Oh the places you’ll see when house-hunting

About three of my days this week were spent frantically scouring Craigslist, calling landlords and scheduling appointments around four different schedules – all in order to find a place to live next year.

I’ve lived in St. John’s housing for the last three years. There are many different reasons for that, the main being that my parents, for some inconceivable reason, think it’s easier that way. Apparently it’s easier to get completely ripped off, forced into a terrible meal plan, deal with check-in policy after policy, inconvenient move-in and move-out dates and uncomfortable furniture. I’ll keep that in mind when choosing their nursing homes.

This year, I knew I was probably going to be staying in New York for the summer so I became much more pro-active about attaining independent housing. My roommates and I, whom I’ve lived with each year, decided that we’d stick it out for our senior year – finish our St. John’s tenure with a bang and find our own place off-campus.  Everything seemed great… until the search actually began. That’s when I met my friend Craig and his infamous list.

In case you haven’t tried it yet, Craigslist sucks.

I’ve spent countless hours searching for apartments that would potentially work for us. I’ve also learned that there are no truly good options for four girls all looking for their own bedrooms in the surrounding St. John’s area. I sent email after email – only hearing back from about 25 percent. I also found out that one woman apparently owns every four bedroom apartment in a half mile radius. I probably sent her five or six e-mails alone. Each time I was hopeful to hear from someone else – my fairy godmother with a cheap beautiful apartment. But alas it was just her.

We narrowed it down to three different apartments that we’d go visit Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. We also established a deadline of Saturday afternoon to definitively choose a place to live.

Visiting apartments is one of the most uncomfortable things to do. Apparently, landlords choose to notify their tenants that they’ll be visiting from outside the door, with us in tow.

I knew someone living in the first apartment we visited. We’d been partners on a class project together, never really talking about more than target markets. Now I was looking through his bedroom, judging his kitchen’s cleanliness, and deciding whether his apartment was good enough for me – as he watched. As I casually asked the landlord what the utilities costs would be, she hurriedly ushered me outside to discuss in private. It was as shady as it sounds.

The second apartment we visited was awesome. One bedroom had its own balcony; another had a beautiful bathroom. The refrigerator was huge (that’s what really sold me) and the common room was spacious and perfect for entertaining. Also, we could move in May 15 rather than June 1. But it was a mile and a half away, at the top of a hill. Biking to campus would be a challenge; walking wouldn’t even be an option.

A crying baby welcomed us into the third apartment building, followed by a four-story climb to the apartment.  A girl, wearing no pants, opened the door for us. And the place smelled. It was apparent early on that this was not the apartment for us.

We spent the next hour and a half comparing the first and second apartments. Was the increased price worth the proximity to school? How much does the move-in date affect our decision? How much did the original landlord freak us out? Our parents were no help – this was our decision to the very end.

After much deliberation, we decided the first apartment was the winner. I’ve since had many phone calls, and even more emails, with the creepy landlord. We’ll be meeting her with our security deposit, in cash, sometime this week to sign the lease and make it official.

Granted, this means the four of us need to jump through fiery hoops during the upcoming weeks to make sure that this will work out. We need copies of our parents’ IDs, signed forms, a kidney and 10 blank, dated checks. Okay, maybe not the kidney – but everything else, on a student’s schedule, will be rough.

May 10 will be a great day. All our obligations to the landlord will be due, and we’ll finally be able to breathe and maybe I’ll finally be able to appreciate that I did this all on my own.