Thursday, January 24, 2013

Apartment Hunter's Guide to Interpreting Craigslist

From Indianapolis to Europe, I've lived a LOT of places. I've seen a lot of people and a lot of things and after all this time, not much surprises me. Finding a new place can be ridiculously stressful. Who am I going to end up with? Are they going to be psycho murders? Will they be obnoxious partying potheads? Will they come in my room to start vacuuming at six in the morning? Despite all these questions consistently pounding on the side of my skull whenever I pack up my bags -or in this case, bag, tent and sleeping bag- I find one aspect of moving to be highly entertaining, and that's the classifieds. In my search for a place, I've noticed an interesting pattern that I feel most people (especially all of you new apartment hunters) should  know about. With that, I give you The Apartment Hunter's Guide to Interpreting Craigslist!

Everyone in the world of apartments wants/ needs your money; hence they are caught between telling the absolute truth and making their place sound like the road to enlightenment. Why are they stuck in the middle? Well, landlords and potential roommates don't feel like wasting their time with a lot of foot traffic and appointments when they know damn well a successful CEO isn't going to want anything to do with a room with bunk beds. At the same time they don't want to admit that their place is a dump either. They have a lot of other ads to compete with; consequently, landlords dust off their diction and dive into the world of copy writing. Ads are littered with words dancing around the actuality that you either really can't afford this place or you are likely to be shot upon entrance. Here are some phrases to look out for:

"Beneficial Housing Arrangement"
Nice diction here. Watch out for this one ladies (and in some cases, gentlemen). Also disguised as "free apartment" this one is usually a request for a lovely younger lady to live with an older, lonely, not so lovely man in exchange for...something. If you're lucky, maybe 1 time out of 10 it's a family asking you to be their nanny or personal assistant (though they tend to make it less suspicious sounding). One thing's for sure, if there's no such thing as a free lunch, there's no such thing as a free apartment.

"Great for students!"
I fell victim to this once. It's probably the trickiest wording I've encountered, but I believe I've decoded it.
9 times out of 10 this usually means you will be sharing your place with two or more people. It also means the place is pretty small and sometimes a complete hole in the wall (almost literally) with, very likely, no kitchen. If you live in the Los Angeles area, it can also mean you essentially will be staying in a hostel or dorm. You know the deal; bunk beds, furnishings, maybe roaches and all the fixings.

Also look for the word "Travelers".

Fabulous word. You want this word. As I mentioned. There are standards involved in the place. It usually means the people there are towards the end of their college career or have a job. This usually involves the age range of 23ish to 32ish.

Note: Another interesting thing I've noticed is that when you pair the word "professionals" with "students", you get a good combo. It means there are standards but the roommates aren't too "mature" for you. The best place I found was a four bedroom top half of a duplex with the best room mates, an awesome kitchen, a living room, dining room and back yard.

"Artist Space"
As an artist, this one is my favorite. Usually means no kitchen, no furnishing, no heat, probably no walls. The only real bonus is that it's usually a big space. Great for skating.

See above "Great for Students!"

Small as hell.

"Cool People"
Tricky one. Usually what it says it is but it depends what your definition of cool is. It usually ranges from hipsters to potheads.

Incredible. Usually people don't use that word unless it's genuinely incredible. But make sure the price matches the word. If it sounds too good to be true. It is.

Now that you've found out what to look out for, you have to know what a roomie or landlord looks for in you. First impressions are very important so when sending your initial e-mail, tell a little bit about yourself. Not a novel, just four or five sentences. Be sure to mention your name, your job and an interesting fact.  Especially if it would benefit the new roomies. If you're a baker, like to brew beer or work for Gucci, say so. People like potential perks. Leave your pet peeves and drama out of the e-mail. Not many people will take you in if the reason you are moving is because you painted your boyfriend's Harley pink in anger and now he's out to kill you...just sayin'. Show interest in the space and the people, show that you can mesh with them well but don't become over-excited. One ex-roommate of mine was thrown off by, not only one woman's over-excitement about the place, but the fact that she e-mailed him a picture of her plant. Yep. A plant.

Lastly, SPELLCHECK! I commented on how my previous landlord managed to continuously pick four random people off of Craigslist who got along 95 percent of the time. I asked him how he did it. He said he starts by checking their sanity via spelling and then a quick phone call. It sounds crazy but when you think about works? The willingness to spell correctly and formulate decent sentences indicates that you are taking getting a place seriously. So remember, no slang. No computer colloquialisms. Keep it mature but fun, folks.

So that's pretty much it. If you'd like to share any advice I've missed,  feel free to post a comment!


And for your further entertainment...A few ads I found entertaining:

$875 Looking for another Gay Male Nudist for Roommate (West Hollywood/Hollywood)

Seeking another Gay Male Nudist roommate with no barriers living.

2-bedroom--2 Bathrooms with balcony to share

-Parking -WiFi- Laundry in Bldg--Included

Be small dog friendly

I'm in 40's Slim easygoing.

(I had to cut out a lot of this because it was about 3 pages long)


I am searching for the most Unique person (male or female, gay, bi or
straight) to share the most Unique living situation. Includes
utilities, and minimal Cable. It's in the heart of Echo Park, so this
is your chance to be a Nouveau Hipster!

- smoke (or be extremely OK with a smoker environment).
- be a night owl (or be totally cool and able to function with one in
the household).
- be very sexually enlightened and OK with my frequent sexing, or
sexual yourself in similar ways.
- be OK with the tight quarters involved and sometimes-discombobulated
living room.
- be OK with a cool Kitty in the mix.
- be financially stable (I don't believe in credit checks on roomies,
so not that); simply seeking someone who can afford it and isn't
constantly broke.

- a 40+ permanently-single gay guy; I sex a lot -- often here.
- I smoke cigs and love it. This is a smoking environment. I am a very
clean smoker.
- I drink copious amounts of beer, but am hardly ever inebriated (it's
the German blood). I am an occasional dabbler in 420, and that tends
to be it; I rarely, but once in a blue moon, will indulge in other
things; and I avoid Meth-heads like the Plague.


$850 * * * P R I V A T E * * * LOFT BDRM - avail D E C 21st / J A N U A R Y (Midtown East)

APARTMENT 23 is in need of a NEW addition to our apt........ YOU!!

Are you a good person?? Are you wanted by any law enforcement agencies?? Are you able to share your toys and play with others?? Do you believe in life on other planets?? Are you one of those RARE & SPECIAL individuals who have a hard time SEEING DIRT?? How many casual sex partners do you plan on having in your bedroom on a weekly basis?? Do you believe that you need to stockpile guns for a future uprising?
answers: 1. all depends on whose value system you're using?? 2. depends on what agency exactly 3. yes, I always share my toys INSIDE of others 4. which planet? 5. i LIVE for dirt 6. if i blindfold them and they don't know where we live, it shouldn't matter?? 7. i am NOT a republican and i don't live in florida!!


1 comment:

  1. WOW! What a post! How did I miss this for 9 months? How very enlightening (and hilarious). :D


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