Your life plan probably didn’t include starting over and moving back to your first apartment… the same way as your promise of “I do” turned into “I do not…”The party’s over so what now? Step one is to put on your big boy/girl pants (not seriously, you will look like a scary clown and may be unable to rent your new apartment) and take care of where you are going to live. More than $16 billion of homes are sold each year due to divorce. Some get to keep their home, but most sell and spit the proceeds with their “ex” and their lawyer. Divorce is probably the hardest transition you will have to face in your life. Losing the comforts and sense of safety and comfort in your own home can lead to depression for all family members, so it’s a key time to check your attitude before turning the key. Understand that this is a change for the moment. Things will change. You have an exciting opportunity to meet new people, experience a new part of town, and create your own version of “home” for you and your kids.
Your glass may be half full, but that just gives you the opportunity to add more to it!
Seven Things for a Single Parent to Consider when Renting an Apartment
1. Price & Budget – Before starting your search and getting your hopes and expectations up on the penthouse, hit the reality button. That means sit down and do the hard math. Budget your new reality down to the pennies. Be realistic. Don’t pretend that you’re going to switch off your HBO if you’re a Game of Thrones addict. Set your budget wisely. Don’t overspend or stretch yourself on fixed apartment costs. Know what the additional utilities will be. This is for the NOW, not for the FOREVER. Use the next 6-12 months to save some money, get back on your feet, and learn about yourself and where and what you want to do with your new life direction.
2. Safety and Security – All you perfect patents out there may be arguing that this should be the No.1 Priority. And it is–after your budget reality. Research the monthly crime reports in the areas where you are looking. Spend time walking around the apartment community. Are there security gates? Does your building have a doorman? Can anyone including yourself just walk in, and to what areas? These things are especially important if you have any type of restraining order. Discuss your issues and concerns with the property managers and look at their online ratings.
3. Proximity/ Location – As a single parent, your free time has just halved and your carpooling doubled. Focus on giving yourself the most breathe time by making sure your new apartment is as close as possible to your work, kids’ schools, and believe it or not co-parent or your family. I can’t tell you how many people I speak to who look to start “fresh” and escape the ex and family, only to find themselves very alone and spending a lot of time in the car shuttling kids or lacking kid support. Distance is good; living on the moon is not.
4. Social, but Not Too Social… – Kids first, plain and simple. Check out the pool area, if they have one, on the weekend. The margarita machines and keg stands might look fun, but leave that to Spring Break without the kids. Look for professional families and facilities that you would be proud to introduce to the Judge…
5. Pet Friendly? – Don’t assume anything. Make sure Fido is as welcome as your kids before signing, and also if there is a pet area or dog park close. The flip side being, if you need peace and quiet you probably don’t want a wolf pack living next door.
6. Making it Home – Being the outright “boss” means you get to finally paint the kitchen yellow. Well not always. Make sure to find out what remodeling can be done to your new apartment. Can you paint? Hang shelves or pictures? How will this affect your security deposit? Depending on your apartment choice, your options may be limited and exit options costly. But you can still turn those lemons into your yellow kitchen with inexpensive accents, art, plates, and drapes.
7. Read the Fine Print – Understand what it takes to break your lease. This is your first time solo in possibly years. What you think you needed today may not be the same in six months, with a new job, school, or possibly a relationship. So cut yourself some slack and make sure you know your options.Your attitude toward this transition and investing in making it a positive one will have long-term rewards for your kids and their attitudes. Not only today but also how they deal with change in their futures. Have fun, be creative, and make lemonade out of lemons.