Like many people, from that time that I entered college until my late twenties, I moved residences quite a lot. I’ve lived in my current house for almost 6 years, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult. With all of that moving, I slowly learned what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to apartments and houses. There were some obvious things that ruled places out of my list of possible rentals. For example, in one of the houses I saw when I was looking for a place to live my junior year in college, the ceiling in one of the bedrooms was partially caved in and crumbling. A large tarp was taped to the wall and the more intact areas of the ceiling to catch wayward chunks lest they fall on the occupant of the bed below. Of course, that was college. I ended up in a house in which one of the bedrooms had its only heat register in a closet. The closet in my own room, however, was windy, due to the fact that, from said closet, there was a poorly sealed exit to an upstairs porch, where I never dared venture since it leaned at a 15 degree angle and looked less than stable. The fact that this is one of the better places to live among the ones I saw should tell you a lot.
I did learn less obvious lessons in my apartment searches, and some of them were merely personal preferences. For instance, I learned that good water pressure is very important to me. Some people may be able to get their hair adequately washed and rinsed with sub-par water pressure, but I am not one of them. Bedroom brightness is another important issue. I’m not one of those people who requires complete darkness to sleep, but I find it difficult to fall asleep in a very bright room. When I was in graduate school, I lived in an apartment in which the bedroom in the morning was, I swear, somehow brighter than outside. Thus, I could rarely sleep past 7:30 am unless it was a cloudy day.
One of my oddest lessons was taught to me in my mid twenties when I was looking for my first (and so far only) dwelling that was completely my own–no parents, no roommates, no boyfriend. I was on a limited budget, and I saw a few scary places and a few that were so small that I was pretty sure that (considering that I worked from home) I might go crazy spending most of my time in such a small space. So, when I came upon the place I ended up renting, I jumped on it. The price was right. The neighborhood was decent-ish. It was a pretty good size. Where do I sign?
It wasn’t until I had begun moving in that I realized the apartment was lacking in a certain feature: kitchen drawers. The kitchen had exactly one drawer, which was about four inches wide. There had been a number of things on my mental checklist of apartment features, but sadly, “Make sure kitchen has drawers” was not among them. What makes this even more peculiar is the the kitchen had just been rehabbed, and I was the first resident of the apartment in its present state. Who builds a kitchen with a single four-inch drawer in it? Where was I supposed to put kitchen towels, cutlery, and the like? Ultimately, my solution was to put a small dresser in the kitchen. It looked a bit odd, but well, it did the trick.
It’s true what they say: you don’t know what you want until you don’t have it. I learned that I want kitchen drawers. Two minimum, at least eight inches in width.