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Lessons learned from my first apartment search in decades

The leasing manager asked what feature in an apartment was most important to me.

A simple enough question, I suppose, but it nonetheless threw me. Most important feature. Ceiling? Running water? Walls? Absence of rodents?

Sometimes I’m too literal for my own good. Turned out, the kind of answer he was looking for was “location.” Which, once he suggested it, became my answer. Location.

A pending move had put me in apartment-search mode for the first time in decades, and I had seen more than a dozen potential new landing spots. Representatives of the various complexes had sought to win my commerce with an array of onsite amenities, including billiards, shuffleboard tables, saltwater swimming pools, workout areas, dry-cleaning services, and communal gathering spots inside and outside, with Wi-Fi and grills, respectively.

None of which, except the workout areas, mattered to me. I’m more into things like bedrooms and kitchens and living rooms and closets. Especially closets, given that my wife has not outgrown any clothing since she was about 10.

When studying some of the floor plans of the various apartments I was considering, however, I found that none of the rooms bore anything resembling those descriptions.

Instead of a kitchen, there was an “eat.” Or, a “nourish.”

Instead of a living room, a “relax.” An “entertain.”

Instead of a bedroom, a “dream.”

Instead of a closet, a “dress.”

Someone, somewhere, looked at those descriptions and thought: “These are good. These are clever. These are now.” I looked at them and thought, “These are silly.”

Like any accomplished cook (imagine a winking emoji here), I would like to have found gas stoves. Alas, insurers nowadays apparently think of gas stoves and envision whole buildings reduced to charred rubble.

Likewise, no fireplaces, not even those faux log, glass-encased models that convey all the cozy atmosphere of a yule log video on TV.

Another thing I learned is that my pair of cats are apparently to be treated as full-fledged, four-legged lodgers, as opposed to the black and white, animal-shaped throw pillows they resemble about 18 hours a day.

One application wanted, in addition to their names, ages, weights and breed, the dates on which they were surgically rendered incapable of reproducing. If the cats knew, they might well object to having their privacy invaded so – especially the full-figured Mai, whose weight may be a touchy subject for her.

The cats are also each being charged $20 a month for rent, which I suspect they are going to rely on me to provide. Plus there’s a onetime fee of $500 to $600 for the two combined, just to get them in the door.

In the old days, that sort of charge would be refundable, provided the cats didn’t sack the place or saturate the carpet with that unmistakable fragrance that announces “a cat has found relief here.”

But no. Wave bye-bye to that money.

The only way to avoid it, I was given to understand, is to get some sort of doctor or shrink or whatever to attest in writing that the cats are necessary for my mental well-being. Those “support animals” are exempted, apparently.

I’m not willing to go that far, so I’ll just hand over the money. Because, now I think about it, that’s the most important feature in an apartment, or a house:

Cats.

Native Mississippian Joe Rogers worked for The Clarion-Ledger, The Tennessean and The New York Times.
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Joe Rogers
Native Mississippian Joe Rogers worked for The Clarion-Ledger, The Tennessean and The New York Times.

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