Apartment hunting in Durango is a lot like bad dating

by Jessie O’Brien

Like when first entering the dating scene, finding an apartment in Durango is initially exciting. You are at the start of a fresh chapter, and are full of positivity because the newness overshadows the harsh reality of what’s to come. That harsh reality is a test of will, and it forces one to renegotiate their standards until they become unrecognizable to themselves.

At first, apartment hunting is fun. It’s probably been a couple years since you’ve had to do it. You imagine your life living in your cozy nest, and have no doubts you will find the one – an open space with clean carpets, a gas stove, and Eastern-facing views.

You chalk up the first two or three unsuccessful “dates” as coincidence. Just as you are sure of your destiny with Prince Charming, you are sure of the affordable, spacious apartment you are destined to inhabit.

You soon realize you are being duped by online profiles with fancy language and straight-up lies. As 6-foot really means 5-foot-7; an efficiency apartment means a 302-square-foot box with industrial carpet and a mini-sink used for both kitchen and bathroom purposes. These $900 “studios,” with less legroom than an Allegiant flight, are not flukes. This is the pool you’re fishing in, and you have to pay the tab each month.

Then, miraculously, you meet an impeccably clean condo with character and charm. Utilities included?! This is a place you’d show your mom. You know your non-smoking, full-time job with no pets and good credit is a perfect match for this two-story space in a great location. But you also know that every strumpet in the area will be all over your find. You don’t waste any time applying. You have sleepless nights knowing you haven’t made an official commitment yet. Then the landlord, Lynne, leaves you for someone who isn’t even as good as you are because she can move in a week sooner. It was too good to be true.

Your friends encourage you to keep at it, even as you continue to be ghosted by landlords you thought you had chemistry with. You start re-evaluating your non-negotiables, like you did with the picky eater and that guy who thought Chacos were a reasonable fashion choice. You think, Maybe I don’t need a washer and dryer. Maybe inhaling mold isn’t as bad for you as they say.

You start looking at profiles way out of your league, and daydream about hardwood floors, Viking appliances, and vaulted ceilings, when you can only afford dentist office lighting and cat-piss carpet.

You end up moving into the $950 per month outdated squatter space, the one with a stained bathtub and an unpleasant, ambiguous, lingering smell. You end up staying in this sad location for the rest of your life because you think it’s all you deserve. You’re trapped. Then you find out too late that asbestos is hiding in the walls, right before you die an unhappy, painful death, with no Prince Charming or Fairy Landlord-Mother to rescue you.

Jessie O’Brien

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