Since the goal of this blog is to give a portrait of sorts to the renters of Duluth, it would only be fair for me to start by letting you all into my home. (Figuratively…or if you want to come over and hang, cool. I’ll make snacks. Bring wine.)
As you know, I’m Michelle. I’ve been renting for around five years and I’ve lived in four different rentals. My first experience with renting was with five other people in an old converted duplex that a friend lovingly (we hope) called “The Green Hippie Barn” on foursquare. It was huge. It was green. We were crunchy college kids. Since then I’ve always named my apartments. Mostly after landlords (like the “Michael” apartment, or the “Steve” apartment) so my friends and I could differentiate which properties we were talking about. The only time I had a difficult search for a place to live was for my current living situation. I wanted to find a one bedroom apartment for around $500 (if you listen carefully, you’ll hear all of the young people who rent in Duluth laughing at my unattainable dream.) And after two months of searching, two months of crying, two months of application-sending and budget crunching, I found a spot. My “Tonya” apartment was a shady listing on Craigslist, but turned out to be quite great. (That’s not the real name of the apartment, but I haven’t decided yet if I want to include the actual names of companies and landlords. This town, while home to about 90,000 people, is incredibly small.)
My Tonya apartment is a glorified hallway. I live in a converted home that is now a duplex. There is a group of college students who live in the four bedroom rental below me. They smoke a lot of weed (or have a pack of skunks, to be determined) and their kitchen is right below my bathroom. I have a lot of anxiety that they can hear me poop while they are making dinner. It’s in a central location fairly close to major roads that make my commute pretty short, roughly 8 minutes to one office and 15 to another.
As I mentioned in my first post, I pay $500 a month (utilities included) for my apartment. I also count internet as a household expense, which is about $40. So, my household expenses come to about 30% of my monthly income. I don’t have renters insurance, which is dumb, and I’m working on it. I’m fairly happy with the rent I’m paying and I think I’m getting a fair deal. There’s ample space for me to live in and a ton of storage space. I have as many closets as I do rooms. Four rooms, four closets. Sometimes I have access to our two off-street parking spaces, but sometimes I park on-street. I don’t have access to laundry, so I either schlep my stuff to a laundromat or when I go see my parents, I use the Mom-dromat (I thought that was a clever name. Don’t worry, my mom doesn’t actually do my laundry. I can be an adult.)
I’ve been fairly happy with my place. My rental company is okay. They cover lawn care, but I have to shovel (which I hate.) This year has been especially bad for mice throughout Duluth homes, and my apartment was no exception. Luckily, I have a wonderful boyfriend who is not nearly as freaked out by mice as I am so he takes care of my traps. I have surrendered my kitchen pantry to the mice. It’s their clubhouse now. I don’t even care. But my property management was acting silly when I reported the mice and a huge piece of wall missing from my pantry. I was given run-around answers and was told they couldn’t survey the problem due to me not being home, even with my permission to enter my unit, because they didn’t have the key to my backdoor (apparently previous tenants left that door unlocked?!) I also need them to update one of my smoke alarms because it expired. Did you know smoke detectors expire? There’s a date. Go check yours. They also didn’t think cat allergies affect people as terribly as they do, but LOL I could tell a cat had lived in this apartment. Ask the mega pack of Benadryl I bought one day after moving. But the company offered a fair lease and cashes my check on time. So, it’s been okay. Not great. Not terrible.
If I had the choice, I would love to save for a house. My current financial situation doesn’t lend itself to that option, so I’ll be renting for the next few years. I wish my floors didn’t slant and that my walls could hold screws (I think it’s just drywall or something) because then I wouldn’t be constantly stressed if something was going to fall (looking at you clothing shelf in my room.) The hardwood needs love and there is a mysterious stain in the carpet which I think is from that cat that wasn’t supposed to live here before me. I’d like if my floor plan was a little more open and I would also like to be able to not fear if my bedroom is going to fall onto the porch directly below it. It could use fresh paint and a few more kitchen storage options. I do have a wee view of the lake, which is lovely. Overall, I feel as if the rental Goddess of Duluth took pity on me and blessed me with this apartment.
Probably the most exciting thing for me is this space is all my own. I decorated. I purchased or was gifted the furniture. I have my most precious things on display. It’s been exciting and I’m glad I am able to do this because I know a lot of people my age don’t have the luxury of solo apartment dwelling.
So, this is what this blog is going to be. Profiles of the renters of Duluth. Maybe Superior, but they have better rent rates than us. Worse politics, though. People are cool and interesting and their homes reflect that. Let me know if you want to be a part of this. I’d love to see your home.