As I pack up my apartment and prepare to move for the fifth time in six years, I find that I have learned a great deal about what I don’t want in an apartment. I also have a short list now of things that I do want in a future residence.
First, there are a few non-negotiables:
- A clothes washer and dryer in the apartment – The condominium that I owned from 2004 to 2011 didn’t have a washer and dryer. It didn’t even have hookups to buy them. I could have converted the front hall closet into a washer and dryer nook, but it would have been cramped and I would have lost a valuable closet. Instead, I spent more than seven years doing my laundry down the hall, using many, many quarters. Never again.
- A dishwasher in the apartment – Most US apartments have a dishwasher, but my flat in Germany barely had a kitchen at all. For three years, I hand-washed all of my dishes. I’d rather not go back to that.
Most (but not all) modern US apartments have my non-negotiables, so I’m not too worried about finding them. What I really have to focus on while looking for my next apartment are these other niceties that come with having space:
- Deep sinks – There are several things I do regularly that are hindered by shallow sinks. For example, I have an 18 cup Pur water filter on my counter, and another one inside the refridgerator. In order to refill them, I have to use a pitcher as a medium step. In my previous apartment, the faucet had one of those extendable hose things at the end, and I could use that. It would be nice to just be able to put the entire tank inside the sink and fill it right from the tap. (Or maybe just have a fridge with a water dispenser in the door- that would work well also.)
- Lots of storage space – In the apartment before this one, there was a small walk-in closet off the bedroom and a mediocre amount of kitchen cabinet space. The space under the bathroom sink was tiny. That was it for storage space inside the apartment. It was a miniscule place, with tiny amounts of storage. The apartment I’m in now does well on that front- there’s tons of cabinet space in both the kitchen and the bathroom, with lots of drawers for stuffing things in. I even have one kitchen drawer that never really got used at all, except for a label maker and some kitchen gadget instruction manuals. This is the dream, folks- so much storage space that you can afford to mostly ignore an entire drawer for a year.
- A wide bathroom counter – My bathroom in Germany had no counter around the sink- the sink attached to the wall and if I wanted a cabinet underneath it, I had to put it in myself. There was a five or six inch deep ledge set into the wall over the sink that ran the length of the bathroom. That’s where I stored all the things that you would normally have out, like a toothbrush, shaving stuff, and so forth. There was also no medicine cabinet there, so my regular pills were on that ledge. Anything I didn’t need often was stuck into the tall cabinet that I purchased for the bathroom.
- A kick-ass shower – I never really take baths, but every apartment shower is also a tub. I hate having to step into a tub to take a shower. I would much rather have a dedicated shower. Maybe something like this:
- Lots of counter space in the kitchen – I have learned that if I don’t have a lot of counter space in the kitchen, I won’t try to cook very much. It’s important to have room to prepare things. In my condo, I had very limited counter space and most of my cooking was of the nuke-and-eat variety. In Germany, I had no counter space at all, and I rarely even went so far as to microwave stuff. I brought fantastic cookware back from Germany that had barely been used at all.
- A good layout – This is the sort of thing that you only figure out after a lot of moves, but the right layout is very important. A washer and dryer on the patio means going out into Florida humidity to get your freshly laundered but somehow already swampy clothing. A bathroom door too close to the toilet means never being able to step into the bathroom without some sort of interpretive dance. A patio that looks out onto a parking lot means you’ll never really get to open your window blinds in the evenings unless you want to entertain all of your neighbors.
Above all else, privacy and a quiet apartment are the things I hold most dear. I’ve lived in places where you hear the nearest road very clearly and I don’t ever want to endure that again- it’s a subtle, slow moving stress that builds up over time, until you’re ready to do truly nefarious things to loud people outwside.
What are your must-haves when seeking a new place to live?
Editor’s Note: I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers. I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?