Searching for a pad in Miami is equal parts exciting and terrifying. The prospect of starting fresh in some new digs sounds amazing, but scouring the internet or hitting the streets for an apartment that fits not only your budget but also you is like finding a needle in a haystack.
The process of looking for a place breaks you. You run the gamut of emotions in the span of just a few weeks. It's so bad that we've narrowed down the five all-too-real emotions one goes through when looking for a new apartment — particularly in the Magic City.
You've been planning for this moment for months, and now it's finally here. Time to hit the streets and find your new place. Just imagining all the possibilities is making your head spin. What if you find a condo on the beach? What if Craigslist is so oversaturated with people looking for renters that you get the first month free? What if there is room for that pool table you always wanted? What if your neighbor is one of those superhot LIV bottle waitresses you've seen only in a Miami New Times slide show.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. This is the first step to a brand-new you. You put on your sunglasses, get into your car, and head out on a hunt to find a place where Future You will one day raise a family.
You've made a terrible mistake. You've completely underestimated the market, and it turns out everyone isn't falling all over themselves to give you the hookup on a dope place. A closer look reveals that all the Craigslist ads with apartments in your budget lead back to the same phone number for a guy named Javi who seems to treat real estate as his side job. Javi appears to be a nice guy, but he also seems like the sort of guy who just printed out his own business cards and really wants you to take one.
Every time you get into your car to scope out spots, the suddenly dark sky opens up and unleashes iPhone-size raindrops on your day. You're at the point where you're considering not only begging back into place you're currently staying, but also selling all of your crap and moving back in with your mom. You calculate how much money you would save annually if you lived off-the-grid and slept in your car.
It's time to change the rules of the game. You probably don't need those vaulted ceilings. Being near the beach would be nice, but, hey, the beach is never too far anyway when you live in South Florida. Lowering your original expectations has now found you a place in Miami Gardens that is solid, totally practical, and firmly within your budget. You end the tour thinking, This is it. You sit down in the managers office and start signing the papers. Everything seems great until you hit the "credit score" section. Aw, crap. You haven't made a student loan payment on time since the original Clinton administration.
You frantically try to talk the manager out of needing a credit check. You explain you've never been late with your rent and would happily put down triple the deposit. Suddenly, your safety-school apartment is ready to pull its acceptance.
That's it. You're pissed. The Optimism phase seems years in the rear-view mirror. You can't even believe at one point you looked forward to hunting for an apartment in this muggy heat. The deal at the last place fell through because of poor credit decisions you made the day after a keg party in 2001. At this point, you'd settle for someplace with new paint and outdoor lighting. You decide to move on — because, really, do you have any other choice?
You're now that person who picks up the Apartment Finder guide at Publix. You start jotting down addresses and phone numbers. Of course, most of the apartment complexes leave the pricing off, so you have no idea what you're in for. You begin to make calls and quickly learn that none of the ones with nice-looking pictures is in the conversation. The places that fit your budget are mostly in Miami Shores and have one online photo, and it's of the pool, which is never a good sign. That's the go-to oldest trick in the crappy-apartment-complex book. You take a left when you should be taking a right, and instead of looking at another worthless, rundown apartment, you head to World of Beer in Kendall.
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After a few weeks of eating humble pie, you finally come to terms with the fact that you won't find an apartment in South Beach with a rooftop hot tub for anything less than $4,500 a month. Because you can afford to spend roughly one-fourth of that, you accept your realistic options and dive into picking the lesser of evils. You find a place that's just fine, but definitely not a long-term option. You're comforted by the fact that although this might not be the step up in residences you were looking for, it's definitely an improvement over your last place.
Everything looks clean, and the place smells new. The manager at the apartment complex seems nice enough. A police car is parked in one of the spots outside your building, so that makes you feel better. Everything will be fine — it's time to come back down to Earth and realize you're not the Wolf of Wall Street. And, hey, at the end of the day, you still live where other people vacation. Your phone number still has a 305 area code. The beach is still a two-dollar gas ride away. You're pretty lucky.