Professional Apartment Hunting Advice, From a Professional

Jordan Barber tells you how to find the rentable home of your dreams, if your dreams have low aspirations and don’t require a washer/dryer in unit.

Oh hi there, thanks for stopping in to see me. My name is Jordan Barber, a very (very) successful apartment-finding entrepreneur. I don’t have a lot of free time (very successful), but I was asked to write a short how-to on finding an apartment.

So, finding the right apartment: not as easy as it looks. You’re undoubtedly nodding your head in concurrence. Let me spell out a few pointers for you so you can stop nodding. I’ll begin here, so make sure to read this paragraph.

First, you need to impress the property manager. Whatever their name, size, or gender, give them a firm shake: “I’m a confident apartment-seeking individual” is the feeling you want emanating from your body parts. After memorizing this, things get a little more complicated so I’ve split my how-to into several parts. If you have not experienced significant elucidation by this point, I suggest re-reading this paragraph.

Getting Out of Your Current Apartment


Photo by Jason Eppink

If you’re like ninety-nine percent of all unsuccessful people, your “apartment” is barely classifiable as such. You’re a filthy human monster and your living space reflects this sorry state. Say this out loud for reinforcement.

If your apartment were a person, you’d probably end its life out of sympathy. Unfortunately for you, someone actually owns this place, so you have the prodigal task of cleaning it. The goal here is to make sure the owner never wonders “why did I ever rent to you?” or “why do I own such a terrible place?”

My professional advice is this: start early, and start small. A month before you move out, buy a big pack of sponges, around 20 should be fine. Leave them everywhere around the apartment. Then each day when you pass by a sponge, give each area a little sponge-swipe. By the time moving day rolls around, you’ll have sponge-rubbed most areas of the apartment. How easy is that? I’m a professional.

Even after all that cleaning, you’re going to have to adopt a certain finesse when the landlord comes to inspect. That hole in the wall? Oh, it was there before we moved in. I almost cut myself on it, but it’s okay that you never fixed it — I won’t tell anyone. I didn’t make that stain either, it was my roommate Cindy. I’ll give you her phone number so you can get that all sorted out. You’ll likely get dinged for a couple things here and there. Accept them. You need to pick your battles. But the ones you do, emphasize that A) none of it is your fault, and B) all of it is someone else’s fault. Probably Cindy’s fault; she was never a very clean person, and why isn’t she here with you? She must be irresponsible, similar to whoever would put a stain in that carpet. If things get a little out of control, cry a little.

Getting into a New Apartment

In a recession, it’s perfectly okay to move back in with the parents. But don’t be proud of it either — in fact, it should be a little shameful, but rest assured that everyone understands your current situation and once you get back on your feet you’ll be okay so there’s no worry that people are judging you it’s totally fine parents are great isn’t it nice to be home?

Or you could act like a grown-up and find your own place. First, you need to recognize that the amazing apartment of your dreams is out of your reach. So let’s set the bar a little lower. A little bit lower than that. Just a tad more. Think “Tijuana spring break hotel room,” with a washer and dryer if you’re lucky. That’s the kind of place you should start searching for.

But I’m not going to say that anything goes. You can have a few standards. Here’s a quick checklist to use when looking for a new apartment:

  • Do you have a pet? Haven’t you always wanted a pet?
  • How much money will you have to pay when they find out you have a pet?
  • Is it on the first floor? How often do you want to be robbed?
  • Did you know that people in England might say “burgled” instead of “robbed”? That’s awfully strange.

And that’s all you need to care about. When inspecting a potential new apartment, don’t over-think these things too much. If you get flustered, just nod your head: up to down, or left to right. Either works, but I wouldn’t mix up the two.

Roommates: What’s the Deal?

Good question that you asked about roommates. Well, the deal is that you’ll be living with them. Roommates are people who live together, in the same apartment. But most of the time they live in different rooms — I’d say that’s about 90% of the case. Maybe even 92% of the case.

You’ll be associating with them all the time — more than you probably care to, so choose wisely. By the end of your living situation, your other friends won’t be able to see you as an individual person, but rather as a mass of amalgamated, roommate-goo that once had multiple minds but now share similar speaking, sleeping, and eating habits.

There are significant benefits to having a roommate. So when you ask yourself “roommates: what’s the big deal?” or “friends: do I have them?” remember that more roommates will make the cost of apartment living cheaper. So in conclusion to the “roommates: what’s the deal?” question, the answer is “get one or two.”

And that’s everything you need to know about renting an apartment. Don’t worry about thanking me, I’m professionally recognized.

Jordan Barber is proud that the internet allows him to criticize, admonish, and irritate people from his own living room. And though this immense power only comes to the few, he promises to wield his hammer of judgment with a standoffish, thoughtful outlook.