Actually Being Urban Part 1- Apartment Finding

I’ve been fortunate in the past three weeks to obtain full time employment. What that means is that I finally get to put into practice a lot of the things I preach on this blog and retweet out to others on the social sites. You will also notice a few minor site changes(better tags, better pictures) and hopefully more real stories of what it’s like to live a more urban lifestyle in a suburbanesque locale. In this post I will discuss my apartment search.

Let’s start simple. The top five things I want in an apartment are as follows:

1.    Doors to private areas
2.    Balcony
3.    Second floor
4.    Closet space
5.    Low energy bills

That would be inside the apartment. On the exterior, these are my top five:

1.    Proximity to places I need to go on a daily basis
2.    Fitness Center
3.    Bike facilities
4.    Camaraderie of neighbors and management staff
5.    Proximity to fun activities, walking distance preferred, no more than 3 mile drive away from fun stuff unless it’s truly spectacular(other cities, cultural events, opportunities to speak and network with others)

Going into this, I knew the best option for my wishlist was downtown in a new development called CityView. I’d visited the apartments before, but considering a roommate. Now, I was visiting for myself only and I wanted to make sure things were still cool. Also, I’d heard that there were solid concrete floors in the apartments. I was not a fan of this idea and I needed to investigate that problem as well.

Side rant: If you are putting a feature in just to be “urban” and it’s not practical. STOP. You look stupid and even I as an urbanist don’t buy it.

Yet, in touring the “studio”, I was told that there is carpet in the bedrooms and some laminate wood in the living room on the second and third floors. There are also doors to the bedroom. Two in fact. I was sold.

Or so I thought. I got home and I thought about how dark the place seemed. When I lived in Durham, I had light surrounding my place. Even in my childhood bedroom, and throughout my mom’s house there is abundant light. I needed to look at a couple of other places. I am adding light to both of my lists above.

I won’t name the other three complexes, but it’s not because they are evil. They are in great locations(two are walking distance to a lot of big box and even some college style retail, the other is a little closer to what will be my office downtown). Their staff was super nice and didn’t look at me like I had horns when I wanted to tour their complexes. I learned valuable information from all three on general apartment maintenance and money-saving tips.

It was a 15 minute walk on a stressful day that helped me make my decision. From the time I ran track as a high school student, to migrating across campus for a student government meeting or a movie at the campus cinema (or class, I did a lot of that, but they were closer to my dorm), I found solace in walking or running. I knew that if I chose CityView, it would make no sense for me to drive most days of the week to work. I tend to play downtown as well and all of my playhouses would be on the way to my house. I would be able to blow off pressure from work. I could squeeze in a midday walk home. If I wanted to cut time, I could get my bike back and actually ride it this time.

Then the staff was really, really nice, offering discounts and an opportunity to waitlist until the perfect unit (one that actually does face the city, as some don’t) came available. I kept finding out acquaintances of mine that I think highly of would be neighbors. I toured the sample apartment again and someone was just moving in. I saw that all my furniture (which is very few pieces) would fit and that light would in fact come into the apartment, if it weren’t for facing another one of the buildings in the complex. All the pieces of my vision were coming together. (Including the closet space. One closet is just shelves, the other is hangers. If you know me well, you know that this is the perfect balance).

So in July, I will officially be standing in my front yard, as I am in the picture above. I will be a true urban dweller. And this idea of being a black urbanist will no longer be a total illusion. Plus, I get to tell more stories of what it’s like to live, work and play in the CBD of a smaller, more suburban city.

Photo credit above by the lovely Stephanie Eaton. Please check out her work. If you are in the Greensboro area, she would love to make you look as good as she has me. Also, don’t forget Twitter and Facebook where I keep the peeps informed.