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Hey Loves! I’m Caitlyn the girl behind ChemGradBoom. A blog about taking life with a little salt, a slice of lime and shot of tequila or life of a graduate student, whichever version you prefer!

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Finding your perfect place in a new city

Moving to a new city and finding a place to live is well, to say the least extremely overwhelming... While I claim to have a love for 'adventure', having so many unknowns at one time just lead me to severely hate every moment of not knowing where we were going to live.

We arrived in Portland with 30 days in a corporate apartment to find our new place (thank you BFs fantastic company) but also ran into a few scheduled days where apartment shopping wasn't going to be possible. We had a weekend away planned to Seattle (epic fail of a weekend), followed by my trip to Boston for 4 days and of course the desire to find a place in time for us to have some overlap with the corporate apartment since we had NO FURNITURE.


Given all of this, we knew that we needed to get to apartment shopping ASAP along with figuring out what we wanted in our new place. Now that we have a place and feel somewhat settled, here are some tips for finding your new place, even if it's in a new city!

Make a list

The first thing to do when you're looking for a new place, even if it is in a city you are familiar with is to make your list of non-negotiables, or what your must-haves are for your new home. 
  • Budget 
  • Location
  • In-unit Washer and dryer
  • Spacious
And of course, the things that would be nice to have 
  • One bedroom (large studio / urban studio)
  • Patio / Outdoor Space
  • Apartment Complex amenities: Gym, common area. rooftop lounge

Ask for advice

Given that we were brand new to the city - we had no idea where live - what areas of town to 'avoid' or what areas of town would be ideal for what we wanted. We knew that we wanted to stay within 30 minutes of the BF's job - walking or biking. We also knew that while there were some areas within this distance but after chatting with the people at his work we were told to avoid these areas. This ended up being a significant help because the BF was set on an apartment that we looked at in the area we were told to avoid, even though everything seemed ok at the time we were there. 

Search multiple places online 

We used a mixture of Zillow, Apartments.com and craigslist while looking for a home. In the end, the apartment we picked was one that I had seen a posting for on Craigslist. We were told by a few apartment complexes that Craigslist is the easiest to update and that at times it can take awhile for updates on apartments to go through on Zillow. Then of course if we did think there was a place that we liked on any of the websites, we would 

Really explore the area 

Being new to the city we wanted to make sure that we decided to live in would be a place that we would be able to explore and be happy in. While we usually would apartment shop during the day if there were a place that was "in the running" we would head back later in the day to check it out. Were there places to eat? Grocery Shop? A Gym nearby? All of these things helped us to figure out if the location of a place would work for us.   

Learn to compromise 

On somethings but probably not your budget! While amazing apartments and views may be 'feasible' at the moment - I find that it is crucial to never break your budget - because having more money to have fun is well worth it, but having an over-priced apartment with no money for fun is just depressing. 

At first, we were told that we should be able to find a one bedroom apartment with a rooftop patio, fitness room, in-unit W/D, in the area we wanted on the lower end of our budget. This was on the second day of us being in the city (and before we started our search) so we were really excited about all of this. Turns out the person who told of all this (while absolutely lovely) must have also been clueless. 

During apartment shopping, we viewed a range of studios, urban studios and one bedroom all around the city. We found a one-bedroom, in our budget, spacious with a massive patio but was in an area that we would have probably hated. We also viewed an urban studio, at the higher end of our budget, in a fantastic location and building but after looking seemed that we would be paying close to $300 more for this one when the same unit on a higher floor available 3 weeks later. 

When you find the place?!?

You should feel like you could live there and call it home. If anything a home for a year - hopefully longer because no one should like moving that often. Also while we had the list of non-negotiables in the end somethings will change. Once you find a place no matter what you said were your non-negotiables may be a bit different than what you planned on. 

Finally, we landed on a studio, on the ground floor, which meant we have an amazing patio - but the building doesn't have a rooftop or gym. In the end, the apartment is spacious, has the in-unit W/D and happens to be one street over from an amazing street filled with restaurants, shops and pubs! 

What are some of your non-negotiables in an apartment? Or tips for finding a new place in a new city?!?

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