Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When is somebody going to design the perfect (affordable!) apartment?

My husband and I have to move our family. It's not on a whim, its a financial necessity. The duplex we live in is costing us an unbelievable amount to heat in winter and since its my last year of full-time school, we just have to cut back.

So for the last 3 weeks, we've been searching high and low for a place to live. And let me tell you, the current economy has completely changed the rental landscape. Two years ago, when we moved in here, we had shoddy credit but still had our pick of 3 wonderful duplexes. Now, anything in the lower price ranges in a two bedroom place are renting before we can even get an appointment to see them. Then when we DO see them, we're suddenly getting turned down for credit... despite having an impeccable rental history and references from our landlords. This was never a problem before. Then add in the current economy where everyone (including our family!) is trying to cut back and there is a glut of people trying to find a low-cost place to live. All the people who would normally have been creating vacancies by purchasing homes are gone, so fewer rentals are coming into the market, and those that do are: a) Being very picky about who they rent to and getting snapped up quickly OR b) a really sad place or in a bad neighborhood. We've never quite seen anything like it!

So it made me wonder... I think most people are looking for the same ammenities in a home/apartment. But yet, new construction apartments (at least in my area) are just not planning for these. In my mind, most people want the same things I look for: Safe location, good sized rooms with decent layout, modern conveiniences like a washer and dryer in unit, dishwasher, and parking for two cars. Then there are some practical requirements - enough counterspace in the kitchen to actually cook anything and enough cabinets to store food and dishes. A hard floored dining room - because with little kids, a carpeted eating area is just a disaster to keep clean. A storage area that is big enough to actually store seasonal items like bikes. You'd be amazed at how few places actually have these things.

Is it possible to design an AFFORDABLE family-friendly apartment building with all the conveniences? After this search, I sure wish I could build some real-estate! What about you, dear readers? When renting (now or past) what were you looking for in a home?