When we were first married, we lived in a very typical apartment complex. We got all the perks of apartment living - no lawn maintenance, a readily available handyman, and a neatly plowed parking lot after every snowfall. We very much enjoyed these things, but they were outweighed by the less appealing realities of apartment living: noisy neighbors, barking dogs, a nauseating combination of multiethnic foods, the constant concern that our tv or music was too loud. So, when we moved out, I emphatically stated that I would never live in an apartment again.
I just would like to take this opportunity to say that the joke is on me. When, oh when will I learn to never use these absolutes? (ugh, there I go again.)
The perfect house
When looking for somewhere to live in Virginia, I of course restricted the search to houses. No apartments. And we found the cutest house to rent! Two bathrooms and the most perfectly southern porch. We didn’t get to visit it, what with all we had going on over the summer, but felt comfortable signing a two-year lease after talking with the owner and the current tenant. We were ecstatic to be moving to such a cute house!
For anyone who has never had the pleasure of coordinating the logistics of a move across multiple states, it is a headache. Much like living in an apartment, this is something I have vowed to never do again. (I am aware this pretty much guarantees that we will, in fact, be doing it again.)
Since I had had a c-section seven weeks prior to the move, and consequently had a seven-week-old baby in tow, we figured it would be easier for me to fly with the baby, while Husband made the 13-hour drive from Michigan to Virginia (with the two cats). I was going to go and stay with my parents in Ohio, while Husband started to get settled in our new home and state before I got there with the baby. This was one of our very best decisions.
Things got off to a great start - The moving truck was packed and headed south, I was safely in Ohio with our baby, and Josh had a very smooth and uneventful - albeit long - drive to Virginia.
The not-so-perfect house
He got to our new home right at nightfall, and did a quick walkthrough before FaceTiming me to show me around. In one of the upstairs bedrooms he told me, “I think I saw a cockroach in here earlier”. I brushed this off, because in our three years of marriage, Husband has seen a “cockroach” approximately 60 times. To my knowledge, none of these have ever been cockroaches.
But, he was right this time! It really was a cockroach. And he saw many, many more come out as the night went on. After a few hours hoping there weren't really that many, he bailed. He loaded the car back up, packed the cats, and headed to a hotel.
Remember when I said it was a really good decision for Husband to go before me and the baby? I cannot even imagine trying to navigate that with a newborn in tow. While he was dealing with all of this, I was eating my favorite Ohio ice cream and going to the pool with my Mom.
He contacted the property owner that night to let her know about the condition of the rental (as she lived in a different state, and we figured she genuinely didn’t know), and didn’t hear back for over a day. She told us she would send someone to spray, but didn’t want to discuss the situation with us.
In the interim while we were waiting for the owner to get back to us, I had called an exterminator to see if we could get a consultation to find out how bad the infestation was. I was told they don’t do consultations for cockroach sightings, because if you have seen one (alive), then you have an infestation. They also told me the grossest factoid I have ever heard: For every one cockroach you see out and about in your home, there are another 200 in the walls, pipes, etc. GROSS.
I haven’t fact-checked this and I never will because I’m afraid Google will show me a bunch of roach pictures if I were to search it. But any number above zero is beyond my comfort level, so I was definitely not okay with the situation.
We tried working with the owner to resolve the issues we were finding, Husband from a hotel room in a new city with two cats, me from Ohio. She was not responsive to our concerns, and I was starting to panic about the thought of my tiny baby in a roach-infested house. So, between the bug issues, a growing list of other safety concerns, the property being generally unmaintained, in addition to the owner being unresponsive, we decided to bail.
This left us frantically searching for a new place before the moving truck arrived.
Enter: the apartment.
The timing of this worked out perfectly. I truly cannot emphasize this enough. To find something in a matter of days that was in our budget, in the general area of town we wanted, incredibly well-maintained, and move-in ready was not something I thought was possible. Sure, it’s an apartment, but I decided to make an exception to my rule given the alternative.
It was a very stressful first week in our new state, but in an attempt to be positive about the situation, we are focusing on all of the things we learned from our mistakes! Here are just a few:
- Ideally, go to see a place in person before agreeing to live there. We are a prime example of how this isn’t always possible, but if it is feasible, do it! There are things you just can’t get from pictures or videos. When he got to the house, Josh kept saying he just didn’t have a good feeling about it. Gut feelings are important - especially about where you live. It’s hard to really get this without actually being in the place.
- Whether you are able to visit in person or not, ask to see everything. We felt totally nosy and rude doing this, so we didn’t. It’s awkward to ask a stranger over FaceTime to see their bathtub, under their sink, in their cabinets, etc. But if you’re thinking about living in a place, this is your business, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re overreaching.
- Visit a place at night. This is a tip from the exterminator I talked to, and I never would have thought to do it on my own. But if there is any sort of bug issue, it’s more likely to be visible at night.
But the fun part! Here are some pictures of our apartment. It is most definitely the nicest place we have ever lived together!
I love the hardwoods, the bathroom, the high ceilings, the natural light, having a washer and dryer on the main floor, and the mantle! I am already counting down the days until it’s socially acceptable to hang Christmas stockings.
So, that is how we came to live in an apartment again. We are so excited that we get to live here, and are grateful to have a safe and livable space for our family.
If you have any wild moving stories, or any helpful tips for vetting a place, I would love to hear them in the comments below!