For the past six years, I have lived in 475 sq ft of studio apartment. The apartment’s small size–while the subject of many jokes–never really bothered me. In fact, I kind of liked that there was less to clean. Until recently.
Suddenly, I feel totally trapped in my apartment. I have no workspace, which means the vast majority of my blogging is done from the couch. (This does not exactly maximize productivity.) The apartment is north facing, and buried more than a half dozen stories down in the courtyard making it feel a bit cave like. And the location, right next to the elevator, has become a real problem since a group of 25+ year old children who like to party like college freshman moved in down the hall.
So I started looking for apartments…and let me tell you something…the D.C. rental market is out of control.
Why would I pay more than $2,000 for a 527 square foot apartment with no washer/dryer where I would be expected to buy my own window coverings because the last tenant took them with her? Why would I shell out $500 more than I’m paying now for 600 sq feet when the landlord couldn’t even be bothered to clean the thick layer of grey film off the bottom of the bathtub? And why would I want to rent an apartment that hasn’t been updated since Bush 41 was in office and has the white Formica cabinets and parquet flooring to prove it?
Yesterday, out of pure frustration, I asked an apartment broker how people afford these units esp. when what they’re getting isn’t awesome. Her response? “People looking to rent in this neighborhood typically have two people paying the rent. I usually only rent to couples.” Her tone was as sharp as a broken bottle.
And there it was, the “Hey, 30-year-old single girl, if you had a man to help you, this wouldn’t seem so expensive to you” assertion. Since this isn’t the first time I’d heard a realtor or broker make this insinuation, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Earlier this week, I went to look at a condo in Logan Circle represented by a realtor who was so old that she’d once kept a Brontosaurus as a pet. When I told her that my name would be the only one of the lease, she replied: “Oh, so you’re not married?”
“No, not married.”
“Do you live with your boyfriend?”
“No, no boyfriend.”
“If your parents will be helping with the payments, their names need to be on the lease as well.”
“No, if you look at the application I provided, I am more than capable of making the payments on my own.”
She picked up the application and thumbed to the back page, “How unusual.” Her tone was that of someone who’d just looked into a tank at the aquarium and seen a fish covered in spines and neon stripes. At that moment, I resolved to live in a van down by the river before I would earn her a dollar in commission.
The first two or three times this happened, I thought that it was all in my head. Until last night, when a friend accompanied me to a showing in Eastern Market. After the broker grilled me for five minutes about how there “weren’t a lot of single women” living in the neighborhood and how this was “more of a family environment,” I decided to take her card and “think about it overnight.”
As we walked out, my friend turned to me and said, “Is it me, or was she trying to convince you not to rent the unit?”
Seven apartments in four days, and four of the brokers have made me feel like apartment hunting while single and female is some kind of sin. I suppose it could be an age thing. Many of the realtors and brokers showing these units are my parent’s age or older. But there are a LOT of single women in D.C., so I don’t understand why they see me as such an aberration.
Have you ladies ever experienced a similar attitude while apartment hunting?