In typical Nicole fashion, I'm all over this new apartment search. I've looked at five places in my acceptable price range and have called about many others.

Adventures_in_babysitting I'm continually surprised at how many bad places there are out there. And since I'm not looking at the bottom of the bottom, I can't imagine how some people out there are living.

I think tonight, I found my new home. It's not what I expected and it's quite small, but I just had that really good feeling when I walked in. 

I've learned some things in my search these last couple of weeks:

1. The more you look at, the more you know. Nothing gives you a glimpse at the real estate market like looking at a lot of places. You get a feel for what is a good deal and what isn't.

2. Take a cue from the landlord. Are they snoopy? Can they not look you in the eye? Your landlord is someone you will deal with regularly. You will call this person when your pipes freeze or you get locked out. Your landlord doesn't have to be your best friend but liking them really helps. My potential landlord happens to be a long lost cousin of mine, and known as the nicest guy in town.

3. Know your dealbreakers, and deal makers. For example, I love a gas stove. I don't expect it but when I see one, I make a little mental check mark. And as the owner of an older dog, I need easy porch access. (I've walked down three flights of stairs at 3 am more then once this week to let Sadie do her thing. That can't happen on a regular basis!) Don't think some little aspect you'd like to have is trivial. It's the little things in life that are important.

4. Don't be afraid to bargain. If you have a well behaved dog, maybe you can talk your way out of a pet deposit. Maybe the lease can be made more flexible if you can't commit to a year. If you like a place, it's worth asking. It's like haggling in a retail store: delicate but it can be done.

5. Go with your gut. Like I said, the place I saw tonight definitely had some flaws, like being tiny. But the feeling I got when I walked in was one of calm. The place had a lot of windows, was well divided, had a nice kitchen, and it had something else I can't quite put my finger on. There's a lot to be said for that love-at-first-sight feeling.

Thanks to all of you for all your kind thoughts during my transition to this new life. Like with all major decisions, I'm going to sleep on this one but I'm pretty sure I have found my little place.

Our first in-person workshop in 2+ years is happening September 24!

X