July 13, 2013


I mentioned my move to a new place in my last post, but I think a move of this stature (or of any stature honestly) warrants a post of its own. I am oh so pleased and very relieved to announce that my roommate Jacqueline and I endured three weeks of living in an episode of House Hunters - Indianapolis Apartment Edition and are happily moving into a townhouse today!

As a rule, I don't do well with the unknown. I see you, new years resolution. Searching for a roof over your head is no easy task for someone like me. It's even more difficult after just starting a full-time job. Add another person to please (aforementioned roomie) and you've got yourself a recipe for stress. Let's just say it wasn't a good look on me.

After looking at too many houses and apartments to remember, we finally managed to find a place that was in the budget, in a great location and had all of the necessary amenities. Our new place is a 3-bedroom townhouse. It has a one-car garage, a parking space, like-new washer and dryer in the unit, a deck, updated kitchen, 1.5 clean and renovated bathrooms and two decent sized rooms. The third bedroom is a tad bit tiny, but it does give us flexibility to have a third roomie join the mix if she'll have us :) Plus, the whole thing is situated in the heart of Broad Ripple, a walkable neighborhood with coffee shops, restaurants and a great walking/running/biking trail. Sidenote - have you heard of Stamen Design's watercolor maps? I was introduced via this girl's great blog. The map below includes my future neighborhood!

I have a handful of advice for any newbies to the rental market, especially those in Indianapolis, and I'd love to share in case it eliminates even a sliver of the stress that I felt.

Advice for Apartment Hunting 

Know your budget and what you expect to get for it. 
This may seem like a no-brainer, but discuss your budget and what exactly you expect to get for your money with your roommate prior to looking at houses. We had a rough budget going in, which did help, but we had different expectations for what we required in order to feel good about spending a certain amount. For example, our place is on the higher end of the budget and got the go ahead because it had a) updated appliances b) a recently renovated bathroom and c) a good location. Without these things, the price tag would have been too much to deem our find a valuable one.

Focus on a handful of neighborhoods. 
We focused on four in Indianapolis. Our key neighborhoods were Mass Ave., Fletcher Place, Broad Ripple and South Broad Ripple. We decided on these areas because of their accessibility to work (around a 30 min. drive or less), their neighborhood feel (we wanted young and professional neighbors if possible), safety (two girls in the city, yo) and pricing that didn't break the bank. Mass Ave. and Fletcher Place were close to both of our workplaces but the cost of living (aka paying for parking, higher rents, inaccessibility to friends, smaller spaces, likelihood of laundry facilities) made these areas less desirable. Broad Ripple and South Broad Ripple were both great contenders and we opted for a place that on the northern end of the Broad Ripple neighborhood. It also has the added benefit of a garage, appliances in the unit and safety/comfort. We are relatively familiar with the area but not too familiar that it doesn't seem new to us. Best of both worlds anyone?

Be ready for 24-hour insanity. 
I found myself online looking at potential rentals at all hours of the day and night. Places were flying like hot cakes and the only reason that we nabbed our place was because I emailed the owner within 3 hours of posting and set up a viewing for later that day.

Sell yourselves as the best tenants ever. 
Most of my emails to potential landlords discussed a) the fact that both my roommate and I have full time jobs that we love. b) that we are both butler alumni who love Indianapolis. c) that we are non-smokers and don't have pets. d) that we are flexible and are free after work any weeknight and anytime on the weekends to view the place. e) that we love the neighborhood and the look of the house/unit. f) a big ol' thank you for the heck of it.

Discuss deal-breakers. 
Just like dating, you need to know your "absolutely-nots" and discuss them with your potential roommates. Our deal breakers were not having a dishwasher, bedrooms too small for our current queen beds and a nasty bathroom (aka mold/plants growing anywhere near the shower).

Indianapolis is currently a landlord's ideal market, but a homebuyer's dream. 
Confused yet? We were too. Indianapolis has a million adorable homes for sale and about two for rent. I have a few theories about this. The first is that Indianapolis is a great starter city for young people because of its general affordability and relatively good job market. People just starting out tend to like to rent. The second is that many of the young pros my age really began to think about growing up and becoming financial secure around the time that the recession hit hardest (I was a junior/senior in high school). Uncertainty about financial things is basically engrained in us and we don't like to take risks with big investments (aka buying a house). That said, move quickly on places you like and be patient because the right one may pop on the market tomorrow!

I hope this little list helps any clueless renters like us. I'm happy to share any other tips and tricks I might have up my sleeve. I'd love to field any questions in the comments or shoot me an email at allyson(dot)dobberteen(at)gmail(dot)com.

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