AT On... Renting Sight Unseen (...Unheard, and Unfelt)

AT On... Renting Sight Unseen (...Unheard, and Unfelt)

Regina Yunghans
Sep 11, 2008

It you've ever rented an apartment sight unseen, you know the fears that it'll turn out to be something like the photo up top. But the cons of renting without visiting first are generally much more nuanced than that...

We rented our current apartment sight unseen. We were moving out of the country for only a year, and we didn't have the time to get away and search for apartments in person. But we did our research: requested photographs and floorplans from the owner and read about the neighborhood. That research proved effective: when it comes to the appearance of the apartment's interior and the amenities in the neighborhood, we're pleased as punch. There are other details of a home, however, that can only be sensed firsthand:

  • Our street is quiet and off the beaten path. That looks good on maps and in written form. But it reality, it's also a favorite for buses idling between routes.
  • The side alley next to our building is quaint and lets lots of natural light into our apartment's interior. But it's also access to a small plumbing business that loads up their vans with clanking equipment very early each morning. Drunken weekend passers-by love to step into this same alley for loud conversations (and even singing) at 3am.
  • The shower is in a beautiful, newly renovated bathroom. It has frameless glass doors and porcelain tile that look so clean and modern in photos of the apartment. But hot water is very slow to come.
  • The refrigerator is large and new compared to our apartment back in NY. But it runs with a loud hum. The casement windows let in lots of light and are easy to clean. But their handles are old and don't function properly.

It's not our intention to be complainers: we're very satisfied with the apartment in general. The experience has just been a strong reminder of how important all of the senses are when it comes to making a home. Photographs can only reach so far. Then the other senses step in, creating a sense of home in more depth than appearance alone. The warmth of sunlight streaming in at a particular time of day. The quiet sounds of leaves and breeze undisturbed by hums and rattles and roars. The solid feel of the materials used in construction of the home. The details of home with the most impact can be those you will never see in a photo but rather those you can hear, smell, and feel.

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