Several times in my life I have moved myself and others into new domiciles. Several, several times, in fact. Over my life I have lived in fifteen different dorms, houses, apartments, and a camper, sixteen different people not counting my parents and my sister sharing these spaces.
Each of these places had a variety of pluses and minuses. Most of the minuses were roomates, a swath of hard partying and insane individuals who often exerted their own needs over the needs of the other roommates. One I am sure still holds a grudge that I did not let him get a chainsaw for his "art project."
That being said, I like to think I have a knack at finding new places. Most of this "knack" is dumb luck, of course, because finding a great place to live while on a budget is like finding a great person to date. You have to try a lot and be disappointed a bunch while learning how much nonsense you can put up with in the process.
Let's take my move to Louisiana for an example. I had a local friend who knew the area, so I had that going for me. She had a car, I had a phone, and someone out there had an apartment just right for me.
The first place we stopped was a horror show but very close to shopping and my new library job. We stopped across the street because the address was wrong. The guy on the phone, though, had mentioned a geography problem so when we heard "Y'all still looking?" we knew we were close.
His name was Greg or Craig or Frank. He was in his early 40s and liked cars. He led us first to the garage beside the apartment listing and showed us a vintage car. He and friends had just rebuilt the automobile for a friend who had died from cerebral palsy the month before.
They built it before the man died, of course. It was not an elaborate coffin.
Greg led us to the apartment, an attachment to the garage. "You can have the mattress," he said.
The mattress lay bare on the floor, save a large orange stain that matched the rust on the refrigerator. The toilet in the bathroom was on a platform and the shower resembled something elephants gets washed with.
My friend and I gave our condolences, our thanks, and ran like hell.
The second place sat behind a small house. I knocked on the door and was met with a single "what?"
"I called about the apartment," I said.
"Shit," the man said. "I guess she'll show you."
The disembodied voice then yelled for a woman who appeared. She had an apple pie face and a warm smile. The invited us to walk with her.
Around the back of the house stood a lone structure, much like those found in a Home Depot parking lot. Inside was a single room, about ten by ten. In the back was a small raised platform with room for half a twin bed. The bathroom held a sink and a toilet and a shower crammed in a space where all three could be used at the same time. Besides a single wall plug, the apartment had no other electricity.
The nice lady said, "It's only seven hundred dollars a month and we got other people wanting it. If you maybe want it today, I can talk to him and get you the wifi password for you internet."
Bowing to convention, I went on the biggest internet site and chose the first property that was about a third of my paycheck. We went there, the lady made me an awesome deal, and I lived there two years and change.
So, I guess the hint and tips on apartment hunting I can give you is trust the corporate places. At least they won't have crazy landlords holding out the wifi password or chainsaw needs.
Image by garycycles