rid of that door.”

“That would be my closet,” I mused. “James can have the one in the bathroom.”

We looked at James, who was standing flush against a window, arms stretched out, like he was trying to nap against the trees.

“Is there enough room for our furniture?” I asked.

“I was just measuring,” he said. “I think there’s enough for the king-size bed.”

“What about the dressers?” I asked.

None of us had an answer for that.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

We looked at three more apartments today — another super-luxe apartment complex with giant living rooms and closets and golf carts to take us to the model apartment. It was about $100 more a month than we had budgeted. Another was a Camden property, like the apartment I had had with Beth and Jenn. The grounds reminded me so much of DC, and the layout itself was bright and home-like. But there were mandatory services (valet trash, cable) that drove the price up another $105. These had been appealing when we three girls had rented an apartment in 2010, but somehow that seemed unappealing this time around.

Another was right by the train tracks, but within an easy walking distance to Target, where I had just gotten a job. They didn’t have an apartment to show us, so we looked at their model townhouse instead. I had to admit that renting a townhouse seemed appealing. It would be more like home. There would also be a separation of the private and the public spheres, which was a decoration revolution I had read about in some of my colonial history books.

It had a nice kitchen. I nearly squealed with glee at the sight of a microwave oven mounted above the stove. James opened the door in the kitchen to reveal…an HVAC system and a water heater?

“Where’s the pantry?” I asked.

“There is no pantry,” said the agent.

Still, the guest bathroom was just a half-bath — perfect for the sort of guests we planned to have over — and the living area was just the right size. I could just imagine two separate gaming tables, people huddled around each one, fighting over victory points. I was almost reluctant to go upstairs, but I did go upstairs.

The laundry room was right off of the master bedroom. The master bedroom was large — not huge, but large — and the upstairs bathroom were a trek to get through, built to wrap around the laundry room. I could imagine James taking one vanity and me taking the other. I walked right into the guest bedroom and giggled in the closets. None of the other apartments had made me feel giddy. I tempered myself by remembering that the closets were small and that there was no pantry.

Back in the leasing office, James, the agent, and I poured over our options. Three apartments were available, and one townhouse available. We left with our maps and list of available apartments. We drove around the campus, looking at where the availabilities were. We had our eye on one apartment that was at least on the other side of the campus from the train tracks. It overlooked a parking lot, but it would at least be quiet.

“I loved that place,” I said.

“I read the reviews though, and maintenance is supposed to be terrible, and that agent is supposed to be a Jekyll and Hyde type,” James said. “And I could see it, too. Her niceness was just an act she was putting on.”

“How could you tell?” I asked.

He couldn’t really explain.

We brought all of our paperwork home. We plugged the numbers into our color-coded budget spreadsheet. We eliminated the super-luxe apartments and the Camden location for being out of our price range. That just left us with three options: the place with the Jekyll and Hyde agent, the small apartment in the woods, and renewing the lease on James’ current place.

So which option did we choose?

(cue upbeat thinking music)

We chose to renew the lease on James’ current place.

We only renewed it for six months. James is about to be promoted into management at the grocery company where he worked. I only have a part-time job down here. In six months, we’re going to be in much better financial positions. This apartment will be a little overfull with furniture for those six months, but we’ll be able to save money and wait for the autumn rental boom to quiet down. Still, it was nice to see our options, and maybe in March or April, we could look at that wooded apartment complex again…

Posted July 29, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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