by Dave Twombly

As promised in my last post, this is being written from my new Cambridge apartment.  Sitting at the kitchen table (yes, I have a table in the kitchen now!) on the top floor of a wonderfully maintained building, I want to repeat that phrase, ‘wonderfully maintained’.  It still makes me giddy.  Neither of these words could be used about my previous apartment. One could barely use the word ‘maintained’ in conjunction with the apartment. That is, of course, aside from the sweat my wife and I put into the place.

From the first time I saw the new property I could tell there was something different.  My old apartment was on a street of million dollar houses (which isn’t rare in Cambridge)  yet was an eyesore on the block. It featured a porch badly in need of painting, siding that was discolored and stained and a small front garden that hadn’t been loved or cared for in over a year.  The new place almost sparkled.  A lovely color with a nicely painted foundation.  Nice plantings around the building, a fenced in yard (that didn’t feature a gate falling off its hinges) that was nicely trimmed.  The apartment itself was in  great shape (I’ll spare you the details of our old place).

Our first meeting with the landlord was great.  While she was reserved at first, feeling us out, we talked about our family, who we were and what we were  looking for. Yes, we met personally with our landlord. This, to us, was extremely important. When living in a shared space whether it’s a condo or rental (more on this in future postings) I feel it’s important to KNOW who shares that space with you. In a rental it’s important to KNOW the person whose property you are living in.  As per my previous post, she actually welcomed a young family with a small child.

As we got closer to and then signed the lease, we found the landlord more than willing to hire, and pay for, a painter to repaint the new place.  In our last place we painted the space ourselves and were reimbursed for the paint. As new parents with a 1 year old daughter crawling all over the place, painting the new apartment ourselves was not an option. Further, upon starting to move in we found the landlord here, replacing the washing machine.  Finally once we got into the space we emailed her a list of fixes that needed to happen. She promptly arranged to have everything repaired (within a matter of days).  Yes, this all sounds fairly standard and run of the mill.  And it should be.  But that’s not always the case. For 4 years we lived in a space where the fixes were ours, not done professionally, or just not addressed at all.  This is a much better way.

The moral of this post?  It’s important to know what you are getting into.  It’s easy to overlook or ignore problems when you are right out of college or living with roommates in a place that is not your own.  Once you are part of a young family and have a space that is your home (be it condo, rental, teepee in the yard or a van down by the river), the tolerance for the broken and unfixed lessens.  Having responsible landlords, condo associations or property managers are of the utmost import.  Do your homework, meet those responsible face to face and ask your future neighbors.  The little effort now will make your life that much better later.

We are giddy to be in the new space.