I arrived in Lethbridge on the 14th, planning to stay for a week to find a place to live before all the good ones were snatched up! As soon as I arrived, I begin the hunt, with the following in mind:
1) Please Please Please no basements!!!
2) Less than $1000
3) A bedroom far enough from the refrigerator that we don't have to listen to it all night while trying to sleep, and far enough that we don't have to unplug it to watch TV.
4) The Ideal Place: 2 or 3 bedrooms, a dishwasher, a decent kitchen, accessible laundry, in the main floor of a nice house. Trevor wants west side, but I have hardly any preference.
The stats: 2 bedrooms, $850/month including utilities and cable (utilities are rarely included).
A westside basement suite - oops. This ad did not say it was a basement, and it was - a very tiny one at that. No wonder utilities were included in the low price. This suite was just done by a professional contractor and was nice, but very, very tiny, had low ceilings and was only the basement of half a duplex with a noisy family upstairs. Definitely no.
The stats: 3 bedrooms, $1000/month + utilities.
A southside house with absolutely NO curb appeal. I have not seen a house that needed a TLC host to straighten them out more than this one. They spend a little bit on the inside and totally forgot about the outside. It was an extremely run down wood sided place, and the inside was obviously not done by a professional. It was awful. They chose a rough, dark blue/gray carpet for everywhere except the kitchen and half of the living room, which were large black and white checkers. The checkers could have worked if they had had an entire design to match - but they didn't - and making half the living room checkered to become a dining room was a huge mistake. The design was revolting, and was a big no from me in spite of the 3 bedrooms and full-size appliances. This was a character home upgraded all wrong.
The stats: 2 bedrooms, $925/month +utilities
Very attractive white split-level on the west side. Old cabinetry and wooden railings have been repainted white and give the home a nice, clean look. Two big bedrooms - master bedroom is the biggest I've seen so far, and the biggest I'll see in my entire hunt. Great kitchen - stainless steel fridge/flat top stove/microwave, dishwasher, mini deep freeze, barbecue. Big west facing windows and lots of closets with a little patio out back. Driveway for our car (hooray) and front and back yards. I know this one is a great deal as soon as I look at it. I spend a while talking to the owner, a married girl about my age, and her dad. The students living there now have the same picture as I do, and I commented on it since I suspected they are LDS. They are, and that really gets my foot in the door, but at $925, I know I'm going to have competition. I let them know I'm interested, and she says she'll email me with a sample of the rental agreement and some more specifics. They don't have a formal application, but I would have taken one...
The stats: 3 bedrooms, $900/month + utilities
Nice southside duplex. Split level - 3 bedrooms and bathroom downstairs, small living room, dining room, laundry/half bath, kitchen and patio upstairs. The dining room and kitchen were small and dark, and the upstairs half bath was awkward - it was a long room with the sink next to the door, and the toilet hidden on the other side of the washer and dryer - weird. Great location - right on the green strip next to Scenic Drive. The lady said she had received lots of applicants. Second best of the four I've seen so far by a long shot, and the 3 bedrooms is a big plus. I took an application.
The stats: 2 bedrooms, $1100/month + utilities
Pleasant west side condo. Out of our ideal price range, but since I'm looking for May 1st, it's a renter's market, and there's almost nothing to choose from that's not a basement for less than $1000, so I figure we could negotiate. I've got the time to take a look, after all.
Bedrooms are an okay size, kitchen is nice, and has a good size dining room. The living room has a really good layout, and I like the bedrooms being a floor up. The owner lived there for a few years and says the neighbors never bothered him, and the place only has neighbors on one side. I like this one better than the 3 bedroom southside duplex, so I take an application. This guy doesn't have many people coming to see it - probably because the price tag is over $1000.
The stats: 3 bedrooms, $1000/month + utilities
Very well decorated condo on the westside. Great paint job in every room - the kitchen is a really tasteful green color. Enough space for us and a little office! A close second next to the house, that's winning out because it's a house and has a much better kitchen and appliances. Once again, the three bedrooms is a big plus and would be really great. I would love love love to have an office for all our family files and our computer desk. I take an application for this one. And I'm pretty sure the owner is LDS.
The stats: 2 bedrooms, $950/month + utilities
This place was advertised as a condo, but turned out to be a third floor apartment. I almost didn't go up to see it, but decided to take a look. Definitely too small for a family, and the third floor of the building smelled smoky. In suite laundry and a wraparound-style kitchen was good, but overall just too small. Also, the girl who lives there now had the place in a big mess and had owned a dog, so the place would need some work to look good again, and while the landlords recognized it, who knows what they would have actually followed through with - we could have showed up on May 1st to a poor quality place after a lot of promises like the place we live now in Vancouver. Even putting that aside - still too small.
The stats: 3 bedrooms, $950/month + utilities
Nicely sized three bedrooms in a west side duplex. Small backyard and a nice exterior. The current tenants have jam-packed four kids and a LOT of stuff into the house. Rent includes the undeveloped basement, which would be nice for storage, but the kitchen is a tough sell for me. House still has original orange and brown curtains and really needs some updating. Worst part by far is the living room carpet - absolutely must be replaced ASAP and is possibly a major health hazard. So disgusting that I leave as quickly as possible. Besides, there was a family with young children there filling out an application - let them have it. They can have the toxic carpet and the pushy landlord if they like.
Which one would you choose? Post your comment below and tell me - and yes, I signed a lease yesterday! Make your guesses...