How Apartment Hunting Is Different From Shoes Shopping

I mean, they both involve FEET, right? (Tip your servers, I’ll be here all week.)

What becomes immediately obvious, when you start apartment hunting, is that there are no apartments.

I’ve spent the past few days calling and emailing a gob of Portland-area apartments, trying to find out if there are any vacancies for July 1, or August 1, or really any time this summer. I’m flexible. I have a month-to-month lease. I can move whenever, as long as there’s an apartment for me to move into.

Wait, you might be thinking. Portland?

It makes sense, for so many reasons. Technically it makes sense for three reasons.

First, I can get a one-bedroom apartment in the $750–850 range (which I won’t be able to do in Seattle), and I can even get a nice one-bedroom apartment in a building with a fitness center and a pool if I live in the suburbs. (If that’s what it takes to get a decent apartment, sign me up for some suburban living. I’ll even learn how to drive again.)

Second, I have a lot of friends there. Why not move to where a big chunk of my friends live? If I’m going to move out of Seattle, moving to Portland seems like the most logical choice.

Third, my friends The Doubleclicks recently made this music video:

And I tell you what, I have been thinking about that whole “there is more to life than work” thing ever since Stan lobbed it at Peggy during the Mad Men finale, and right now there is very little in my life besides work, and maybe Portland is the answer to that.

So I started this apartment hunt with a long list of affordable apartments curated from my own Googlings and suggestions from friends, and had this weird emotional response to the idea of getting to choose a home for myself. I could try on all of these apartments for size until I found the right one. I could explore neighborhoods. I could make a choice based on what I wanted most, instead of what was available.

But apartment hunting is not shoe shopping. You don’t get to go down the row and try everything on and then choose what fits. You get to call, and email, and learn that nothing is available (except an $840 studio apartment that measures 225 square feet, which, um, nope) and then you get put on half-a-dozen wait lists, and you wonder if the wait list system is just how it works in Portland, and if you’re going to have to wait until everyone else on the list finds an apartment before it’s your turn.

And then you start thinking “it’s going to be the same thing over again, isn’t it; you’re going to get one option and there’s going to be something terribly wrong with it, like it’s a Los Angeles roommate situation where you sleep on the floor, or a Seattle studio with no kitchen, or maybe an $840 studio apartment that measures 225 square feet, and you’re going to have to decide what you can live with instead of how you want to live.”

Luckily, I don’t have to make that decision today.

Because there aren’t any apartments available.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.