I have many reasons to live alone. Mine are three-fold: 1. I require a higher level of cleanliness than most males my age. 2. Most heterosexual females do not want to live with heterosexual males, regardless of their level of cleanliness. They think we just come with problems. 3. I need my own space to write columns and pieces like this one. So, whatever your reason, here are some tips I’ve gleaned while building various bachelor pads around the city of Chicago.
1. Secure Building Entry is important, and it comes in several forms: a simple electronic buzzer system or a door man. When you read that I live in Chicago, you might immediately think ‘violence’, and that is indeed one major reason that secure building entry is important to me. However, the second is much more mundane: Package delivery. I have an Amazon Prime account, which makes it very easy to get whatever home-making need solved by a few clicks. However, if you rent a basement unit or a house or whatever else, your two-day delivery can quickly turn into a headache if the delivery guy does not have a place to leave a box.
2. “Utilities included” is a golden phrase. Your ears should perk up when you hear it in an apartment description. I just moved from an apartment that cost $850 per month to one that costs $1200 a month; that may seem like a huge jump, but when you factor in the $160 to $200 I was paying just for heating cost accrued during this terrible winter, the choice of a place that has heat included is not choice at all. Jump on it.
3. Avoid garden units like the plague: It might be okay to try and gain a foothold in a neighborhood you like by renting a basement apartment, but move away from these cave-like dwellings quickly. They are drafty, dingy, full of pests, and usually come with only the sparsest of amenities. Further, should you live in an area of the country that gets any significant amount of rain, you should know that flood damage is NOT covered by renter’s insurance. I learned this the hard way, and I do not want you to have to as well. Garden apartments are a stepping stone so try not to rely on them in any way.
4. When you get to your new neighborhood, find the one bar you like, become a regular, and rely on that establishment. When I lived in my old apartment, I had a pretty comfortable arrangement, and, while I am pretty okay living alone and keeping quiet, every once and a while I would find a reason to leave my unit. During hockey playoffs last year (Read: Chicago Blackhawks games), I started going to one specific bar for every. Single. Game. When the ‘Hawks fell an inch short of The Cup finals, I had become a regular at this one bar, so much so that they began to pass me free drinks, ignore the cost of the side of fries, and greet my guests like royalty. Already, in my new neighborhood, this dynamic has been established at burger/beer joint that has ties to the neighborhood I grew up in. The point is, the quicker you become a regular at a bar, the more quickly drinks start coming in for free, the quicker you feel comfortable.
5. It is absolutely okay to live out of the way to get the unit you want: I recently dated a girl who had moved to Chicago from Seattle. She lived in a posh neighborhood very close to the downtown area that is called ‘The Loop’, which is where all the business happens. When I finally got to see her apartment, I was amazed at the sacrifices she had to make to live in this ‘desirable’ area. She had almost no kitchen, no wall/door dividing her living quarters from her sleeping quarters, and, overall, her apartment lacked character.
This seemed absurd to me. I just moved into a unit that is a little bit further away from my friends and from my nightlife hangouts, but it is almost literally the apartment of my dreams. If this exact unit were placed in my previous neighborhood, I would be consistently ecstatic. The point of what I am saying is, living out of the way and being comfortable in your ‘nest’ is better than living right at the heart of activity and lacking counters, doors, or any kind of real things that make an apartment an apartment.
This is what I have learned pad-hopping in the big city. Do you have any tips?