2016, apartment, april, blog, debbie, myblog

Apartment hunting

Searching for an apartment is stressful. This will be my third time searching and I can’t say it’s easier but I can say I’m more knowledgable.

Previously, I kept a Google Doc to keep track of apartments I was considering. This time, I made a Google Sheet and am keeping track of each place that way. It’s a good way to stay organized and compare each place.

When I visit an apartment, here’s what I take into consideration:

  • Price of rent
  • Availability 
    • Do they have units available in your time frame?
  • Square Feet
  • Application process
    • What paperwork? What fees? Application fee? Deposit? 
    • Sometimes the application fees can be outrageous. 
  • Income verification
    • Do you need to show them paystubs?
  • Carpet
    • I perfer carpet to hardwood so it’s important that it has nice carpet. 
  • Parking
    • Is it free? Is it available? 
  • Bathtub
  • Gas or Electric 
    • I’ve learned I perfer electric. I’ve lived in “gas” apartments and it’s just one more bill to pay. 
  • Bills covered
    • Sometimes they will pay some bills for you or it’ll be included in your rent. 
  • Wifi or cable
    • Is this included? Probably not. 
  • Fitness
    • Is there a walking path? A fitness center in the leasing office?
  • Windows 
    • Nice blinds?
  • Kitchen 
  • Dishwasher
  • Washer/ Dryer
  • Appliances
    • Are they stainless steel?
  • Closet
    • Is it big? 
  • Pantry 
    • I never thought to ask about this so I showed up and realized my unit didn’t have a pantry. A pantry is nicer than shelves. 
  • Pool
  • Location 
  • Close to highway
  • Close to grocery
  • Reviews on Apartmentratings.com
    • This website offers reviews that are written by angry hot-headed people as well as level headed previous residents. Read the reviews carefully. 
  • My Comments
    • What’s your impression? 
    • How does the community look? 
apartment, blog, debbie, debbiegillum, july, myblog

Apartment buying tips

In June, I was apartment hunting and I became a pro at calling and looking at apartments.

Here are some tips when starting your apartment search: 

– Know the area you want to live in. If you don’t know what area you want, then your search range becomes too gigantic and you get overwhelmed. Figure out the zip code or exact city you most want to live in.

– I did a lot of my searching online in places like ApartmentFinder.com, Zillow.com and Craigslist.com  and found that to be a good way to see what was available.

– Start your search sooner rather than later. I ran into this problem because a lot of places already had all their units booked for my move in date. Some places only require a 30 day notice from their residences while others start the process 6 months ahead. Start as soon as you think you want to move.

– When you call an apartment complex, tell them your expected move in date and what kind of room you’re looking for. So I’d always say, “I’m looking for a one bedroom for a late August move in” then they’d usually tell me they didn’t have any available. haha

– Bring a camera when you tour the complex! No seriously. Best tip ever. Take pictures of the sample room and the complex. Zoom in on the toilet. Take a selfie with you and the apartment leasing manager.

-Bring a notebook, folder or at least a pen to jot notes down on. It’s embarrassing having to ask the leasing person for a pen. I just knew they thought, “If she can’t even afford a pen, how will she afford this rent?”

– Try and get a copy of a floor plan or whatever brochures they have.

– Jot down in your notebook where there is tile, carpet and hardwood.

– Ask about promotional move in specials. Military discounts? Book now and get one month free? Sign within the next week and get a bedbug free room?

– Be firm about your budget. Figure out how much you can pay for bills + rent and stick to that. Some people will ask you this question and be prepared to firmly answer no matter how judge-y they will be when you tell them your amount. That’s their problem when they roll their eyes at you and give you some rude response like “we might have a studio in the basement for that amount…”

– Keep in mind every complex has a different kind of room to show you. Some will show you a sample room that is already furnished, an unfurnished room, a tenant’s room as it is, or the leasing office might be in their sample unit. Be prepared for anything. My favorite is the unfurnished room and my least favorite was seeing a guy’s bedroom while he was still in there. I was too horrified by how this boy “lived” and couldn’t notice whether there was carpet or tile in the living room.

– Read reviews online but keep in mind that most people who write reviews are writing them because they are angry and bitter bored individuals. Don’t take them too seriously. I loved Albany Woods and still read the most hateful reviews online. To each is own.

Important questions to ask when looking at apartments:

  • What utilities are included in rent? 
    • Some places include internet, tv, gas, electric, etc 
  • Is there a gas bill?
  • Which utility companies do you use?
  • Can I pay rent online?
    • Is there a fee for paying rent online?
  • How fast does maintenance respond to requests?
    • Can I submit maintenance requests online?
  • Where are the mailboxes? 
  • Where is the dumpster? 
  • Is parking free? 
    • Is guest parking allowed? 
  • Is there a walking trail nearby?
  • Do you allow subleasing? 
    • This way, if you’re miserable there, you can put your apartment on Craigslist and try to sublease it out and move elsewhere 
  • Is there a grocery store nearby? 
  • Are the appliances stainless steel? 
  • Do you only offer 1 year leases?
  • What kind of security is there? 
  • Do you replace the carpet before the new tenant moves in? 
  • Do you require renter’s insurance?
    • How much?
  • Is there a fitness center?
    • Is it 24 hours? 
  • What is the application process like? 
    • What fees?
    • Security deposit? 
apartment, blog, blogpost, debbie, debbiegillum, july, myblog

My Review of Albany Woods

I’m moving out of my apartment soon and I wanted to share with others the nice time I’d had and why I’d recommend others move there too.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Albany Woods and would recommend it to anyone. First, the apartments are big. You get a lot of square feet for what you pay. It’s a good rate compared to other New Albany apartments.

I liked being within biking distance of the library, churches and the Kroger grocery store. The pool is very nice and often used by the residents. It closes in the winter and opened Memorial Day weekend.

There was always plenty of parking for myself and guests. It was never an issue.

The walking trail around the property is something that really sets Albany Woods apart. It’s great for walking and jogging at any time of day. There is also a nice dog park and community garden.

The dumpster was near my apartment so taking out the trash wasn’t a big deal. If you’re ever looking for free crappy furniture, that’s the place to go. There were always couches, TV stands, mattresses and other random old furniture there.

They also have a 24hr fitness center connected to the leasing office. It has two TVs, an elliptical, weight machine and two treadmills. It’s hardly ever used so it’s a nice workout room.

I had soft fluffy carpet (while a weird color, it hid stains nicely) that I liked. I also had nice stainless steel appliances.

The leasing staff was always very friendly. They would answer my questions and be happy to grab packages that were held for me. In the leasing office, there is free Starbucks coffee, movie rentals, book rentals, newspapers, magazines, printers and computers. Best of all, they often had freshly baked cookies. It’s a great leasing office!

I often felt that the grounds were very quiet, like a nursing home almost. I always felt safe, especially with the gate. Even for living relatively near the highway, the noise was not an issue. I was worried it would be an issue but it never bothered me.

Maintenance requests can be made online and are responded to in a timely fashion. The men are very friendly and leave a note inside when they’ve completed the request. I never had any major maintenance requests that weren’t properly handled. Maintenance was very good about salting and plowing during the winter. They did their best.

The only reason I’m moving is because of the location. I want to be closer to downtown Columbus and right now it’s a 15-20 minute drive with no traffic.

They do have an online rent payment system but it doesn’t seem to take the money out on time and so I’ve heard horror stories about people being charged late fees when they use the system.

In regards to other complaints: yes, there was flooding around the grounds but it was just after a big rain storm came through. The gates did stay open in the cold weather to prevent the gates from freezing, so it was for a justified reason. I never saw a lot of dog poop in the grass, like previous people have complained about. Someone mentioned garages are rented out for storage to people who don’t live there. From what I observed, that is correct. But, I never wanted to pay the $80 a month for a garage anyway so it was fine. The stairs were fine in my opinion and like I said, noise wasn’t an issue.

If you’re considering moving to Albany Woods, I’d say go for it! You won’t be disappointed.

2014, apartment, blog

My first apartment

“I hope I don’t regret signing this lease” 

It’s a crazy step toward adulthood when you sign the lease of your first apartment.

I searched for the right apartment for about 2 or 3 weeks until finally I chose the one that best fit my needs. First, I researched what city I would want to live in. Then I Googled apartment complexes in that area and read online reviews of them. If I lived in New York City, I would have used an online resource like Compass because then I could see picture of what the apartment looked like and read in-depth about the neighborhood where it was located. Everything I could to know is on one webpage, which would make it very easy. I scheduled tours for the ones I was most interested in.
I kept detailed notes and took pictures when I toured each apartment. Taking pictures and taking home a floor plan brochure really helped. I could have kept track of my favorite apartments and neighborhoods on Compass’s mobile app. Sometimes I felt like it was me vs. them on my search for the perfect apartment and I think it would’ve been great to have had a website on my side and aiding me in my search every step of the way. I look forward to Compass expanding out to Ohio.

The last step in my apartment search was showing my parents the top 3 apartments I liked. I really value their opinions and I wanted them to notice things I may not have thought of before.

I moved into my apartment August 9 and that was such a crazy day. It was a lot of assembling furniture from IKEA, figuring out which drawer will be the silverware drawer and learning the key code to use the front gate.


So far, I’ve really loved my apartment and am very happy with my choice. I was scared that I’d have loud neighbors like I did in college, but my neighbors are very quiet and friendly. In fact, everyone I’ve met is friendly. I love that I live so close to the leasing office because they have free Starbucks coffee in there, a fitness center, magazines, movies, newspapers, and sometimes free cookies.

The challenges I’ve had so far mostly relate to just being on my own. I found a stink bug in my bathroom and I screamed like I was in a horror movie. I wanted to call my dad and make him come over to kill it. Instead, I closed my eyes, wrapped some tissues around a pair of tongs and drowned the stink bug in my sink. Probably not he best way to kill it but oh well. It was that terrifying experience that caused me to both buy bug killing spray at 1am and Google “how to kill a stink bug” only to realize that bug killing spray doesn’t really work on them.

I’ve also struggled with minor things like getting my ice maker in the freezer to work or having heat come on. All I had to do was schedule maintenance and some guys would come in while I was at work and leave me a note saying they fixed it.

One of my favorite things about my apartment is that I live alone. I’m not lonely because of Facebook and hanging out with friends from the church I joined. It’s great that I get to do whatever I want when I get home. If I feel like tying a towel around my neck to pretend I’m a laundry superhero, then I can just go for it. No one will tell me not to.

I love my apartment and I wish I could spend more time there but I guess I need to go to work so that way I can afford it.

Laundry-Girl Superhero!