We started searching for a two-bedroom apartment, duplex or house back in February.
The rental market is insane in our tiny college town: there are two dozen people competing for every rental at any given time. The local Facebook group that lists all the current rentals is filled with dozens of anxious posts from people looking to move, with no replies. Every landlord I talked to would be highly suspicious, and almost uninterested, because they had so many people in line for their rental property. It felt dismal to say the least.
We’ve lived in the same one-bedroom, second-floor loft-style apartment for the entirety of our marriage, and Saia lived there as a bachelor before we got married. It has always worked for us.
When we had our first baby, a lot of people asked if we were going to move, and I firmly replied no. We were planning on cosleeping, there was no need for a nursery: we were saving a lot of money by staying where we were. Our landlord had always been great, and we even were able to till a garden in the backyard!
I loved our apartment, and was perfectly content. Until one day I woke up, a few months pregnant with baby #2, with baby #1’s sweaty arms entangled around my stomach, and I suddenly wanted to move.
Gideon was finally sleeping through the night (thank goodness), and Hubs and I knew that having a second baby in the same bedroom as our toddler would be incredibly stressful. We had finally outgrown our one-bedroom abode.
Apartment Hunt #1: It Started So Optimistically
Hence the start of the apartment search. Here is what we looked at in the first round:
- A tiny rental house with amazingly nice landlords. This rental house had two pear trees in the backyard. It also had the washer and dryer in the kitchen (!). We said no because our king-size bed wouldn’t fit in any of the three tiny bedrooms. Priorities, y’all. It also just felt a bit dirty, and not updated. $695/month + utilities
- A really nice apartment in a really massive apartment complex. This apartment was actually very pretty, and new. We said no because carrying two babies, carseats, groceries, and assorted paraphernalia up a couple of flights of stairs would get old, really fast. Plus it smelled smoky in the hallways, we wanted a bit more privacy. $650/month + electric
- A decent fourplex. We said yes! It was perfect–or so we thought–it had THREE levels (upstairs with two bedrooms and bathroom, main floor with living room and kitchen, and basement with washer/dryer, bathroom and den area), plus a little backyard we would share with our neighbors. It was at the top of our price range, but the thought of having several different levels made us giddy! $750/month + electric and gas
We applied, submitted to a credit check, and got the apartment! The only problem was that the landlord (who was young, and hadn’t managed any rental before) kept moving back the move-in date. At first she said it would be available in April, then when we passed the credit check she promised us we could move in the end of June. Then when I contacted her to sign the lease she moved it from the end of June to end of August. As it turns out, she and her husband were currently living there, and didn’t want to be bothered to move out until their house renovations were done. Finally, after lots of tears on my part, we told her we were no longer interested.
Suddenly, it was the end of May, and we were starting at square one all over again.
I pulled in all my supporters–enlisting anyone in town who could help–and began working my way down a list of seventy-five landlord names in our town.
Apartment Hunt #2: Here We Go Again
Every morning, I would get up and start calling landlord after landlord. I made a massive spreadsheet listing all the names I had called, and what they said. Some told me to call back in a month, to check again. Others told me flat out that they had nothing available this summer. Wiping away tears of frustration, I pushed through: calling person after person. Eventually, we found a few more places to look at. I was willing to look at anything at this point. Here’s what we saw:
- A shabby apartment in a big complex. It had a big kitchen, very low rent, and good-sized bedrooms. We said no because it was in a huge apartment complex, smelled like smoke, and you could clearly hear a lot of noise from outside in the apartment. It also didn’t have a washer and dryer in-unit. Oh, and there was carpet in the kitchen. Ick. $585/month + electric
- A beautiful motel room. This was an unusual apartment–the landlord was slowly renovating a working motel into apartments, so half of the rooms were still used as motel rooms, and the other half were apartments. This one gave us pause: we liked the landlord, the kitchen was updated and HUGE, and the rest of the apartment was fairly nice too. We said no because it was part of a working motel. I felt so creeped out about having my littles run around with who know’s who checking in and out of the motel, that we said no. $900/month including all utilities
In Which We Find The Cozy White House
Finally–after dozens and dozens of phone calls–we found a landlord who had a rental house. We had mostly been focusing on duplexes and apartments, because they tended to be cheaper, but this rental house was in the price range of the apartments we’d been looking at, and even happened to undercut the duplexes we’d seen around town by a couple hundred dollars!
It’s got to be sketchy–I thought to myself.
Then we looked at it.
Yes, it is tiny–barely boasting 750 sq ft. It doesn’t have a dishwasher, and the kitchen appliances are old.
But–you guys–it has beautiful hardwood floors, an updated bathroom, newer paint, two bedrooms, a good sized kitchen, a big unfinished basement, and a massive backyard. In a cozy little neighborhood just blocks from our Alma Mater (where my sister attends). It has a lamppost out front (Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, anyone?). All for what we would pay for an apartment.
We snapped that baby up.
Things I LOVE about this rental house:
- It is a house. We’ve never had a house to ourselves before, and that alone is so exciting to me! We will no longer have to share walls with other people. Or cringe every time our toddler throws something on the floor (sorry neighbors downstairs). Yay!
- We will have two bedrooms (plus the possibility of a third in the basement).
- We will have a backyard, and not just any backyard–a huge beautiful backyard! I already have visions of a fire pit, twinkle lights, a baby pool, and a sand pit back there!
- We will have a garage, to shelter one of our vehicles from hail.
- We will have a basement for tornado season.
- We will have a washer and dryer!! No more coin-operated machines for us.
- We will have more natural light! The apartment we currently live in only has two windows, and sorely lacks in light.
- We will have rent that we can manage. The more we looked at places the higher the rent became. This rental house is an amazing price!
This rental house is just a beautiful gift from God. I don’t know how else to describe it. And I cannot wait to move in one week.
One week?! Better get packing…