Renting in Richmond

photo(11)Besides taking an emotional toll, breakups for couples who live together is cause for a chain of events. I’m two months through my own and I’m still trying finding it impossible to get my shit together. Together, my ex and I created a home so naturally, we purchased furniture, renovated both bathrooms, and got two dogs.

Deciding who gets that gorgeous knife set her parents got us, how we share the dogs, and the ultimate … my move out has rocked our worlds.

During our split, I’ve been searching for my perfect, bright Fan apartment. And I was still searching until this afternoon.

Navigating the Richmond rental market is a call for the strong and brave. From the places I saw and the landlords I’ve encountered, this has been comical … and a little depressing.

My search began with a dump of a place off Monument Avenue in a older multi-complex building, which shall remain nameless. For $650, I could have gotten a 360 degree touch-every-appliance-kitchen, 1 2 foot closet, and a rank-smelling lobby. I passed. I called my best friend on the way home in tears.

Initially, I only wanted to be in the Fan and wanted to live by myself. The people, history, and atmosphere topped my list but I was still open to other areas. The next two places were off Park Avenue, one of my favorite streets. However, neither was a fit, one was more than the advertised price and the other felt just … creepy. Windowless bedrooms seem to be a trend and I just can’t wrap my head around waking up in the dark each morning.

After seeing a handful of places, none being a fit, I knew my place would be hard to find so I decided to sublet an apartment off Grace Street for a couple of months so I could make a less-rushed decision.

I call this my “launch pad”.

My sublet is wonderful and everything I was looking for – historic and big but the landlords are another story plus, it’s not pet friendly. In my one encounter with them, I felt like a 29 year old single loser. After explaining to the lady landlord that I was separating from my partner, she immediately asked questions about him owning our house – “is he going to buy you out”? I didn’t feel the need to correct her (did I mention she’s Russian) especially after she learned my age and told me “my daughter, your same age and she FINALLY get married”.

Thanks. A lot.

Going back to my home search, I decided something needed to change so I branched my home search to Churchill, Downtown, and Shockoe Bottom. There, I looked at 4 places  – half of them went to other prospective renters moments after I toured and the others were a little sketch.

Every day, I scoured Craigslist, Hot Pads, and Padmapper. I was becoming a little frantic.

Some might say rental hunting is silly since you’re a renter. For me, it’s a new chapter. It’s a place for me to live while I hit my restart button so I take it pretty serious.

Today, I toured a newly built warehouse-turned-apartments in Shockoe Bottom. I looked at a few units – one in particular had skylights, concrete floors, a swanky kitchen and was sold. I don’t know if I fell in love with it or if my search was exhausted.

I’m excited to finally know I have a place for my next chapter. Although it’s super expensive, I’d rather pinch pennies than deal with a judgmental landlord, share a space with a stranger, or suffer old house disasters.

So my next phase will begin June 1. It’ll be bittersweet and full of new change.   And, if it doesn’t work out, if I choose that it’s not for me, I can move.  Lucky thing for a renter vs. a home owner is you can always change your environment.

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