Apartment hunting is similar to job hunting in that if you fail at either one for too long you become homeless. You can get your own apartment, which is expensive. Or you can move into an existing apartment, similar to how lesser hermit crabs move into bigger shells, and so on and so forth until they live inside of Volkswagens.
To begin your housing quest, first go on Craigslist and locate the city you want to live in. You can still look at other cities (like “Buffalo”) but you'll need to make sure that whichever apartment you look at is willing to commute. Otherwise, settle on something within an hour of where you work or drink the most at.
E-mail the person with the apartment and tell them about yourself. Don't be honest. You're not that interesting. Tell them that you are a reformed ax murder, or “the ballet dancer killer” or an astronaut who has been widowed tragically and inexplicably seven times.
Next, go and meet your potential roommates. You should dress to impress, so wear a tuxedo. You might be tempted to just launch into introductions, right there in the doorway, but that would be foolhardy. As soon as they say, “Hi, I'm Amy and this is Todd,” yell “CAN I USE YOUR BATHROOM?” Then, in the privacy of the bathroom, collect yourself. Take as long as you like. You want to appear alert and energetic, so maybe lie down and take a nap in the bathtub.
Once you're ready, head into their living room and start investigating stuff. People like you to notice things and ask questions about them. For instance, if you see Wuthering Heights on the bookshelf, pick it up and ask, “Oh, did you read this?” When one of them starts babbling about how they were an English Lit major in college, flip to page 472 and ask them what the first sentence is. If they don't remember, ask them if they own any psychology books about pretending to read stuffy old novels to sound smart.
You'll probably want to see the room you'll be staying in. Just like in a job interview, you want to appear sharp and intelligent, so ask lots of questions. Here are some good ones:
- Would you say this room is more “rectangular” or “trapezoidal”?
- How many bodies do you think could hypothetically stack in the closet hypothetically?
- Is there an “en-suite” bathroom?
- (If not) Can I build one?
You'll also want to check on your neighbors. If you live in a multistory building, for instance, will your neighbors be cool with you sawing a two-foot diameter hole in the floor to install a fireman pole? Also, do they get edgy about hearing screams a lot? Like, a lot of screams. Are the neighbors sticklers about noise from machinery at certain hours, such as chainsaws? What if you called them in advance and said, “There will probably be a lot of yelling and screaming tonight between 1:30 and 1:37. Just letting you know,” would they be chill?
By now your future roommates will adore you and want to make you dinner. Eat as much as you can as fast as you can, then go sleep it off in the bathtub.