Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moving On Up - Finding an Apartment

Upon deciding to move, the big question was WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD? We were pretty open to any neighborhoods on the north side, with preferences being Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square and East Lakeview. After spending a good portion of just about every day on Craigslist, I knew we had to narrow things down so the apartment search was not months long.

I love a good spreadsheet, and this one came in handy. I thought about everything I wanted in an apartment - and everything I didn't want - and put priority levels to them. This list was originally created with two columns: 1 for "needs" and 1 for "wants." Breaking them further into priorities gave me the chance to quantify each of the needs. Of course, Bob had input every step of the way. Well, as much as he chose to embrace my love of excel.

The balance was finding an apartment with the amenities we hold dear (new kitchen, 2 bathrooms, etc) with a well-populated neighborhood (drugstore/market close by, well lit, near transportation). The Craigslist and web searches continued, and with our priorities determined the neighborhood all hands pointed to Uptown.

We were able to give our realtor friend this spreadsheet and he provided some great apartments from the MLS that met our needs. We signed the second apartment we looked at!

If the Craigslist and Web research had not been done to get a gauge on what was realistic for a neighborhood's apartments, we most likely would have spent many more days looking at places in-person. Our realtor friend agreed that he hits roadblocks when renters/buyers cite lists of needs and a maximum price but are not willing to explore other neighborhoods beyond the one they are focused on.

Overall, this priority sheet was a great tool in our apartment search. The ranking part was difficult for some areas - "okay, I suppose laundry in unit is not really a need. . ."

The best news? Our new apartment meets just about all of our needs and wants - and then some! More to come on that. . .

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