Moving is an exhausting and stressful process, whether it is just for yourself or your entire family. Deciding on a location, understanding how to make it convenient for your livelihood, and simply finding a comfortable living space are factors that contribute to an ideal home.
However, keep in mind that your future apartment may not meet every single thing on your wish list. Just as in every relationship of life, there may have to be some compromises.
First things first: Separate your “needs” from your “wants.” Make a list of those things that are requirements for you, such as a specific number of bedrooms, proximity to a train station, hardwood floors, or a location for your vehicle.
The next step is to figure out what you would want to have in an apartment, which is better known as a wish list. These are things that you would simply enjoy having in a dream apartment. A list of preferences might have items such as carpeting, gas stove, top floor, or outdoor space. These are items you would be content and able to live without, but would prefer, in an ideal situation.
A good rule of thumb is to have a short list of required items and, if anything, a longer list of preferences. The more non-negotiable, required items you have on your list, the less of a pool you have to choose from within a local housing market. Once you begin thinking you “would never consider” an option, the doors begin to close. Opening up the choices allows you, as a future tenant, to be able to make a decision that is right for you, but also lets you to see the full spectrum of available options.
Whenever you begin to look for an apartment in a different area, especially Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, keep in mind what building styles are in those communities. Much of the construction will be older since the vast majority of buildings were built decades ago.
For example, there are two general styles of buildings in Oak Park. The 1920s vintage style is a personal favorite. These apartments are characterized by having hardwood floors and crown moldings, as well as formal living and dining rooms. The other type is a midcentury modern style, otherwise known as 1950-60s retro. These types of apartments have more of an open concept with the kitchen, living, and dining areas as well as an air-conditioning unit built into the wall and perhaps some carpeting. Be sure to consider the building construction when looking into renting, or even purchasing, an apartment.
Regardless of whether you end up with everything on your wish list, or you have to make some compromises on it, you will make your apartment your own home. Decorating with personal touches like picture frames, bookshelves, and intentional paint colors will certainly make apartment living geared towards your personal style and needs.
While you breathe a sigh of relief, feel comforted in the fact that most lease lengths are only one year anyway.
By Bri Julius, OPRHC Rental Housing Advisor