I know what you’re probably thinking: Who just signs the lease to an apartment without even seeing it in-person first? Well, the short answer is: My fiancé and I did it. The coronavirus pandemic has made it very difficult for individuals with expiring leases (including us) to find somewhere new to live. Due to social distancing regulations and stay at home orders, a majority of apartments and rentals in our area were not even offering tours.
So what do you do when you have a deadline but the pandemic is making it difficult to find a place? Here’s how it went for us.
My fiancé and I did not have much time before we got married. One option would have been to buy a place (which also has its challenges right now). But because we’re young and don’t have established credit scores, we had no choice but to start off renting. I started my search on an apartment website – saving all my favorite properties and sending messages to dozens of places. Some responded quickly, some took a few days, and some never replied at all.
The overwhelming answer I got from each one that responded was, “Due to the stay at home orders and COVID-19, we are currently only offering virtual tours.” If you don’t know, a virtual tour is a video walkthrough of the apartment or a 3D interactive tour where you can click around to different spots in the apartment. Both of these tools are helpful when narrowing down your apartment search. It seems crazy to sign a lease without seeing a place in person first.
So we decided to “tour” the few places that we could, and every single one had something that just wasn’t right about it. Either the neighborhood was unsafe, the commute was too far, or the floor plan was just too small.
We ended up zeroing in on an apartment complex that one of our friends had previously lived in. This apartment is in a good location relative to our jobs, our church, and our friends and family. Moreover, even though we hadn’t seen this exact apartment, we were able to lean on what we’d seen when visiting this friend in the past.
If you are in a similar situation right now, see if there are any apartment buildings you’d seen in person previously, which could aid your search.
So in the end, we applied, paid our application fee, signed a renters agreement and a lease, and picked up the keys all before we had seen what would become our home for at least the next year. I met my fiancé there on my lunch break one day and braced myself to see what we had gotten ourselves into. Ultimately, we were so blessed – I walked in and loved it right away. The floors, paint color, and cabinets were all beautiful. The layout was more spacious than I expected given the square footage. There was a good amount of storage and room for the furniture that we wanted to bring. The living area had tall windows on every wall that let in a lot of light. It’s on the first floor too, so no stairs.
We definitely made the right decision. The reward, in this case, was well worth the risk. It’s definitely not something that everyone would do, but if you are currently apartment hunting, it’s just the reality. And don’t worry, you will eventually find the right place even if the search seems endless. Just keep looking, and one day, you’ll be holding the key to your new home.
Featured image via Pexels