[NFBWATlk] Looking for some Advice on Apartment- or Studio-Living

Judy Jones sonshines59 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 11 04:47:35 UTC 2019

Neil and Debbie live in Pullaup, close by.


“Embrace each day with His mercies and blessings.”

-----Original Message-----
From: NFBWATlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Kristina Colcock via NFBWATlk
Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 1:57 PM
To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List
Cc: Kristina Colcock
Subject: Re: [NFBWATlk] Looking for some Advice on Apartment- or Studio-Living


I am goinig to try and hook you up with a couple of our members at
large  chapter members who lie in Tacoma I believe. I PROMISE to get
back to you soon! :)


On 12/10/19, Cynthia Bennett via NFBWATlk <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Hi Humberto,
> I cannot express how excited I am for you! finding your first job after
> school and/or training is so difficult. It took me several months. I am so
> proud of you! How lucky your students will be to have a blind instructor who
> is a braille and technology superstar as well.
> Here is my apartment advice. I have found 3 apartments in the Seattle market
> which is quite unforgiving so I think these tips will be helpful.
> Before you look for apartments, divide your monthly income into thirds. This
> is the maximum rent you can probably pay without getting someone to cosign
> your lease. Of course, if you can find something with cheaper rent, that is
> best, but this will help you knock out any too expensive options. If you
> would rather rent something mor expensive or if your income is not enough,
> as many of us in Seattle have gone through, you'll have to think of someone
> you trust who may be willing to be your cosigner. It is good to have a
> conversation with them ahead of time and get their agreement. Many people
> ask family members though I realize this is not always an option. Your
> cosigner will need to have sufficient income, in other words, the rent
> cannot exceed 1/3 of their monthly income. If I were you, I would prioritize
> finding a place that does not require a cosigner. But if you do not have
> enough credit, your income may not matter and you may need to find a
> cosigner. Of course, if you have a cosigner, the goal is that you pay rent,
> but they are responsible for your rent if you do not pay.
> Have at least the amount of your monthly income, or 3 times your rent set
> aside. Worst case scenario, you'll owe first month's rent, last month's
> rent, and an expensive deposit equal to one month's rent. Application and
> credit check fee tends to be around $45. You should also keep in mind that
> moving itself incurs costs.
> Learn your credit score. I recommend downloading an app called Credit Karma.
> The internet tells me most landlords want to see a 620 credit score or
> higher. Checking your credit score will give you another clue as to whether
> you'll need a cosigner.
> Get a copy of your signed offer letter listing your annual income. You may
> have to provide this as proof to your landlord.
> Start thinking about where you'd like to move. Though some markets
> necessitate a realtor, I don't think the Seattle and suburb market is quite
> there. I have never used a realtor. I have however talked to blind people I
> trust. I have a contact number for a person who has lived in Tacoma which I
> will give you offline. I would learn the names of neighborhoods with public
> transportation to places you would like to go. This may also require that
> you request the person who hired you to get you a school placement as soon
> as possible, or to get a list of possible placements. I generally want to be
> in one bus distance from work and in walking distance from grocery stores, a
> pharmacy, and restaurants. You may have different priorities and some things
> may be more negotiable for you than others. For example, it's not important
> for me to be in walking distance from my doctor, but others may feel
> differently. take some time and reflect on your priorities and then ask
> questions to the people who live in Tacoma or the places you're considering
> living in and determine a few neighborhoods in which you'd like to live.
> Check Craigslist once per day and make inquiries at all places that look
> interesting. I usually do a google search for something like "Belltown
> Seattle apartments rent Craigslist." The first word, Belltown, is the
> neighborhood within Seattle. Then I use the filters once I have clicked on
> the google search result that takes me to the page on craigslist. I enter my
> maximum rent, minimum bedrooms and bathrooms, and check the amenities that
> are nonnegotiable for me. For example, I only want an apartment with laundry
> in unit and then I sort the results so those most recently posted are at the
> top. Be very careful though. Listings like to associate with popular
> neighborhoods. Read the listing very carefully to learn more about the
> location and apartment to determine whether you'd like to schedule a tour.
> There are a ton of apartment search websites. I find Craigslist has a lot of
> options and is not extremely inaccessible as compared to others. Run
> addresses in posts by your contacts who are familiar with the area, or
> perhaps develop a few anchors when you talk to these contacts. For example,
> I recently found an apartment in Pittsburgh. Once I learned there was a
> Whole Foods in a neighborhood I decided I could live in, Whole Foods became
> an anchor. If the listing gave an address, I put it into Google Maps and
> read the walking distance to Whole Foods. If there is not an address written
> in the apartment listing, but there is the name of a building, google the
> building name and you may find an address there. When you reach out to
> schedule tours, google the building if you can and read the reviews.
> Sometimes, you may not find reviews of the building itself but a larger
> management company. Though online reviews should be read with scrutiny, in
> other words, people often leave really bad reviews but they don't leave
> really good reviews, and honestly all rental companies are pretty crappy,
> red flag any really, really bad reviews and knock those places out .
> Contact all listings that interest you. a smaller number, like literally
> maybe 50% or less,  will get back with you. sometimes you can contact a
> phone number, others, an email address, and even others have online
> appointment widgets. In these inquiries I have not disclosed blindness. If
> the appointment widget is not accessible, try to find an alternative way to
> get in touch like by calling directly and pretend you didn't know about the
> online appointment calendar if you are asked. In my experience, agents are
> usually happy to schedule an appointment over the phone even if they have an
> online appointment selector.
> If you can, keep a flexible schedule so when you are called or emailed back
> after you inquire, you can go to the soonest appointment possible. in les
> ridiculous markets like those outside Seattle this may not be as important,
> but I would still try to do this just to be safe. When corresponding to make
> the appointment, verify the apartment has the amenities the listing says it
> has. Sometimes listings are misleading. Other times, an agent is renting
> multiple units and the one in the listing is not the one they will show you.
> this will help you confirm whether you actually want to make the
> appointment. I usually begin emails with, I'm corresponding about x
> apartment, including several details from the listing, the address and unit
> number if that is disclosed.
> When you go to an appointment, try to get a direct phone number to someone
> or be prepared to ask a passerby or Aira agent to confirm you're in the
> right place. If I'm given a phone number to someone directly, when Google
> Maps says I am very close to the destination, I call and at that point
> disclose my blindness and ask them to look out for me. If they will not give
> you a direct phone number and instead ask you to dial something on a
> callbox, you may have to ask a passerby to confirm you're at the building or
> wing it.
> Take someone to appointments if you can or do a video call. This isn't about
> blindness as much as it is people rent really crap apartments and it is
> important to get a second opinion.
> Be sure to ask things like whether the apartment has been updated, what
> noises you'll expect to hear, what the person can tell you about the
> surrounding area in terms of bus stops and businesses, what the terms of the
> lease are including what is due with your application such as the
> application fee, deposit, and other fees, how much of your deposit is
> refundable, and how much the rent is, what bills are included in rent and
> what are your responsibility to pay separately, how much water and utilities
> tend to amount to if you do have to pay for them separately,  and whether
> you'll have to pay the last month up front. Ask lots of questions about the
> apartment as you walk through to seem engaged and serious about getting
> honest feedback. Ask to be toured around the common areas, especially the
> laundry room if laundry is not in unit. Touch the washers and dryers. Some
> are quite inaccessible. No apartment will be perfectly accessible but
> getting really hands-on in the apartment will help you decide what
> appliances you can make accessible, what inaccessible features you'll put up
> with and which ones are dealbreakers. Ask if anyone else is applying and if
> not, and if you are interested, be prepared to apply for the apartment that
> day.
> Most apartment applications are now done online, or sent as an inaccessible
> pdf over email. The process will be at least partially inaccessible but
> because you don't want to spend a lot of time on this ask a friend to be on
> the hook to help you.
> I love studio living. It is a great way to start out a bit cheaper. If you
> do not have the responsibility to care for others or host people often, I
> highly recommend. The more space you have, the more you'll fill it up so I
> honestly believe studio living has not only saved me rent but has saved me
> from buying more furniture and accessories.
> If you need a cosigner right now or have other extenuating circumstances,
> priorities tours with individuals rather than companies. I've had some
> landlords who owned individual condos be flexible with my income once I
> showed them my job offer letter and savings. On the other hand, companies
> that rent loads of apartments allow a computer system to judge your
> eligibility so if you know you will not be determined eligible it's a waste
> of time and money.
> After you sign a lease, procure renter's insurance. This costs me about $130
> per year. I have it through State Farm, and renter's insurance is another,
> albeit shorter, email, but the internet has a lot of information about it.
> Some landlords will require proof of renter's insurance in which case you'll
> have to purchase it and send them your policy. If renter's insurance is
> required, ask your landlord if they have minimum coverage requirements so
> you're sure to get a policy that complies with your landlord's renter's
> insurance requirement. If your landlord does not require renter's insurance,
> get it anyway.
> I know this process can seem really daunting. It is stressful. But many
> people remember what it was like to move. I'm sure some NFB members and our
> sighted friends could be pulled in to step up. This is not a time to be shy
> or feel ashamed to ask. This is a time when you need an apartment. Get the
> help you need in a timely manner.
> On that note, if you are considering living anywhere in Seattle I can have a
> phone call with you  starting next week to talk about neighborhoods. I know
> the city of Seattle and our public transit extremely well. as you brainstorm
> what neighborhoods or cities you'll consider living in, feel free to let me
> know and I can connect you with people I know who are familiar with them.
> Good luck!
> Cindy
> -----Original Message-----
> From: NFBWATlk <nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Merribeth
> Greenberg via NFBWATlk
> Sent: Monday, December 9, 2019 11:31 AM
> To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org>
> Cc: Merribeth Greenberg <merribeth.manning at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [NFBWATlk] Looking for some Advice on Apartment- or
> Studio-Living
> Hi Humberto,
> Congrats on the new job; how exciting.
> The ladies have given some good advice and ideas.
> I just wanted to comment on the idea of the studio.
> I had one a while back; in a senior living place in Pocatello Idaho.
> They can be nice, but you have to be creative with storage. Everything is
> out in the open. The unit I had, had a sliding divider wall. But, I don't
> know that you would find them in most places. If you wanted to divide off
> your sleeping area from your entertaining area, you might have to purchase a
> free standing divider. If you do decide to divide the space it does feel
> smaller.
> From living here, I learned I don't like living alone. I rather have a
> roommate (a human one).
> Good luck on your new adventures; and Happy Holidays.
> Beth Greenberg
> On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 5:27 PM Humberto Avila via NFBWATlk <
> nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> Hello, All:
>> I hope you all are having a fantastic evening and weekend.
>> I am here with a question and / or a request for pieces of advice if
>> possible.  Here’s my situation:
>> Two weeks ago on 11/20/19, I interviewed for a teaching position with
>> a school district near the area where I am doing my independent living
>> training. The interview was awesome and I got a good impression of the
>> people I would be working with ETC.
>> But to cut to the chase quickly… yesterday I got a call from those
>> same people that interviewed me that day. I was offered the job
>> working with blind students in the Tacoma School District (In
>> Washington State) and I have accepted it on the phone. What comes next
>> is a matter of orientations, trainings, and the human resource part…
>> all of that very exciting. But well… where am I going to breathe after
>> long, hard, challenging, first couple of days at work? This is where I
>> would love asking my questions:
>>   1.  What are some of your experiences with going apartment searching?
>>   2.  What are some of your experiences with coping with moving in to
>> a new place and living independently?
>>   3.  What strategies and techniques do you use to learn your new
>> environment in your living arrangement?
>>   4.  Has anyone rented a studio apartment? What is your experience
>> with this type of living? Any perks, or inconveniences that I have to
>> deal with there?
>>   5.  How do you deal with inaccessible materials presented by
>> landlords, as well as leasing terms and conditions, and accommodations?
>> Any advice, once again, is deeply appreciated! Sorry for my longwinded
>> email. But thanks for reading, and I sure look forward to hearing from
>> you very soon. 😊
>> Best Wishes,
>> Humberto
>> [JAWS Certified, 2019]<http://www.freedomscientific.com/Certification>
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