Moving & Apartment-Hunting

The Borrowed Abode’s Most Wanted

When hunting for a new apartment or home to rent it’s always a good idea to brainstorm a list of your ‘must haves’ and ‘must-not-haves’ in a home.  A clear list of priorities makes shopping the Craigslist ads a breeze!

Here’s what my list looked like (and some commentary ’cause I’m verbose like that):

Must haves:

  • Location: close to our office yet still a small-town, local business feel.
  • Pet friendly
  • Washer/dryer
  • Dishwasher (I love to cook.  I hate cleaning dishes.)
  • Lots of natural light (because a home without it is just dreary)
  • Yard of 0.3 acres or larger
  • Landlord ok with my blogging about his/her property

Location was not negotiable.  After enjoying the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria for 5 years, I insisted that we move to another area where I could still walk or bike to local businesses as well as a farmer’s market (in the warm season).

As for the washer/dryer?  Look, I’m not a snob.  Nor am I picky.  It’s just that I think when you’re paying out the wazoo to rent a single family home in a nice area, you shouldn’t have to take your laundry to the laundromat.  Period.

This time around, I also had my blog to think about.  It was pointed out to me that some landlords may not appreciate my blogging about my experience living in their home.  If that was the case, they probably had something to hide.  Not the right landlord for me, that’s for sure!

Nice to haves:

These aren’t necessary, but I’d be lying if I said they wouldn’t influence me one way or another.

  • Fireplace (The snowy weather this past winter had me longing for this perk)
  • A decent kitchen. (I love to cook, usually for an hour each night.  Some rental properties have Godawful kitchens.)
  • Large yard (0.5 acres or larger, because I want a backyard wedding)
  • Screened porch or sunroom
  • Central Air
  • Wood floors

Must Not Haves:

  • Location on busy road (I love my cat.  Like it or not, he goes outside.  He doesn’t need to be murdered by a car.)
  • Cruddy heating system
  • HOA

We really didn’t want to be part of an HOA, or Home Owners Association.  I just don’t like them, and don’t trust them.  I don’t need someone telling me what color petunias I need to plant on the left side of the driveway four feet from the sidewalk.  And don’t get me started on rules against drying laundry in the back yard!

But overall I really didn’t have many “must-not-haves” on my list.  This is because when I see a property I immediately get a feeling if I know it just isn’t right for me.  That right there is the biggest must-not-have at all:  trusting your gut.

But enough about me, what about you?  Anything you think I missed on the list that I should have included?  Any ideas of mine that you think are just whacked?

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  • Reply Amber at 11:00 am

    I always go to the neighborhood at night usually around midnight over the wkend & check to see if it gets bad at night. Another thing is that I Always have to have some kind of storage space. Be it an attic, basement, shed… Whatever. I Need storage.

  • Reply Erin at 4:16 pm

    I agree with Amber–storage storage. At least one decent space like a walk in or something. And this is coming from a girl currently living WITH NO CLOSETS! But I don’t complain–we have a sunroom, garage, and attic.And kitchen cabinets need to be functional for all that kitchen crap. Nice to have–more than one drawer in the kitchen. (I currently have one.) A dual sink is a nice to have too!

    Must have-a good spot for that litter box! 🙂

  • Reply Leproust Vintage at 3:59 am

    I love this….my wants are identical to yours! Natural light is SO high up on my list. We lived in a place with low light for a few years and I hated it!

  • Reply Carla Hayden at 4:53 am

    How did you find your rental? Did you use a agent or looked on your on. I am having finding a decent house for rent in my target area. 

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 8:04 am

      Hi Carla,
      We found our house via Craigslist, we didn’t use an agent. I don’t know if you saw the letter that I wrote to potential landlords to help “sell” ourselves, but I actually posted that on Craigslist in the “housing wanted” section. Several landlords saw it, and contacted us, wanting to rent to us. One of them is the landlord of the home we moved into. Our house is amazing, and we feel like we really got lucky – because many people are reluctant to rent decent places to people with 4 pets. But I think the letter really helped us look like responsible renters (which we are).

      In some areas it’s really tough to find a decent rental property in an affordable price range. If you’re looking at a ton of places and they all seem to have problems, I’d make a list of top priorities. Mine, from previous experience, would be -a good heating system so that you’re not freezing in the winter, -safety , nice light coming through the windows during the day. I say this because my last place was nice and spacious, but it got almost no light in the living room during the day. And there was no heat in the bathroom, kitchen, or dining room. It was miserable!! If I could go back in time I would have looked for something bright and cheerful, with good heat, even if it was smaller (1 bedroom instead of 2).
      I don’t know if any of this is helpful or not, but please let me know if
      you have any more questions. I think it’s important to rent a place that
      has qualities you love about it!

      PS: I wonder if you could post letters about what you want to rent at local
      churches, etc?


      • Reply Carla Hayden at 11:13 am

        Thanks for the reply. I did post a ad but it was nothing as detailed as your letter. I will try this approach. By the way I love love love your blog I plan on renting for a while and I enjoy all of your information. It’s not many places to find information about taking care of a rental home.

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