Finding apartment in a small town?

marti8aJanuary 11, 2009

After classes ended in December, my 25yo dd decided college was not for her and moved home. I guess she was one of the good tenents in her last apartment because the landlord begged her to stay. But it was a college apartment where she basically just rented a bedroom and shared a kitchen with 3 strangers (all girls), no living room, and she really didn't want to keep doing that if she wasn't in school.

She currently works Fri-Sun but is looking for a full time job with benefits and she and a friend have started apartment hunting. This is a small town and the online websites don't have many choices, mainly the expensive ones. She and the friend found an apartment and was told it was $695 per mo, 1st floor, with washer & dryer. She also said that she & her roommate would have separate contracts. I've never heard of that before, is that common?

Also, I asked her to bring home a copy of the contract so we could read it, and when they went back, the manager said she couldn't let her have a copy, but that we could go there to read it off her computer. Is that normal?

Also, when they went back, the apartment was not on the first floor but the second floor, and did not have washer and dryer but the price was the same as the first floor unit. Is it normal for an apartment to come with washer & dryer? Is it normal for the price to be the same for both first & second floor? It's been almost 30 years since I have rented an apartment, but back then, the 2nd floor of a 2 story building was less than the bottom floor, either because of convenience or utilities, I don't know.

This was the lower end of the apartment complexes listed on one of the online apartment finders. I am going to look at a newspaper today to see if there is anything else for rent, like garage apartments or anything cheaper.

Is there any other method of finding apartments in a small town? She wants me to go with her tomorrow to look, but after seeing the prices online, coupled with renters insurance, utilities, and car insurance, I don't know how young folks pay rent.

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Hi, I think the separate contracts is a very good thing for young, unrelated people. It takes the burden off any one who is either left holding the bag if the other moves out for any reason, and that applies to the 'leaver' as well. Young people move a lot, and can argue a lot over who knows what, but at least if they're only left being responsible for half the money (unless I'm misunderstanding it?) they're better off than otherwise. I wonder if the landlord (or yourselves) is from the U.K., where storey designations are different - in other words what we may call the ground floor is called the first floor there, and our first is their second. Prices are based usually on individual features- # of rooms, etc. - of a place, not the floor (except maybe in the case of a penthouse, or fabulous view from the ... 40th). It is certainly not normal for apts to come with W/D's, though many higher end ones do, and/or have communal ones in the bsmt. so again one has look at individual contracts to work out prices. What I do strongly advise is that she first find that full time job (not easy these days!) and then sign on somewhere, because a) jobs are hard to find now, and b) rentals will only get cheaper as fewer people can afford decent ones.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 6:20PM
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The rent certainly needs to go down! No, we're in TX but you are right, we call the ground floor the first floor and the next one the second floor.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:01PM
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Also, I asked her to bring home a copy of the contract so we could read it, and when they went back, the manager said she couldn't let her have a copy, but that we could go there to read it off her computer. Is that normal?

I imagine the reason they won't let unsigned contracts leave the premises is probably a protective measure and has some legal reasons (someone might sign them or something like that). Probably a way to cover themselves.

As far as finding places, have you tried Craig's list, or City Data?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 8:17PM
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Thanks moonshadow, I've never seen City Data before, it looks interesting.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 12:16PM
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What should bring the rent down is the lack of a washer and dryer, more than what floor the apartment is on. I've seen many buildings where all the apartments of a given size are the same rent, regardless of what floor. However, every apartment that has a W/D or even just hookups for them has had a higher rent. I could see a walk-up apartment costing less than in a building with elevators.

To find apartments in small towns, I've tended to rely on the local paper, even if it is only weekly. They may have the classified ads on their website. Craigslist is also good. Are there any colleges or universities in the area? They usually have long lists of available rentals. Sometimes you have to be a student or alum to access them, but sometimes they are available online to anyone who checks.

You will run into different problems depending on whether your daughter rents in a large building run by a management company or from a small landlord who has just a few apartments to rent. It is sometimes easier to find cheap apartments if you look for the small landlords. But some small landlords are great at maintenance and getting things fixed. . . and some are not. Larger buildings tend to have dedicated maintenance staff who are on-call evenings and weekends. Small landlords who do most of the work themselves may take a few days to fix things.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 1:40PM
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When moving to a new town I always go to the local police station and ask if there is any area I should stay away from. I've always had good advice from them, about a good place to look and avoid.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 5:18PM
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Contact some property managers in town. They don't always list every item available. Well actually your daughter should. We're good friends with a property manager; he's not really interested in renting when parents call for their kids because to him it's a sign that the young person is irresponsible. I'm the same age as your daughter, so I know the frustration of finding a place and feeling judged for my age. SO Frustrating!

I would totally steer clear of that particular owner/property manager. Sounds like someone who wouldn't do the job when there's a problem.

My husband and I have an apartment in Germany now--things are a little different, but here's my website if you might be interested. I talk a lot about our transition into living.

Here is a link that might be useful: Making This Home

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 8:48PM
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