Seven Reasons Apartment Hunting on a Budget in Dallas Sucks

If you know much about Dallas, you've heard the affordability myth. We lure thousands of young professionals here each year with the promise of inexpensive rent. But if you're not in finance, oil, accounting or climbing the ladder of a technology company, you've probably spent time debunking this yourself. To find an affordable, centrally located apartment is a chore. I know, because until roughly one hour ago, I was still hunting. While I can't explain my eventual luck, I can share some of my frustration. Here are seven reasons apartment hunting on a budget in Dallas sucks.

Discovering You Qualify for Subsidized Housing When you first move to Dallas, you're flying free and easy. That new job you took in advertising seems to pay decently enough and you've been told that in this sweltering southern state the nightlife is hot and the living is cheap. You admit your budget to a leasing agent and they inform you that you qualify for something called the "in-city rate." That's right, if you make up to $38,000/year you can live in certain luxury apartments in Oak Cliff (Alexan, Zang Triangle) or downtown Dallas (The Continental), where the city has allocated funds for redevelopment. If you want that rate though, god forbid you received a bonus last year.

Aggressive Leasing Agents God forbid you've ever expressed interest in apartments on Hotpads. By 6 a.m. the next morning you'll find yourself bombarded with emails from the millions of leasing agents they release your information too. They'll send list after list of apartments that are notably out of your price range and spam text messages for weeks on end, "Find an apartment yet? Let me show you a few." The truth is, you're almost always better off on your own anyway.

Potential Neighbors As you tour apartment complexes, you'll hear strange noises, smell strong odors and there will be dog shit everywhere. People here are the worst.

The False Neighborhood Maps Does the Bishop Arts District really stretch all the way to Beckley? Does Gaston count as Lower Greenville? When a listing is too quick to tout its nearby neighborhood, or claim to be at the heart of the Design District, think twice. That mile walk to Meddlesome Moth won't seem quite so friendly after dark.

You Can't Trust Pictures. Ever. While we're on the subject of not trusting pictures, let's discuss the incredibly misleading photos on listings. If it has palm trees, it's not Dallas ... or they're very dead by now.

The Really Nice versus the Really Shitty There is monstrous disparity between a $1,000/month apartment and a $750/month one. You'll probably make the mistake of looking at the nice buildings that appear proximate to your price range, only to find yourself facing a number far too expensive. This, of course, will make your next apartment visit painful. Your budget doesn't come with hardwood floors or granite countertops. Oh, and that walk-in closet? Don't make me laugh.

Good Rates Come with Long Leases I just signed a 15-month lease to lock in a killer price. I don't even know if I'll be alive in 15 months. But at least I'll die with a roof over my head.

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Lauren Smart
Contact: Lauren Smart