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Wife and I are getting kicked out: The "I've never rented an apartment before" story

CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
So, my wife and I are from Delaware, and wanting a change of pace, we decided to move into the MiL's empty house in Texas, for no rent! And she's giving us a car! Amazing!

We get there and she's still living there, and the car is broken. And she wants rent. Whatever. We pay rent (it's cheap), and I pay to fix the car. Four months later she moves out, finally. Then she loses her job, moves back in, and unfortunately our relationship has soured (with the MiL, wife and I are still good).

We're trying to get out ASAP. Thing is, neither of us have ever rented an apartment, and I've never bought a car. I've looked at a few places that are budgetable, going to looking around tomorrow. What should I be looking for, and what should I know before going in? This is in Texas, Houston area.

Also, I've never bought a car either. That's a big one, too.

Posts

  • Lord PalingtonLord Palington he.him.his Registered User regular
    As far as the apartment goes, check out the area at night and on the weekends. Sometimes an apartment complex will be nice and quiet during the work day, and it will be a very different scene at night.

    Also, will you be having friends over? Ask about visitor parking policies.

    SrUxdlb.jpg
    ShadowfireIrukaRainfall38thDoeLostNinjaTofystedethLinespider5EndaroA Dabble Of TheloniusElvenshae143999CarnarvonSkull2185Goatmon
  • PantshandshakePantshandshake Registered User regular
    I've found that if you're looking at an apartment, and part of your brain says "Well, I guess I need an extra friend to stand guard at the moving truck while we carry my stuff around," don't live there.

    bowenEncCauldBasarRingo38thDoeTofystedethAuralynxKruiteTNTrooperSkeithHandgimpElvenshaeShadowfire143999ClannMorganCarnarvonTheDrifterKalnaurLanlaorn
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Think hard about what the commute will be from and to work.

    Initially you may think "oh, extra 20 min isn't that bad" but it can really add up over time.

    BasarCelestialBadgerLostNinjaOatskimeLord PalingtonHandgimpspool32Shadowfire143999CarnarvondjmitchellaKalnaurEliminationPreciousBodilyFluids
  • WordLustWordLust Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    In my experience location and demographic are big factors, and they are closely linked. For example, I stayed in several different apartments while in school and I’d describe them thus:

    Apartment 1 – An apartment complex emphasizing excellent groundskeeping, which included tennis courts, volleyball, a pool, etc. (That contributed to much higher rent though.) The on-grounds activities combined with nearness to a university meant a lot of the people renting here were twenty-something college students, which meant a lot of kids being dumbasses. Random loud music at early hours. One time a drunk student crashed his SUV into one of the ponds at 3am. The apartments and grounds were great, but the place was dripping with dudebros in the worst way.

    Apartment 2 – This one was also near the university and attracted more thrifty students because the rent was some of the lowest rent in town. Combined with the short commute, that was a great deal. But the rent was that low for a reason. The walls in this place were thin, so you could hear the neighbor arguing with his wife or their screaming baby. People left garbage bags sitting in the hallway. (They’ll get to taking them out eventually. Maybe. If you call the office and complain.) Cigarette butts everywhere. Every once in a while someone would get mugged. PROS: Low rent, short commute, no drunk ass dudebros! CONS: Everything else.

    Apartment 3 – Middle-ground on the rent, but these apartments were further away from the college campus and kinda back in the woods. The complex was also not on a main road. It was on a road that you would probably only drive down if you lived down there. That’s a huge plus because it means the traffic is low, no drunk college idiots, and things stay relatively peaceful. The groundskeeping was excellent and so was the maintenance. The buildings were a little bit old, but otherwise it was a solid apartment complex and I ended up staying there for about five years.

    These are sort of subjective things to look for, because it’s hard to know for sure when you don’t actually live there but:

    --What other sorts of things are around the apartment and what kinds of tenants does it seem like it would therefore attract?
    --How is your commute (if that is a concern)?
    --How peaceful is it? Are you on a highway with trucks coming down at all hours and venues nearby that attract people who make a lot of noise and commotion? Finding a complex away from main roads is desirable, IMO.
    --What do the grounds look like? Clean? Well kept? No garbage bags sitting around? No cigarette butts everywhere? If it looks like the grounds are well-kept, that could be a strong indicator of a responsive maintenance team as well (though not a guarantee), which is something very desirable in an apartment, because you may run into issues with plumbing or heating at some point, and you’ll want it taken care of ASAP.

    --If you have pets, don’t forget to check into the apartment’s pet policy.

    --Does the apartment complex have its own laundry facilities? Are they inside your building or will you have to trek through the rain/snow to another building?

    WordLust on
    ElvenshaeCarnarvon
  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    About the apartment: Ask for everything IN WRITING!

    Don't ever assume people, specifically estate agents and representatives of apartment complexes, are very nice people and are there for you when needed.

    Rent increase? Get it in writing.
    Inventory? Get it in writing.
    Release clause? Get it in writing.
    Survey? Get it in writing.
    etc...

    About the car: I am assuming you need a simple, cheap and reliable car. Look no further than a late 90s or early 00s Japanese such as Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. I don't know how else I can offer advice on this. Do you have a budget or any specific requirements?

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    EncAuralynxRainfallCarnarvonIncenjucarPanda4You
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Managed communities (part of mega companies like ZOM and other rental conglomerates) have pros and cons as well. A large scale managed community is more likely to have solid servicing on your need (AC goes out in Florida? Fixed same day, as opposed to ignored by the landlords as long as they can get away with it). It also is more likely to raise your rent fractionally every year until they drive you out because they can and will. Small scale communities generally are cheaper, but you get what you pay for. Individual landowners renting actual properties are super hit and miss. Sometimes they are 100% perfect, others they are a living nightmare. You have to do your research.

    Were I going to rent, I would look for a managed apartment community about 10% more expensive than the median for the room size you are looking for in a non-college bedroom community or suburb. Odds are good that the folks living there will want nothing more than to have a peaceful place to live, because you are slightly above the median it will likely be a nicer place, and will also ensure the folks living there are drawing some kind of reasonable benefit to retaining there. You might spend a bit more, but your living conditions will likely be very peaceful and comfortable.

    Or, alternatively, a single-landlord rental in a condo community where the majority of folks living there own their properties, this will likely be more expensive but probably will be the best case if the landlord is reputable.

    Enc on
    ElvenshaeCarnarvon
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Oh, if you have never rented, you will probably need to leave a bigger deposit (or settle for a complex that is not as good as others).

    EncJebusUDCarnarvon
  • VishNubVishNub Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    If you're looking for an apartment near where you already live, that's a big advantage because you already know what areas are like, traffic patterns, attractions, night life, etc... to at least some extent.

    I would start with pad mapper (which basically compiles craigslist and other ads) to get an idea of what you can expect to pay for certain amenities in the areas that interest you. Then pick two or three areas, and as many apartments as you're interested in within your price range and visit as many as you can stand. Information on the market is super important, and there's kind of only one way to do that.

    There are also, usually, apartment locator people. Some of them are fee based, some of them take a cut from the building. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but the latter case is free and it's certainly worth the time to see if they come up with anything good.

    VishNub on
    Steam = VishnuOwnz
    Dota2 = Glitchmo
    Carnarvon
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Ask/check on average utility prices. Older AC systems can really do some damage to your budget in the summer. apartments are always a bit hard to get air flowing due to all your windows facing one direction, so having shitty central air can be devastating.

    When you do get a place, do a thorough inspection and don't half ass filling out the form of current issues. Take pictures of damage before you move in, be overly cautious. If they say "oh we know about that, no need to write it down" write that shit down. We take videos of our apartments upon move in.

    If you aren't one for noise, try for top floor apartments. People walk heavy and there's nothing you can do about having a stomper above you, or heels on hardwood. I also prefer them for general saftey regarding windows/balconies.

    For location, check on your route to work, but also to your grocery store of choice. Our complex is a bit out in the suburbs, but the trade off is the grocery store is under 10 minutes away, and there's a walmart across the street for immediate needs. This makes day to day errands so much easier. If the complex is a pain to get into/out of, is on a shitty road, or everything is 15+ minutes away, You will be putting a lot of burden on your one car to keep your life running. Nice grocery stores also say a surprising amount about the area.

    L Ron HowardElvenshaeCarnarvondjmitchella
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    As far as the car stuff, you can find a lot of decent cars for cheap on Craigslist ($3k or below). I'd recommend requesting to take the car to a local mechanic for an inspection before final sale, just so there's no surprises. It'll probably be well worth your $100 or so.

    Some cheap, no frills cars that are good options, ordered from generally most to least expensive: Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Saturn S-series.

    BouwsTCarnarvonAlanF5
  • chromdomchromdom Working on having a better attitude Oh yeah, I movedRegistered User regular
    I second padmapper as a resource for finding an apartment

    I also recommend Carmax for your car hunting needs -- they were straight up and easy to work with when I had to sell a car, with a higher than expected degree of transparency for a used car dealer, and next time I need to buy one, they will definitely be on my list of places to look at.

    Mr. Rogers wrote:
    You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.
    Carnarvon
  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    When looking at the apartment itself take a good look at everything even if it seems fine at first: Look under the sinks. Turn on the shower for a few seconds just to see if it has enough pressure for your liking. Think about the storage you need. Are there enough closets, drawers, cupboards? (I once, without realizing until I moved in, rented an apartment that didn't have a single drawer in the kitchen...).

    Noise in an appartment is an extremely important issue. It'll vary based on how much you expect to be able to make noise without being a pain in the ass to others (You like listening to music at a moderate-high volume? Having people over often? etc,) and how tolerant you are of hearing your neighbors. Of course in an apartment building you'll obviously have to hear the people around a bit but some places are really awful for that to the point of being able to hear a calm conversation between 2 people next door pretty clearly.

    PSN: PatParadize
    Battle.net: Fireflash#1425
    Carnarvon
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited October 2016
    For another car option, I think for your first time it's better to overpay a little and go to a dealer to check out used or certified used cars. I've heard mixed things about CarMax, but certainly also worth a look.

    Craigslist/personal ads are the advanced car buying methods that can get you better deals, but you can get burned with little to no recourse.

    Have a friend negotiate for you if it sounds to scary, but the benefit of dealing with a business vs some rando to me is worth the cost.

    MichaelLC on
    "Never believe management about anything anywhere." -Aistan
    Carnarvon
  • furbatfurbat Registered User regular
    edited October 2016
    Its hard to give advice because each area is so different. I rented three different places in a big 10 town and 6 places in Midwest suburbia.

    In college we were able to find mid priced but nice/quiet places as long as we lived away from campus. There was a large community of older grad students who rented and drove to school. No dude bros to be found.

    When we moved back home we found a very different atmosphere. Unlike the college town, the population is static. People who live here were likely born here. Since a mortgage is cheaper than renting here people with good credit and stable jobs live in houses. It would be easy to find a 3 bed house in an ok area and pay $600 a month with a 30 year mortgage.

    We have two kinds of apartments here.

    Option 1: dirt cheap terrible apartments but your neighbors range from bad to scary.

    Option 2: 2x-3x expensive apartments catered towards the few transient young professionals. The ones that are 2x as expensive are the same quality apartments as option 1 but you are paying to live where the bad neighbors cannot afford to live. The 3x expensive ones are nice though.

    People pay more just to not live with poor people. It's not like option 2 apartments are in a better location or better quality.

    And now I live in a house, in the best school district, in a premo neighborhood, and my mortgage is still less than option 2.

    furbat on
    Carnarvon
  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    chromdom wrote: »
    I second padmapper as a resource for finding an apartment

    I also recommend Carmax for your car hunting needs -- they were straight up and easy to work with when I had to sell a car, with a higher than expected degree of transparency for a used car dealer, and next time I need to buy one, they will definitely be on my list of places to look at.
    MichaelLC wrote: »
    For another car option, I think for your first time it's better to overpay a little and go to a dealer to check out used or certified used cars. I've heard mixed things about CarMax, but certainly also worth a look.

    Craigslist/personal ads are the advanced car buying methods that can get you better deals, but you can get burned with little to no recourse.

    Have a friend negotiate for you if it sounds to scary, but the benefit of dealing with a business vs some rando to me is worth the cost.

    The OP hasn't shared his budget for the car but I think Carmax prices are very expensive for common folk cars such as Civic, Corolla, etc. Carmax is great if you buy a luxury car from them because they'll provide extended warranty service for any car they sell and with expensive cars such as Mercedes, Porsche, Range Rover you always get back the money you paid for extended warranty.

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    mRahmaniCarnarvon
  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    I didn't see this,

    You'll need at least first month's rent a deposit, possibly up to the size of a months rent, and possibly last month's rent as a first time renter.

    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
    EncLord PalingtonSkeithCarnarvon
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    I'd stay away from anything that is a "managed community" unless you're a boring saint (and you may be). They hold immense power over residents that can bite you in the butt later on. Someone smelled a whiff of mary jane under your door and reported it? Out in 3 days,.

    One point I didn't see mentioned is that you have rented before. From your MiL. This is kinda important as many rentals controlled by companies tend to want previous landlord testimony (i.e. that you didn't destroy the rented unit and payed rent on time). You may say, "but she's family!" though frankly if she simply says "They were quiet and payed on time" to any question that is usually a shoe-in.

    A former partner of mine was actually my "landlord" for a bit and was wonderful when we amicably spit in assisting me getting into new housing.

    I'd suggest looking toward private landlords if you can. This is hit-or-miss on extremes. You need to meet them and determine if they're good people... which isn't a skill everyone has (I don't... I see too much good and ignore the bad). That said, TX has really lenient owner laws. They can basically kick you out because they had a bad day and it would be legal.

    But a good, trustworthy private landlord can be the difference between a bad apartment and a good one.

    http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/eviction-notices-nonpayment-rent-texas.html

    A Landlord can evict for... basically any reason in TX and it is pretty much immediate. I greatly suggest seeking information about the company/individual who owns the property you're seeking to move into. For comparison, in MA the eviction process is long and tenant-biased. In TX it is short and immensely biased toward the property owner regardless of contract.

    http://www.mass.gov/courts/selfhelp/housing/eviction-landlords.html

    My advice as a professional is to get to know your landlord, do some research and know where you may come into conflict. This may be less of a "right apartment" and more of a "right landlord" situation.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
    KetarCarnarvonLoveIsUnityShadowfire
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    I'd stay away from anything that is a "managed community" unless you're a boring saint (and you may be). They hold immense power over residents that can bite you in the butt later on. Someone smelled a whiff of mary jane under your door and reported it? Out in 3 days,.

    YMMV, but generally this is a selling point for where you live. Don't shit where you eat, and all.

    CarnarvonA Dabble Of Thelonius
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Sure, but in TX that also means your neighbor in a "managed community" can initiate an eviction because they don't like your religion/politics/dress.

    I mean, if you're saint that isn't an issue. If you have some habits that aren't liked in TX (drugs, BDSM, for example) you can lose your home quick.

    3rddocbottom.jpg
    Carnarvon
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2016
    Granted I'm in Austin, but as a degenerate in the suburbs I have had little trouble with my neighbors. Being quiet and reasonable is about all you need. Managed communities, after transitioning from Baltimore, are mostly alright. There are some caveats, but if you are a quiet couple and your apartments are new and well built, you will have little issue. I've found that the huge benefit of having a managed community is that, if you are a low maintenance tenant and are generally not in your neighboors shit, they are not really interested in who you are. Its just a company of people and its their day job, not their house.

    My experience here is that most communities are new, managed, and that there aren't a ton of private landlords. Austin is a bit of a strange landscape because our private landlords often drop the tenant game because they can make so much more off of airbnb. Baltimore was the opposite, with few companies and many private owners. I've found that holding a company liable for shit is generally easier than trying to drag some dick to small claims. The downside to complexes is that they are inflexible. They aren't going to haggle you on late rent or laundry prices, or cut deals if you can fix something up yourself.

    Read reviews, but note: no one likes their landlord. Reviews will tell you what types of problems people have with the area and help you choose accordingly. Are people mad because dogs are barking at all hours? Are they mad because maintenance sucks? I usually look out for noise complaints.

    Iruka on
    EncCarnarvon
  • BasarBasar IstanbulRegistered User regular
    I also liked the perks of managed communities back when I lived in the US. Private landlords can be difficult when something needs to be fixed, etc. but managed communities usually have their own maintenance contractors so things get fixed really quickly. Depends on the management company though.

    i live in a country with a batshit crazy president and no, english is not my first language

    Carnarvontynic
  • CarnarvonCarnarvon Registered User regular
    It looks like the wife has manged to patch things up with the MiL, so we're not getting kicked out. I was entirely expecting to be on the street, but such is the mercurial nature of my wife's family.

    I'm still planning on moving out (with my wife), but fortunately the timetable is pushed back. I'd just like to thank everyone in the thread for their help, it's all extremely helpful. Makes me remember why I've been part of this forum for closing in to a decade.

    chromdomGnizmoShadowfireElvenshaespool32
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    It might be a good idea to keep on with the plan to move out. If your MIL is now in a good mood with you, she will be more inclined to write a good reference.

    chromdomEncIrukabowendispatch.oLoveIsUnityMoridin889SmrtnikAngelinaOatsShadowfireElvenshae143999
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Starting the hunt early also means you can start taking note of leases that are about to end. sometimes the perfect apartment is going to be available 3 months from now. Removing the immediacy means you wont have to pass it up. The more time you give yourself, the easier it is.

    bowenCelestialBadgerMoridin889VishNubA Dabble Of Thelonius
  • chromdomchromdom Working on having a better attitude Oh yeah, I movedRegistered User regular
    Also allows you to save for moving expenses (truck rental, movers, pizza and beer for friends, whatever)

    Mr. Rogers wrote:
    You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.
    Elvenshae
  • Mr KhanMr Khan Not Everyone WAHHHRegistered User regular
    I've grown very accustomed to convenient grocery store access (living two blocks away from one for 2+ years), it's definitely worth consideration for all those times you realize you forgot feta cheese or really, really want an Arizona Tea right now, but getting in the car is such a hassle.

    Commute is huge. My commute is only 3 miles one way, but it is nightmarish during Rush Hour as these are semi-residential roads that everyone uses as thru-ways because lol city planning, there are 3 goddamn schools in the way, and it leaves me coming into work in a sour mood almost daily. I did try to move closer this year, but my work is in a weird place where in one direction they have $900 "micro-studios" and in another direction they have the most blighted neighborhoods in town. Point is, a smooth commute is incredibly helpful.

    Basically priority rank
    1) Can I afford this
    2) Safety
    3) Commute

    Everything else falls somewhere else on the scale (except for "on-site laundry." I refuse to use laundromats flat-out.)

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    IMHO it's easier to live near work and do a big shop every week. At least with grocery you can go at non-rush hours.

  • azith28azith28 Registered User regular
    When i went apartment hunting (I took a job across country, work paid for me to fly up and look for housng/apt) I took my digital camera with me, made recordings of walking through every place i visited, took photos of all the paperwork at each stop so i could stop at night and reevaluate everything. most places will have a flyer or two, but you dont want to get the locations mixed up, hence the photos. If its a highrise apartment, does it have an underground parking garage? If its say a townhouse, does it have a garage? It honestly was pretty easy to arrange. As far as a Car goes, If your looking for painless, practical, value, then you want to go used, start looking in the pre-owned section of offical dealers. Don't expect most new car dealerships to want you to 'buy' a new car. They want you to lease it.

    Stercus, Stercus, Stercus, Morituri Sum
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