I had to find an apartment during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how I did it.
A coronavirus apartment hunt may sound like the last thing anyone would do right now, as the virus continues to spread and shelter in place rules have been extended.
The majority of states in the U.S. have told its residents to stay home and practice social distancing. As of this writing, there are about 750,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with roughly 70,000 recoveries.
Undoubtedly, coronavirus is hitting us hard, so the thought of moving in the near future felt impossible and overwhelming. I emailed my landlord, who said it would be OK to extend the lease. But because I had plenty of time to be inside, I decided to slowly start looking.
So, I started emailing apartments in prime areas in Oakland and realized that almost everyone got back to me. Competition for popular areas has gone down, and newer developments began slashing rent prices or even offering a month or two for free.
After searching for a few weeks, this is what I learned about my coronavirus apartment hunt and how to navigate this tricky landscape.
Note: With shelter-in-place in most states, it’s best to stay inside. This post is not encouraging you to move. Extend your lease or go month-to-month if you can. If you’ve lost your job and can’t pay rent, there are eviction moratoriums, depending on your state.
1. Virtual tours are a thing now
Many apartment leasing offices and landlords are adjusting to social distancing and offering virtual tours. On our partner site Apartment Guide, you can go on a virtual tour with a leasing agent or take advantage of extensive video and 3D tours.
You can then contact the property via email or phone. (Soon you’ll also be able to submit your application through the site as well.) The property will request you fill out a lease application, send the application fee and submit pay stubs. They may also ask you for your credit score and run a background check, which may be included in the application fee.
Pro tip: This is a great time to negotiate, so if you notice anything in the video that concerns you, bring it up in the follow-up conversation. For example, in the apartment I am moving into, the door to the bathroom was sticky, so I asked them to either replace the door or have it fixed.
2. Potential tenants may get to enter the unit without meeting an agent
Perhaps signing a lease on an apartment “sight-unseen” makes you uncomfortable. That’s perfectly understandable. If you’re interested in an apartment, ask if the building can leave the door unlocked.
Many places I looked at left a phone number for me to call, so I could be buzzed into the building without someone having to meet me.
3. Ask for discounts
Normally, I would never even consider asking for a discount on rent, especially for units that are in a prime location with tons of competition. However, uncertain times may mean people are willing to be more flexible, so I started asking if there were any deals they could offer me. I asked for a $150 discount on rent, and I got it.
I was also able to negotiate a temporarily reduced price on rent for the first two months.
In addition to asking for discounts on rent, you could ask if the landlord has any wiggle room for the following:
- Discount or deferment of the security deposit
- Waive or defer the application fee or pet fees
4. Reiterate the fact that you’re a stable tenant
It’s a good time to be braggy. Landlords are probably feeling the strain of filling empty apartments and want to know they’re renting to the right person, not the only person.
Give them peace of mind by showing them your strong credit score, your steady income and zero prior evictions.
5. Stagger your schedule with movers
This part might be tricky, because many moving businesses may be temporarily shut down due to coronavirus. Start by asking the landlord or management office if they know of any movers who are still operating.
At the time of writing, TaskRabbit, an online service with individual helpers and movers, is still open, however, they’re adhering to the social-distancing mandate.
Pack your valuable items ahead of time and leave the big stuff for the movers.
It may be challenging, but on moving day, you could pack your car ahead of time and head over to your new place before the movers, so you’re staggering the schedule and potentially lessening physical interaction.
Making the decision to move or stay put
Moving to a new place is stressful enough — throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and it just got that much more stressful.
If you’re not finding a lot of places offering virtual tours or keyless entries (without having to meet someone at the building), consider going month-to-month or asking your building or landlord if they can extend your lease.
Of course, the best-case scenario would be to stay put until the virus is better contained and shelter in place orders are lifted.
Remember to always stay six feet apart from others in public, wear a mask and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds when you return home.
Published at Tue, 21 Apr 2020 12:05:14 +0000
It’s more than just the mountains, but there are a lot of them, too.
If you’ve ever signed a lease in Denver, you know what it’s like to plant roots in the Mile High City. You understand the city’s appreciation for quality craft beer, you spend all your free time outside, you care about recycling and you root for the Broncos.
Don’t try to argue with someone from Colorado about these Denver facts
1. Denver isn’t necessarily bohemian or grungy, but its people have certainly embraced an outdoorsy, yoga-in-the-park culture.
2. It’s big on its breweries. Each year, the city hosts several beer festivals, plus Beer Week: the largest beer competition in the nation.
3. If you plan to ski on the weekends, expect to sit in traffic for at least two hours —and that’s before you even try to park at a ski resort.
4. Locals love their parks, and it’s not uncommon to see any given park in Denver littered with locals (and their dogs and bikes) on a Saturday or Sunday.
5. Speaking of parks and beer, to initiate as a local you must have a picnic in the park (and that picnic must include some beer).
6. The Mile High City is known for its transplant-friendly attitude — mostly because most locals are transplants themselves.
7. Most of Denver is pretty sheened up with high rises (oh, and Denver has some of the highest rent costs in the country, by the way).
8. Denver and Salt Lake are both mountain cities, but Denver has a hipper, more robust nightlife and downtown than Salt Lake.
9. Denver is no cow town. Between art districts and crystal shops, any remnant of the cowboy vibe (other than bearded bros with banjos) is now long gone.
10. To date successfully in Denver, you need to be outdoorsy and like beer, or be great at pretending you are.
11. Most dating apps in Denver are 90 percent composed of dudes that wear cargo shorts and flip flops who also work at a tech company
12. Those in the 702 keep up on current events and are usually glued to local news apps (and are also passionate about saving planet Earth).
13. Denverites love their Mexican food, and if you head West of the city, you’ll get the best of the best.
14. Denver’s health food scene isn’t quite as dedicated as LA’s, but locals into running, hiking and biking definitely appreciate eating green and clean.
15. Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana, and locals in Denver love their pot.
16. Denver’s population is primarily white working professionals in their 20s and 30s. It’s, uh, not the most diverse town.
17. The city isn’t sketchy. Denver has an especially low crime index for a city its size.
18. The mountains are to the West of Denver, and just about every local uses them to tell where they are at any given time. Instead of “Take a left at Main street,” it’s “head west once you hit Main Street.”
19. Denver’s public transit system is so-so, so if you want to really get around the city, you’ll need two sets of wheels.
20. Right next to drinking beer and taking your dog to a park, hitting up a farmer’s market is another favorite Denver pastime.
21. Denver has some of the most unpredictable weather in Colorado (Trust me on this one).
22. What Denver lacks in its food scene, it makes up for in its underground, grunge, you-heard-it-first-on-SoundCloud music scene.
23. It’s cool to ski or snowboard. Even if you fall on your butt, it’s worth it to post a cool Instagram and pretend to be a ski bum.
24. Between cliff divers and margaritas, it’s a tradition that every local goes to at least one birthday party at Casa Bonita.
25. It’s not uncommon to see drunk people cruising in the fast lane on Birds and Limes between brewery hops — so watch where you drive.
What’d we miss?
If you’re a Denver local, do you agree with our list? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section below!
Published at Tue, 21 Apr 2020 12:00:39 +0000