Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I saw over 15 apartments, which is quite a lot. I only posted a few of those pictures in my last blog. One was too old, another was too close to a main road, many were too small, some too expensive. For one reason or another I just couldn't find one -- the shoe closet wasn't big enough, no fish grill, no bathroom dryer, there's a spider on the wall. My stay in the free serviced apartment had polluted my mind. In NY many of these would have been gems, but here I rejected one after another.

Now this is what you need to know about apartment negotiations. There are several costs that you're almost always expected to pay. First there is the deposit and would be from 1 - 3 months rent. This is not just for damages but for cleaning and regular wear and tear of the apartment when you leave. Very unlikely you will get that back if you plan to live in your apartment like normal people.

Second there is the key money. This is a gift to the landlord to say thank you for allowing me to stay in the building. This would be around 1-2 months rent and is nonrefundable. Kiss that bye bye.

Third is the maintenance fee. This is a small monthly fee on top of your rent for upkeep of the grounds, security etc. May be around $50 - $100 extra monthly.

Fourth is the renewal fee. Again, it's a gift to the landlord but only if you want to stay longer when your lease is expired. This time you're saying thank you for allowing me to stay longer. Expect to pay 1 months rent.

All are negotiable. So once you've found a place, you tell your agent what you want her to put on the application to the landlord. So if the rent is $1400, 2 month key, 2 month deposit etc. I would tell her to put $1200, 1 month key, 1 month deposit. She submits the application and it's always first come first serve here. So, my application will only be considered if the others before me did not work out or if I am truly the first to apply. Then the landlord would come back with an application approval or a counter offer. So he can come back with $1400 (not $1200 like I wanted), 1 month key, 1 month deposit. It's then for me to accept of decline. It's unusual here to "counter" the counter offer.

Of course, the bigger the place and the bigger your budget gives you more leverage to negotiate. Some landlords would throw in free stuff like curtains, rugs, fridge, washers etc. It's fun, it's like a game.

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