training for the Olympics looking for an apartment in Chicago. We’re targeting the attendance zone of a neighborhood school that teaches French, so I’ve spent the last seven days walking all over Lincoln Park, inspecting 2 bedroom apartments, meeting landlords, and scouring the streets for that elusive black rectangular sign with the orange lettering in bold typeface declaring “For Rent.”
I’ve distilled apartments down to three types. I list them here in order of desirability. This typology holds everywhere I’ve ever lived.
The worst apartment you can rent is the one listed by a property management company that also manages 37 other buildings in town and whose leasing agent saunters up 15 minutes late, wavy hair protruding from beneath a Patagonia beanie, looking like nobody more than Kyle Mooney, to show you a
garden basement apartment and answer all your questions with, “Yeah,” “Nah,” and “For sure.” These buildings are dimly-lit, and the hallways are littered with empty beer kegs. No bueno.
The high rise is a dramatic improvement over this fist type, because it’s managed by people who live on site and with whom you will interact every day. You probably can’t afford it. If you could, you might smart at paying rent toward an on-site fitness center and massage therapist. Or you might not, since this IS TOTALLY THE YEAR YOU’RE GOING TO RUN A MARATHON.
Renting from an individual who owns a piece of property is clearly the best way to go. I’ve done this at two different properties in Kansas City and two in California with great success. Look, you’re a catch. Who wouldn’t want to rent to you? People who are renting their own brick and mortar will appreciate you far more than Ned in the Leasing Office, and as a result you may be able to negotiate on rent. The first place we rented after seminary was owned by a couple who were members of a local Presbyterian church and who were willing to collect $300 less per month for the peace of mind that comes from renting to a Presbyterian minister (who left communion wine stains on the carpet!).
Finding these places takes tireless scouring the abundant online rental property space, but that’s another, more irritated, post (I’m looking at you, Domu).