On Monday, I drove to Richmond, Virginia to find an apartment.
About a week before, anxious about what I’d find and how to find it, it occurred to me that for the same rent I currently pay in Philly, I could afford a luxury high-rise in Richmond. So prior to leaving, I arranged an appointment at a building with great floorplans and amenities, plus lots of positive tenant reviews. That was my first stop in Richmond, and I was so sure I’d love it that I imagined I’d be driving back the next day, lease in hand. Alas, the apartments were just ok and the area wasn’t that great so I got back in the car, once again full of anxiety about what the next few days would bring.
Next stop was the AirBnB I reserved, which ended up being in a fantastic location (the area I would ultimately want to live: Carytown/The Fan) and my host, Fiona, turned out to be a gem, full of great advice. The funny story with that though, was when I drove up to her house the first time, there was an elderly black man on the porch who couldn’t speak (literally unable to form words) but who seemed bright, just extremely odd. Fiona was picking up her kid so the door was locked though she said she’d leave it open for me. So I’m standing there saying pleasantries to this man who’s grunting back, wondering if I’ve gotten the address mangled or what. Turns out he’s some neighborhood guy that just sits on her porch every day. I don’t know if he sits on other folks’ porches, too, but he certainly does like Fiona’s.
That night, I had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed a neighborhood walk with my new friend, Emily, who lives in this same area. That was so great because she’s also a runner and had so much valuable info to share but also, I just really like her! I’ve reserved a place on her porch for wine guzzling after I’m permanently installed.
The next few days of apartment hunting were a serious emotional roller-coaster, made worse by the fact that I’m self-employed so my 1040 looks atrocious (such is life when you deduct large portions of your rent and utilites for a home office). Because I knew that’d be a problem, I brought 3 months of bank statements, figuring that those, along with a fabulous rental history and excellent credit score, would suffice. But some companies require 1040s, no exceptions.
On top of that, there’s not a lot of inventory here for nice 1 bedrooms, probably helped by students already grabbing those up. If I was wanting a cheap apartment around $700, there are a good number of those (albeit small and dingy), but thanks to my business blossoming so beautifully, I could get something much nicer and larger…if only there were more to choose from though! One girl I met at an apartment showing said she’d seen 23 apartments in the last month, which didn’t cheer me up any. Several times I resigned myself to the fact I might have to suffer another Philly winter – a miserable prospect because I’m so over that place.
But hey, today I got an apartment. A GREAT apartment. On a gorgeous quiet block, 3rd/top floor so no footsteps above me, washer/dryer in the unit, an extra room perfect for my office, renovated kitchen and bathroom and the thing I wanted most…a balcony to watch the world go by. It even has a free reserved parking space so if I do get a car, that’s another bonus. And it’s cheaper than my tiny Philly apartment!
So that’s it, I’m moving to Richmond mid-August! I’m already counting down the days, so excited to begin my new life.
As for my perception of Richmond, I just love it. People are so friendly and laid back, they say Hi and smile as they pass and I love hearing the accents, it’s a subtle yet distinct lilt. The way I see it (or feel it) is that Philadelphia is a city of hard edges, whereas Richmond is a feather on your cheek. So soft, so sweet. I cannot wait to call it home.