(Spoiler alert: your apartment will not look like Monica and Rachel’s.)
What’s worse: being single or being homeless? Let me rephrase. Which is harder: trying to find a compatible boyfriend or searching for a suitable apartment? I’m doing both right now, and I have to say it: trying to find the right apartment is even worse than trying to find the right guy.
Whatever online apartment hunting service you’re using, be it Craigslist, RentHop, or StreetEasy, and whichever online dating app you’re perusing, such as Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder, or Hinge, there are certain expectations you’ll have, specific stereotypes you’ll run into, and at least one moment when you’ll want to give up. But, in both the online apartment hunting and online dating worlds, I’ve seen it work; so I’m still out there, swimming through the sea, looking for my fish, and trying to avoid getting bitten by a shark. And while I’ve been navigating the waters of apartment hunting and online dating, I’ve noticed some striking similarities between the two. Grab a snorkel and dive in.
- What is up with a complete lack of photos? It’s baffling on online dating apps: you expect me to talk to you when the only “picture” I can see is the amorphous head Facebook gives you when you don’t have a profile photo? It’s just as puzzling to me when apartment websites don’t include any photos. I’m not going to waste my time on a place that could be hiding a mere half-fridge or doesn’t have windows in the living room. Give us something to look at, people/places!
- Even worse are the misleading photos. Almost every online date I’ve met in person looks at least a little different than their photos, but that’s to be expected; I choose the most photogenic representations of myself, too. But some are more deceiving than others. I would have sworn you were a light-haired brunette, and you turn out to be a strawberry-blonde. You looked at least 6 foot, yet you barely top my 5’5” (in heels). Apartment dimensions in photos? Forget about it. Rooms appear spacious and light, but in reality are cramped and dim. I’ve wasted my time trekking to some corner of Manhattan to see one man/room, and it turned out to be something completely different.
- You go into these situations with limited knowledge. He likes soccer, beer, and playing the guitar. There will be cherry cabinets, great sun, and a gut renovated kitchen. You check it out in person. More often than not, playing the guitar = knows the chords for Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day; gut renovated kitchen = the “cherry” cabinets have new knobs. And FYI, “cozy” always means tiny.
- So, you’re doing it. You’ve decided to meet the dude IRL. You’ve decided to go see the apartment in person. Now what? You make small talk. You try to poke around without being too obvious about it. You look it over, bottom to top. You consider: could there be bed bugs? (Each of those things applies to both online dating and online apartment hunting.)
- Because there’s always something else, something hidden. An ex-girlfriend he still talks to every day. A hidden broker’s fee ready to clean out your bank account. Maybe you’re lucky and the damages aren’t deal breakers. He occasionally talks in his sleep. The shower squeals when the hot water is on. If you haven’t found the problem yet, enjoy it while it lasts. But the time will come. It could be eight months before you discover he actually doesn’t like dogs, or you see a cockroach in the kitchen. I’ll try not to say I told you so.
- Couldn’t the next swipe, the next ad, bring the partner/apartment of your dreams? Theoretically, yes. So how do you know when to stop? How do you know when to make it official, when to sign the lease? I haven’t done either yet, so I can’t tell you. But when I do, I’ll happily deactivate my myriad profiles and change my student loan billing address. Until the next break up/move out, when I’ll start all over again.
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About Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB): CMB is a free dating service that helps members make meaningful connections. It’s designed for busy singles who want to find something real with little or no effort.