Apartment-hopper or the pursuit of happiness?

allicrichDecember 18, 2006


This is a follow up to the message I had regarding the upstairs neighbor and her noise (Subj:"Starting to Regret Move...Time to Leave?").

Just wondering if anyone has had multiple incidents of dissatisfaction or unhappiness at more than one place and moved out to seek greener pastures?

I ask because my mom jokes with me that she always keeps my address in pencil because she says I move a lot. I know she's only joking and truly cares about my happiness, but I still wonder if there's such a thing as "too much moving" to different places because your dissatisfied - sorta like job-hopping is considered on a resume?

I recently got out of a lease renewal because of issues that I couldn't handle: 1)uncontrollable roach infestations in the building, 2) consistent outlet short circuits (kept causing the fridge to cut off). This place was a high-rise building condo owned by a nice couple, but they had issues with the building management and told me they "wouldn't twist my arm to stay" when I told them of the issues I was having. They also hinted at selling the place and we eventually worked out applying the security deposit to the last month's rent.

With that experience in mind, I purposely signed a month-to-month lease to prevent breaking a lease where I'm at now(renting a room in another condo). Two months later, I'm now uneasy about my current situation - a very hostile upstairs neighbor and overall difficulty adapting to living with a roommate. I'm the first person to understand that no place is perfect and the cost of moving (even just my studio sized stuff) is not fun. I stayed at a previous apartments for two years and one year, respectively. But has anyone else had the gut feeling after just a couple of months that a place is not where you want to be and have you moved out (if you were able to)?


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Yep, I did that. There was a period of time where I seemed to move every two years. My dissatisfaction was almost always because of noise issues (because, let's face it, in an apartment, your happiness is directly proportionate to the consideration of your neighbors). My last residence was actually a co-op apartment that I owned where I foolishly believed the neighbors would be more respective (being owners and all). It turned out to be one of the worst for neighbor noise! I lived there for 4 years, the first 3 were in complete misery because of my horrible upstairs neighbors. The new guy who bought the place from them was actually very quiet and I enjoyed the place much more, but by then was so sick of Queens, NYC and apartment living and having to hold my breath any time: A car blasting loud music pulled up outside (people tended to idle their cars with music blasting and have impromptu parties in the street); An apartment next or above or below me changed hands; A car alarm started to go off ... any number of noisy scenarios that could shatter the peace and destroy my personal space. If you dread coming home, then how can it really be a home? I relocated to New Hampshire in January and am now, finally, living in a house in a quiet community. It. Is. Heaven. And I can't really complain too much about my Queens co-op now as I was able to sell it for double what I paid, which allowed me to pay off my debt, buy a car and put a hefty down-payment on the house I ended up buying. But enough about me, I really just meant to say, I feel your pain, I really do.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 8:44PM
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Thanks for your reply. I just had a moment feeling as if I was the only person on earth who can't put up with unhappy situations and dreading coming home. Good to know others pursue happiness and truly seek to make home where their hearts are.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 10:19PM
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I'm a landlord and I look at "apartment hopping" as a negative. 2 years is fine but when its every 12 months or less, not a good sign. Even when it's explained the applicant is moving because of problems its still a negative. I feel I have nice units but they are still apartments. You can hear your neighbors and I explain this while showing it.

My feeling is if you have had 4-12 bad lanlords/ apartments/ neighbors you are either very unlucky or perhaps its the applicant bringing this on them selves. If its only one or two bad situations I understand.

I know its probably the wrong impression but thats what I get and I'm sure other LL feel the same.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 12:16PM
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How does bring a situation on themselves? It seems like in many of these cases the tenants can't control who lives around them, or the landlord does not screen for BEHAVIOR in advance.
Oh, but I forgot, nlifer, you know everything.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 4:35PM
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"My feeling is if you have had 4-12 bad lanlords/ apartments/ neighbors you are either very unlucky or perhaps its the applicant bringing this on them selves. If its only one or two bad situations I understand."

OMG. I had one apartment that I lived in where my downstairs neighbor routinely played the drums. The people above me liked to practice opera scales (the walls and floors and ceilings were like paper). My last apartment I had a couple who lived above me with a toddler. In a studio apartment (no bedroom). This was a pre-war building with hollow floors (no insulation). The people refused to put any rugs down and allowed this brat to run and pound and scream and jump starting around 6:30 AM until about 10 or so at night (I had never previously heard of a 3 yro w/ a 10 PM bedtime, but I guess that illustrates the kind of permissive parently we're talking about here. 3 guesses as to who ran THAT household). Additionally, they gave this kid toys like hard rolly pull things, a KEYBOARD that was laid on the bare floor so the the kid could pound on it. The parents used to add to the misery by chasing the kid around the apartment with their heavy soled shoes on. This was in a 2-room apartment, there was no bedroom and thus no escape from any of it. Oddly, the most pleasant apartment I lived in noise-wise was the one off of Broadway in Manhattan next to a comedy club where people lined up for the late show under my bedroom window starting at midnight, every night of the week. The same people would pour out of the club at 2 AM, drunk, get tall boy beers from the corner deli and set up their little parties under my window. That all was a very pleasant experience compared to the toddler.

I'd like to know how any of the above could have been my "fault". SHEESH.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 8:10PM
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One suggestion that may help when you look for a new place. Ask about the construction. Our apartment is concrete construction between units and what noise we hear is minimal. They are also all one-story units so nobody's above or below you. We were very leery of renting since we'd owned our own home for so long, but figured we could stand anything for one year and then buy a house after we figured out what area of town we wanted for sure. Now, we're pretty darned happy and may just stay here. Hope you can find some peace and quiet (and especially a place with no bugs).

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 9:16PM
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I think nfllifer has a valid point. If someone moves too much and complains about their different neighbours too much, there is a chance that they are too sensitive or have too high of an expectation of quiet in an apartment.

I'm not saying that's always the case (and neither is nfllifer). Sometimes it could just be bad luck.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 8:39AM
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nfllifer did list, as the FIRST option, that perhaps you have had bad luck.

But were I a landlord, I'd give an apt-hopper much greater scrutiny than someone who'd been more steady.

(for one thing, people who *cause* trouble for landlords--not paying rent on time, putting too much wear and tear on the place, annoying the heck out of the neighbors--ALSO switch apartments often. I'd want to be sure I wasn't getting one of those, either)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 11:30AM
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I understand the points from the landlord perspectives. However, I've never been a trouble tenant. In my previous two places, I stayed two years (renewed and carried out a lease with a rental) and a little over one year (carried out a lease in a condo that I rented, and intended to renew, but the issues with the uncontrollable bugs and two fridges that continued to go out caused me and the landlord to work out an early termination). So again, there are times that I think I'm never satisfied or too sensitive, but I remind myself that I have stayed at places for more than a year and have fulfilled leases. I'm a very compromising and flexible person, but I just have a certain level of comfort when it comes to calling a place home, especially when I'm paying for it.

The current place is a roommate situation that I did because I needed to reduce my living costs and had a certain time frame to work with to avoid paying more rent to essentially stay with bugs. We'd hung out a few times before I moved in, but the last few months have been somewhat of a surprise as I learn more about this person and realize our lifestyles and personalities (when it comes to living with someone) just don't mesh. I had the foresight to do a month-to-month lease, since I hadn't had a roommate in a while and the roommate owns the place. I tried a new type of living arrangement, and it just isn't working for me, so I'm not beating myself up. I'm just now balancing living within my means and being able to look forward to coming home.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 12:17PM
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I will also tell you that, as an employer, it matters hugely to me whether the applicant understands what I'm looking for.

So, i bet you can mitigate many negatives, in the landlord's eyes, if you go in saying, "I know you're looking for a responsible person who fulfills their contract, is reasonable to have arund, pays rent on time, etc. Here is the evidence of that for me, even though some OTHER evidence might make you wonder; here's the info to explain the things that might be seen as a negative."

The fact that you WANT to prove you are responsible would matter a lot to me.

and I'd never hold it against someone that they left a roommate situation, frankly.,

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 3:14PM
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I will say that I have taken on 'frequent movers' on a couple of occasions, and I was not let down.

I don't just look at an applicant's residential history, I look at job history and credit, how they handle themselves when I'm meeting with them, as it all rolls together to paint a picture. What I've seen is that a 'less desirable' candidate is the frequent mover who commonly does so via breaking a lease and also tends to be more transitory in employment and less responsible with their credit. They always seem to be seeking a utopian state that meets all their needs, and if one talks with those seeking nirvana long enough, one will hear inferences that all those issues that caused them to move or change jobs or created problems with credit are someone else's fault. ('My boss was a complete jerk, no one liked him', or 'they never sent me the bill on time so my payment was never on time getting back to them' or 'you know how it is, we just forgot to return the DVDs we rented). Those types of people just don't get into my houses.

However, if you were to apply for one of my rentals, showed good credit and job stability, yet were honest about the living situations you'd been through, I don't know that I'd let your mobility bother me so much. Stuff does happen beyond our control (as oft mentioned in this forum). It's also in the presentation, as tally_sue mentions. If your tone was on the complaining side and I heard terms like "that landlord wouldn't do anything to take care of the place" and "that girl had all kinds of men around and there was a crazy neighbor upstairs" I'd feel like I was getting sucked into a drama and there was more to come (which I don't need!). There are classier, 'businesslike' ways to address those types of issues. And class goes a long way ;) Just a tip: never bash your former landlord. Let the potential landlord come to their own conclusion (they will). You could say something like "I left that apartment because of an unresolved insect infestation and there were also some wiring issues that caused my fridge to stop working and my food spoiled frequently" I'm going to conclude right away that your landlord failed in their responsibilities. So you've painted an accurate picture without coming out and calling your landlord a slacker. (Just like all tenants don't like to hear "they're all alike" no landlord likes to hear about how we're all alike. Because we're not.) Make sense? And as far as the current scenario, you could say "You know, I find I'm more of a quiet person and prefer when there are not guests at all hours or loud music coming from upstairs late at night, so I feel it's better if I find a situation more suited to my taste.' You've just told me some good aspects about yourself that are positives from a landlord's perspective, what kind of situation you're leaving, without creating a melodrama.

Can't reiterate enough how much being honest pays off. Most people can tell when they're being fed a line and being told what they want to hear, and if I sense an applicant is doing that to me, they've lost me right there. But if I see someone is choosing their words carefully, so as not to be critical of individuals or circumstances, it somehow comes across as part of the 'mature, responsible' package and I'm much more willing to listen further and take all factors into account.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 10:04AM
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Omigod! I thought I was the only one. I have moved 3 times in the last 7 years. The first time out from underneath 3 young guys with their first apartment. Loud parties every night and the stereo cranked at other times. Landlord finally spoke to them after an all night keg party where they cracked my ceiling. The dubious "peace" barely lasted a month before the parties started again.

Apartment 2: I specifically asked the owner if the apartment was quiet and explained what I was moving away from. I ended up under a couple with 2 children in a 1 bedroom apartment. One child was a toddler. I found out from other neighbors that the former tenants in my apartment were always complaining about the noise level.

Apartment 3 (my current nightmare): I again asked the super who showed me the apartment if there was any problem with noise. He swore he never had a complaint regarding noise in the apartment. I ended up under a drunk and his girlfriend "clog-zilla", who stomped around at all hours of the day and night on bare floors (usually qwith shoes). For the past 2 years I have lived thru the re-arranging of bedroom furniture at 2a.m., hours of stomping back and forth and daily crashing of who knows what (sounds like they were dropping a sofa). I also find out the people above them had been complaining for the past 5 years about the noise level. They move out, the son moved in and the crap starts all over again. I mean who needs to drag furniture across the bedroom at 2, 3, 4 a.m.???? They finally get carpeting (after countless complaint letters to the landlord and a threat to withhold rent) and its quiet until the son gets a girlfriend with 2 kids (yep--a toddler and an infant). The noise level has progressively gotten worse since the girlfriend moved in about 2 months ago. Now I have the all night parties AND a toddler bouncing off the walls. This kid is running around the place until 2:30 in the morning! As I type this, the toddler has been running and jumping all over the apartment on and off all day and continuously for the last 2 hours. The pounding is so loud my ceiling lights are shaking. I dont blame the child, I blame poor parenting.

Is the pursuit of peace and quiet worth another move??? Heck yes! I can't wait to get out of here. I will never ever ever live below anyone ever again. Unfortunately it is way too expensive to rent a house here (NYC suburbs) which would be my first choice.

Am I overly sensitive to noise? At this point, yes. I cringe whenever I hear them enter the apartment. Am I too picky because I expect to sleep through the night without a major disturbance from upstairs? I don't think thats too much to expect from anywhere you live.
Apartment living goes both ways. One must expect some degree of noise but at the same time people need to be considerate of others.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Yes,I have moved like a nomad much of my life for this reason.
We just moved here last year and already want to move again cuz the apartment allows you to have a cat but no dogs.
Yet,people are walking dogs right in front of the building all day long.Makes alot of sense.
We only want a very little dog,and it is my exprience cats acn be more destructive to apartments then dogs.Both apartments nearby you are allowed,it makes no sense.
This apartment is also much smaller then other one and has an ant problem BAD.
It's hard to find a good apartment that's reasonably priced and not a slum.(and I dont live in the city either)

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 6:21AM
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I think its probably not good to mention to prospective landlords if you're looking for a place.

The way they look at it: either you're a trouble tenant who gets into alot of disputes with previous landlords and/or neighbours; or, you're bad material for some other reason and that's why you've only ever been able to rent substandard places.

It's good if you've had at least one place where you've stayed some years (5+), kept a good relationship with the landlord, and felt satisfied with the place (or pretend you were happy even if not true) but eventually wanted to move to be closer to work, family/friends, shopping or just for a change of pace after 5 years, something like that.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 6:46AM
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Look at it this way - it's the freedom of apartment living! One of its bonuses is not being tied down with a mortgage that's hard to get rid of if you need a change of pace :)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 8:22PM
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Why is it that those who are persecuted by the noise end up moving? Such injustice.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 8:12AM
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Here is something ironic. The last place we lives at we had the noisiest druggie neighbors from upstairs. They NEVER slept so they were more than likely speed freaks (they sure looked like them). Anyways, after months of complaining about the noice we had enough and finally moved out, breaking the lease and having to pay a penalty fee and everything. The ironic part is that the following week the upstairs speed freaks were finally arrested in a home raid operation and they were gone. Had we just waited one more week....

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 5:32PM
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If your old neighbors are found guilty this could be leagle grounds to get back your penalty in court. You left because of the problems/ enviornment they created. Your landlord did nothing to resolve and if they are convicted you have proof as to why you needed to leave. It may not be worth fighting but I think you have a decent chance.

Of course you would have to prove you complained to the landlord etc.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 9:54PM
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