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Thread summary:

Apartment searching: consistently running buses, excellent credit, apartment rental agencies

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Old 05-28-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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Here's the deal. My friend and I went to Chicago to look for apartments and explore a little. We thought we may have found a great apartment for July 1, but that may have fallen through (yay flaky people!). I have scheduled a job interview for June 8, and will spend a few more days looking for apartments. (We really want to live in Logan Square, have friends there already... but anywhere close to the L, or even consistently running buses, in that area would be great... our budget is $900/month max for rent on a 2 bedroom).

The thing is, right now, I don't have a job at all (and I've been told by several prospective employers that the problem is that I DON'T live there yet, not that I'm not qualified for anything), and my friend has one, but naturally it's down here in Tennessee. Plus I've lived with my parents for the last two years, and she's rented from a friend. Then again I have excellent credit and rented for a year before I moved back home with no problem (except for a strangely malfunctioning smoke detector, haha), and have the receipt for receiving my security deposit back. I'm just concerned with the whole "income" factor, and that my friend will not be able to come with me for this trip. But I have armed myself with the fact that I could lay down 6 months' rent and have a co-signer if totally necessary.

I know that finding a place in that price range in the Logan Square area isn't a huge problem, but I'm not sure what the best route to take will be. I have three full days I can look (a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and part of Wed. if necessary and MAYBE that Saturday morning - have something to do Sat. afternoon), but I hate to lay money down on something and drive 10 hours back home and wonder if we get the apartment or not (because I don't really want to come back a third time without a moving truck PACKED).

So my question is, what is the best route to take on this? I've heard horror stories about some of the apartment finding places, and getting up there and not having landlords return calls is obnoxious as well.

Also, what is the furthest north/west that you would recommend? I know going too far west can be sketchy, and lacking in english (although I can hold my own in a Spanish conversation).

any help would be appreciated (and trying to talk us out of it will not work, Chicago-bashing naysayers... you haven't had to live in hickville for 13 years )
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:53 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,707 posts, read 103,176,801 times
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You're going to have to get over your unease about apartment rental agencies, because given your time-crunched schedule and your concern about putting money down on a place and then skipping town, they're your best option. Here's why: first, they have access to all the apartments they're showing so they don't need to wait around for a landlord to return a call or show up with a key. That means you only have to coordinate showings with one party instead of trying to get a dozen people to agree to your schedule. Second, rental agencies hold your money until your signature is actually on a lease. Only then do they hand it over to the landlord. If either party backs out for any reason before the lease is signed, the agency gives you your money back, period. And they're a lot less likely to take their time about it than a mom-and-pop landlord. When I had a landlord back out on me, I even got my credit app fee returned. Third, you can protect yourself against the hassle of a lease deal "falling through" by working through a single agency. Just keep a list of which apartment is your first choice, second choice, third choice, et cetera. Then if the deal on your first choice falls through, you can simply instruct the agency to apply your deposit toward your second choice, and so on.

I've dealt with The Apartment People twice now and I had no real problems with them. The only niggle is that they would occasionally suggest apartments that did not meet my stated criteria -- really no different than any sales situation. But they're not high-pressure about it; when I firmly reiterated my needs, they backed off. As long as your expectations are realistic and you make them clear, they won't try to steer you toward junk you're not interested in. Speaking of realistic, you may indeed have little difficulty finding a two-bedroom in Logan Square for $900. The question is, can you find it in a part of Logan Square you want to live in? That may be a little trickier -- especially if you expect that $900 to include heat.

There is obviously a bit of "buyer beware" in a leasing situation, but that's true whether you're dealing with an agency or directly with the landlord. Just be sure to be nosy and open cabinets and closets, flush the toilets, run the sink tap to make sure there's hot water, look for water stains on ceilings, et cetera.

If "furthest North/West" refers specifically to the Logan Square neighborhood, I'd keep it south of Diversey and east of Kimball, maybe even Kedzie. Knowing Spanish will be quite useful in Logan Square, and a lot of North, Northwest and Southwest sides of the city for that matter.

Happy hunting!

Last edited by Drover; 05-29-2007 at 01:10 AM..
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Old 05-29-2007, 06:45 AM
 
3,631 posts, read 10,234,327 times
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Drover, thanks so much for your advice. I probably will get in touch with The Apartment People and maybe one other service (like I said, i've quickly learned that landlords can kind of flake out), and continue looking at CL and the Reader as well. Although, I'll probably make an appt. with TAP on a weekday, since I hear they seem to be swamped on weekends!

And I'm probably willing to go a little higher rent-wise if heat is included. As far as the furthest north/west remark, I was referring to the city in general. I've been thinking about looking in Avondale/Irving Park and north like Uptown (although I know some of those areas can be a little high).

Thanks so much, and maybe soon i can be dispensing some advice, if I ever get my butt up there.
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Old 05-29-2007, 06:49 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,707 posts, read 103,176,801 times
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I'm not a big fan of Avondale. It's fairly trashy and there are some issues with crime, particularly in the Belmont/Kedzie area. Safety-wise, Irving Park is pretty much fine from corner to corner. The biggest downfall of Irving Park, if you could even call it that, is that it is still an old-school, old-timer Chicago neighborhood -- it is not sexy or gentrified or a yuppie playground full of fashion-conscious pretty young things; its business district has a high vacancy rate and seems to cater exclusively to either Mexicans, people over 65, people needing car repairs, or some combination of the three. Yet I live in Irving Park and have somehow developed a fondness for it.

Uptown is a neighborhood very much in transition, an area where 'hood trash and Starbucks-chugging trixies mingle. And the 'hood trash will probably always be there even as it continues to gentrify, so it's an area where you're particularly advised to stay aware of your surroundings.

Last edited by Drover; 05-29-2007 at 07:09 AM..
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Old 05-29-2007, 10:45 AM
 
3,631 posts, read 10,234,327 times
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Thanks once again for the info. What would you say the boundaries would be Irving Park-wise? Because I think I MAY be working near there (well at least nearby the Irving Park L stop), and is that area affordable?

(We're not looking for any kind of yuppified glitz and glamour. in fact, I'm trying to run from the Tennessee yuppies as we speak.)


Also, have you heard any sort of ill speaking about Chicago Apartment Solutions, the North Clybourn Group or the Homestead Group? I just see a lot of listings by them on CL.

thanks SO MUCH again. I should have started posting sooner. there goes me and my "I can do it all" attitude. haha
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:05 AM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,004 posts, read 77,379,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supernerdgirl View Post
Thanks once again for the info. What would you say the boundaries would be Irving Park-wise? Because I think I MAY be working near there (well at least nearby the Irving Park L stop), and is that area affordable?

(We're not looking for any kind of yuppified glitz and glamour. in fact, I'm trying to run from the Tennessee yuppies as we speak.)


Also, have you heard any sort of ill speaking about Chicago Apartment Solutions, the North Clybourn Group or the Homestead Group? I just see a lot of listings by them on CL.

thanks SO MUCH again. I should have started posting sooner. there goes me and my "I can do it all" attitude. haha
LOL, if youre trying to run from yuppies, dont head towards Chicago. I lived in TN for awhile (Clarksville) and the "yuppies" down there are the "norm" for most folks (especially the far western suburbs) up here. Its getting rediculous. LOL I just do my best to ignore that crowd, but its hard when every other car around you costs as much as a small house and sometimes 18 year olds are driving them.
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Old 05-29-2007, 03:18 PM
 
Location: Chicago
38,707 posts, read 103,176,801 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supernerdgirl View Post
Thanks once again for the info. What would you say the boundaries would be Irving Park-wise? Because I think I MAY be working near there (well at least nearby the Irving Park L stop), and is that area affordable?

(We're not looking for any kind of yuppified glitz and glamour. in fact, I'm trying to run from the Tennessee yuppies as we speak.)


Also, have you heard any sort of ill speaking about Chicago Apartment Solutions, the North Clybourn Group or the Homestead Group? I just see a lot of listings by them on CL.

thanks SO MUCH again. I should have started posting sooner. there goes me and my "I can do it all" attitude. haha
Affordability -- at least by Chicago safe neighborhood standards -- is one of the main reasons I picked this neighborhood. I currently spend $900/mo (excluding heat) for a two-bedroom with a HUGE living room, HUGE dining room, back-yard patio and off-street parking. I'm not exaggerating when I say this apartment is bigger than the first two houses I lived in as a kid. We have so much space we were seriously contemplating getting a pool table -- and not one of those dinky little bar tables either. You should be able to find a smaller but still-comfortable two-bedroom around here for $800/mo, maybe even less.

The neighborhood boundries are, roughly, Addison to the south, Montrose to the north, California to the east and Knox to the west. Here is an official map (http://egov.cityofchicago.org/webportal/COCWebPortal/COC_ATTACH/Community_Areas_IRVING_PARK.pdf - broken link) (pdf) of the Irving Park neighborhood. The Addison, Irving Park and Montrose Blue Line L stops all service the neighborhood. Similar neighborhoods with similar safety, similar states of non-gentrification and similar rental rates are Portage Park immediately to the West and Albany Park immediately to the north. Jefferson Park just to the northwest is also a decent option, but tends to be just a tick more expensive than Irving/Portage/Albany Park.

And go easy on yourself; you can only "do it all" so much from 500 miles away.
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Old 05-29-2007, 03:40 PM
 
3,631 posts, read 10,234,327 times
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ooh, that sounds great! Thanks so much once again. Thanks to your help and a little more research on my part (I still had a FT job when I was trying to plan our first trip up there, so I was a little stressed anyway), I think this time I'll be a bit more ready for all of this mess.
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:46 PM
 
3,631 posts, read 10,234,327 times
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Default okay, i'm back*

alright, when I'm up there filling out an application on a place (be it with the Apartment People or another agency or a private landlord), I'm assuming that my friend's supposed to fill one out as well?? (which, of course will be a fun little thing since she will not be with me and I'm not sure if she can get to a fax machine or not).

I kind of worry that i'm going to get screwed either way, because my income level alone wouldn't justify the price range I'm wanting (in addition to the fact i don't have a job - yet), but then again, if she has to fill out an app. too, her credit score will scare the crap out of anyone (but mine's spotless.. would that balance things out?? heh).



*I am warning you all. I am a blonde, okay? and the last time i applied for an apartment (2 years ago in freaking Knoxville), it went easy as pie because spotless credit + low rent = easy cheesy.
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Old 05-30-2007, 01:31 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,707 posts, read 103,176,801 times
Reputation: 29983
Hoo, that's a tough one. I think you're best off contacting whatever agency you work with (and I do highly recommend The Apartment People because they have the largest inventory) and finding out what their policy is. Hopefully they'll be able to work something out. It might be best to have them fax both of you a credit app form right now so that you both have it all filled out, signed and returned before the search begins. I think your signature alone would be sufficient to secure a lease with the understanding that your roomie's signature will be forthcoming within a reasonable period of time. But again, contact the agency first and see if you can get this all worked out in advance of your scouting trip.

Cheers!
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