Spinsterly Reads: Maxine Hong Kingston

The American Spinster Review of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

“Perhaps women were once so dangerous they had to have their feet bound.”

The American Spinster Review: Maxine Hong KingstonThe Woman Warrior is a spellbinding mixture of autobiography, family history, and girlhood fantasies. From the opening section, “No Name Woman,” the story of Kingston’s disowned aunt, to tales of her mother’s time as a village doctor in “Shaman,” Kingston’s book reads like a whispered confession.

As a daughter in a family of Chinese immigrants, Kingston struggles with the conflicting messages her mother gives. Daughters are worthless, slaves, maggots. And yet, her mother also told Kingston and her sisters stories of warrior women, like Fa Mulan. Stories of courageous women who avenged their families and fought better than men.

As a child caught between two cultures, Kingston struggles with her inability to speak for herself and her deep desire to be seen and understood. She knows that, although supposedly considered a worthless girl, she is also supposed to be a warrior and save her people. Who who people are, however, was a mystery to her.

Why It’s a Spinsterly Read

Kingston writes that she and her sisters made up their minds to learn science and mathematics, to never marry or be dependent on a husband, who might someday abandon them. Having grown up with stories of how hopeless their lives would be as girls if the family moved back to China, as well as stories of their mother’s independence as a doctor before she immigrated, they learn that they have to be able to care for themselves if they want to survive.

To avoid the arranged marriage her parents try to set up, she cooks poorly and breaks dishes to prove that she’s not good wife material.

“Even now, unless I’m happy, I burn the food when I cook. I do not feed people. I let the dirty dishes rot. I eat at other people’s tables but won’t invite them to mine, where the dishes are rotting.”

Even when the possibility of marrying is acceptable, she still determines that she won’t let herself be a burden or an excuse.

“No husband of mine will say, ‘I could have been a drummer, but I had to think about the wife and kids. You know how it is.’ Nobody supports me at the expense of his own adventure.”

Kingston’s Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts is an engaging, if unusual, read. Many women will be able to relate to it, regardless of their racial or socioeconomic upbringing. It taps into something fundamentally American, fundamentally female.

Find Woman Warrior on IndieBound

Spinster How-To: Living Safely By Yourself

American Spinster How-To: Feeling Safe At Home

Since the previous blogs covered finding an apartment, home safety seemed like the next best logical step.

Living Safely By YourselfI’ve heard a lot of people talk about feeling unsafe when they’re at home alone. This is rarely a problem for me, but the first few nights in a new place are always the exception. Still, I don’t lose any sleep. Why not? I know I’m as safe as I can be. The best way to feel safe when you live alone, is to be safe.


Living Safely By YourselfIf you live in an apartment or rental house, you probably aren’t allowed to change the locks, but you can still make sure that those who have a key can’t enter without your permission. Products such as a door brace are 100% temporary ways to prevent anyone from getting inside, with or without a key.

Why do you need to prevent key holders from getting inside? I’m not paranoid when I say you can’t depend on your apartment managers to do a good job screening their employees. When you live alone, your safety is in your hands. An unscrupulous maintenance person can easily make copies of keys to use for unlawful purposes, so it’s always better to be safe.

American Spinster: Living Safely By YourselfAside from intentional malice, some maintenance workers just won’t respect your privacy that much. I’ve once had someone just unlock and open the door to my apartment, ironically to drop off a replacement key. He meant no harm, but I was very taken aback, especially since I wasn’t dressed.

If you are living someplace where you can make permanent modifications, consider getting a door club or bar restraint.
Windows and Back Door

Again, if you’re renting, permanent security measures may not be an option, and even if they are, iron bars aren’t the most attractive window treatment. A simple security bar will prevent anyone from opening a sliding window or glass door.


Other Measures

  • Keep your phone by your bed, in case you need to call for help
  • Lock your doors whenever you go out, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Do a quick check whenever you return home, to make sure no security measures are out of place

When you know you’re safe, you’ll feel safe. For the first few nights in your new place, it may help to check the closets, behind the shower curtain, and other areas before bed. So what if you feel silly? You owe yourself a sound night’s sleep.

Spinsterly Reads: Lyddie

The American Spinster Review of Katherine Paterson’s Lyddie

Growing up, one of my favorite fiction writers was Katherine Paterson. She’s the children’s lit writer who created the Newberry Honor-winning The Great Gilly Hopkins, and the Newberry Medal-winning Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved. The less recognized novel that I’m thinking of today, however, is called Lyddie. It’s short; just over 180 pages, but the main character has stuck with me more than Gilly or Jess, or even Louise, to whom I so easily related as a child.

The Story

Lyddie Worthen starts out as a poor farm girl. Her father disappears after heading West, and her mother leaves their home to live with relatives a few years after. Lyddie stays with her brother to work the land, until their mother hires her out to work at a tavern.

Lyddie learns then what it’s like to live like “a black slave.” Her time is not her own, as she works long hours for no wages (all of her pay is sent to her mother). She gains nothing but meager food and board for her work, at least until the proprietress fires her for visiting her brother. Although Lyddie knows she doesn’t need to leave (the proprietress will forget in a day or two), she takes this as her freedom. Lyddie has heard that girls can earn a living working in the fabric factories of Lowell. Once freed, Lyddie heads south to find a job.

The American Spinster: Lyddie

After she’s hired at a textile mill, Lyddie works harder than ever. She’s seen by the other workers as a miser, since she carefully saves every spare cent she earns, intending to pay off the debt on her family’s farm and eventually move back home.

While the other girls in the factory talk about petitioning for a shorter, ten-hour work day, Lyddie is afraid of the idea of earning less money. She sees her roommates’ health deteriorate due to the terrible conditions in the mill, and she herself is being worked to utter exhaustion. But her determination doesn’t alter; she must earn as much as she possibly can to reclaim her family’s home.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, except to say that it surprised me by not being the traditional, happy ending you’d expect.

Why It’s a Spinsterly Read

Although it’s written by a modern author, the heroine isn’t an anachronism. Many women found independence as factory hands during the industrial revolution.  But Lyddie’s story, fairly typical of working girl, isn’t the inspiring success story you’d find on Oprah. Conditions in the mills are horrendous compared to today’s standards. Workers could expect 14 hour workdays, no safety regulations, and had no recourse for sexual harassment or abuse. Lyddie and her friends all sacrifice important elements of themselves for the freedom to earn a living. And, quite un-heroically, Lyddie refuses to protest for better working conditions for herself and her ailing friends, for fear of losing her position.

But Lyddie’s determination to be free and make her own way in the world is admirable. She’s a fiercely independent young woman, who scorns a marriage proposal, infuriated by what she sees as a request for ownership of her body and soul. Even after losing everything she worked for, she continues to carry on, in search of true freedom – not an easy goal for a poor woman in 19th century.

Find Lyddie on Indiebound

Childfree at 30

Now that I’ve reached the big 3-0, maybe people will begin to see me as a childless woman, rather than a woman who simply hasn’t realized she wants kids yet.

I don’t dislike kids. I get along with most kids very well. I’ve simply decided not to raise them. But this decision has perplexed some people.

The American Spinster: Childfree
Don’t pretend you don’t want this.

For a while, they could come up with excuses for me. At 25, I was ‘still young,’ in a new relationship, and simply hadn’t settled down enough to realize my inner, procreative desires. At 28, I was at the age where I should have come to terms with my biological urges, but somehow still hadn’t. How could a uterus-bearer not be trying to get pregnant?

It’s as though children are iPads, and if you don’t want something that trendy and fun, you’re off your rocker.

But even if children were iPads, an iPad just doesn’t fit into everyone’s life. Believe it or not, some people have different desires than other people. To those women who just can’t understand how someone with a womb could possibly not have, at the core of her very soul, a burning desire to make a baby, I say this: just because you feel a certain way does not mean that all women feel that way. We don’t share a hive mind. The whole thing seems very similar to me as a straight man saying, “I just can’t understand how a dude would want to sleep with another dude. I could never, ever want that.” Well, of course. But isn’t that’s how many a gay man would feel about sleeping with a woman?

Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean everyone else does.

The American Spinster: Childfree

And the fact that not everyone wants what you want doesn’t make you wrong. It makes you an individual. And that’s okay. Did you have children just to prove me wrong? No, of course not. Likewise, I did not abstain from child-rearing to prove you wrong.

I did it because I’m a free woman living in 2016, and I had the choice.


Spinster How-To: Buying Car Insurance

American Spinster How-To: Buying Car Insurance

I was going to post something different today, but last night I was involved in a hit-and-run accident, and the fact that I had the right insurance saved me a lot of money and grief.

pixabay asIf you own a car, you need insurance. Many insurance companies today let you build your own policy, advertising incredibly low prices. Be careful of these. They’re not bad companies, but that initial, look-how-much-you-can-save policy they show you when you visit their website probably won’t be enough to protect you.

So what do you need?

Please note: This is just a brief overview to get you started. Laws vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check the requirements in your state. This How-To is meant to give you the vocabulary and rudimentary education you need to ask educated questions of your provider to make an informed decision.

Collision insurance covers you if you’re involved in a collision with a car or something else, such as a telephone pole or building.

pixabay asComprehensive
This covers you for things such as a tree falling on your car, or other accidents that aren’t generally the result of a car accident. A rule-of-thumb way to think about this is that comprehensive insurance covers you for things that happen to your car when you’re not in it. “Comprehensive” is a broad term, so be careful to read the fine print on your policy to see what it actually covers.

Personal Liability
This covers the cost of medical bills to the other car’s driver and passengers if you are at fault in an accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage
This covers your damages if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, or a driver whose insurance won’t cover the cost of all the damage.

Not all states require all types of insurance, though all states require that you have insurance of some sort. There may be something required in your state that’s not even listed here. When deciding what you want to buy, you’ll want to consider the premium (amount you pay per month for insurance), the deductibles, the value of your car, and any other requirements that may apply in your situation.

Pay attention to your deductibles. That’s the amount of money you’ll have to pay out of pocket before your insurance company picks up the tab. If there’s, for example, if you have a $500 deductible for collision insurance, and you’re in a collision that causes $3000 worth of damage to your vehicle, you’ll only have to pay the first $500 dollars. Generally speaking, the lower your deductible (less money you have to pay before your insurance takes over), the higher your insurance premium. You’ll have to decide what the best balance of monthly cost and potential out-of-pocket expense is for you.

pixabay asThe Value Of Your Vehicle
If your car is worth very little, you probably won’t want to pay a high monthly premium. In some cases, the cost of damage to your car in an accident may be more than your car is worth, making some elements, such as collision, less important to you.

Is Your Vehicle Paid Off?
If you’re still paying off your car loan, you may be required to have a certain type of insurance, such as collision. Check with your lender to see if they have any special requirements.

When choosing your own insurance, you have the option to give yourself a low monthly premium, but often at the cost of better coverage. Fortunately, you can often choose how much coverage you want for each element, and how high or low your deductible is.

The bottom line is, no matter how careful a driver you are, accidents still happen. You may be the victim of another driver, or your car could be damaged by a natural disaster. Your car could also be damaged by someone breaking into it in an attempt to steal valuables. The right insurance will protect you from all of this at a fairly low cost. Be sure to answer all questions truthfully, and always make your payments on time. If you should get into an accident with lapsed insurance, your provider may not have to cover you.

Once you’ve purchased your insurance, make sure you keep your insurance card in your car or in your wallet. Most companies will send you two identical cards, meaning you can keep one on you at all times, and the other in your car.

Finally, when all of that is taken care of, enjoy. You’re a responsible adult with a car and insurance. Drive safely, have fun.

pixabay as


Spinsterly Reads: Amanda Palmer

The American Spinster Review of Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking.

The American Spinster Review: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
“Take the f*cking flower!”

I should confess, I have been a devoted fan of Amanda Palmer for years. Since 2004 when I first heard of the bizarre and yet inexplicably familiar sound of her band The Dresden Dolls, I’ve been in love. Fan-love, that is, not creepy-stalker-fan-love. Just unadulterated adoration of an artist and her art.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the line between safe fan-love and creepy-stalker-fan-love when looking at The Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer fan base. From the outside, it’s all pretty unusual. Palmer couchsurfs and hitchhikes with her fans via Twitter, encourages them to ask her personal questions, and even allows them to draw with Sharpies on her naked body. This has led to a bond between artist and fans that outside observers often have a hard time understanding.

Fans who followed her long battle with her record label know how she tried to explain her brand of ‘marketing’ to them, and how the label just didn’t understand (actually connecting with fans on a personal level? Madness! This cannot lead to record sales). Palmer has been raked across the coals of social opinion for daring to have a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, and even occasionally criticized for marrying celebrity author Neil Gaiman. Yet her 2013 TED Talk was so popular, it lead to a book deal.

In The Art Of Asking, Palmer demonstrates that asking for things isn’t the same as begging, and receiving isn’t the same as scamming. She explains that trust and asking are intimately, inseparably connected. Asking makes you vulnerable. You just have to trust.

The American Spinster Review: The Art of Asking by Amanda PalmerWhy is this of spinsterly interest? Because tied up with album costs and fan interaction is the issue of independence. Palmer talks about her marriage to Gaiman (whose proposals she refused for years before finally accepting), the public perception of it, and about the difficulty that she, Queen of Asking, had in asking her husband for help.

The book is intensely personal and open, much like Palmer’s direct interaction with her fans. It can be an emotionally challenging read at times (and this coming from someone who followed her intimate, emotion-laden blog for years). But when I turned the last page, I found it well worth the personal investment.

Many proudly independent women will be able to relate to Palmer’s journey and growth. In fact, many people in general will be able to relate. That’s because it’s fundamentally a book examining the trust and intimate exchanges involved in the often difficult task of Asking. If nothing else, it’s a rarely seen view on the matter, and worth a read for anyone.

See The Art of Asking at amandapalmer.net

Buy Your Life

Buy Your Life

In keeping with the recent theme of renting an apartment, I thought I’d add a few words about renting versus buying – in the spiritual sense.

You know that Dido song, “Life for Rent?”

I always thought that I would love to live by the sea
To travel the world alone and live most simply.
I have no idea what’s happened to that dream
Cause there’s really nothing left here to stop me.

If we spinsters had a theme song, I’m pretty sure that would be it.

What we get from TV, movies, and the stories of our friends and family, is that life as an adult really beings when that special someone settles down with us, we buy that house, and start “living the dream.”

The American Spinster: Buy Your LifeSo, for many of us who aren’t married and living in the house with the picket fence, where we are in life may feel like a hallway we’re meandering down, looking for the right door. Or, as Dido might put it, a rental house preceding the dream house.

Believe me when I tell you there has never been a better time to buy. And the great part is that owning your life is nowhere near as stressful, costly, or risky as buying a house. But it might be just as scary. Maybe more.

What do I mean by this whole buy/rent analogy? When you buy a home, you can put nails in the walls, change the carpet, paint, put in a garden, even add some new rooms or knock some old walls down. In short, you can remake it according to your own dreams. You’re also investing in it. You put money into it, knowing that the improvements you make will increase its value. And that’s exactly what you do to your life when you own it.

People who pay rent on their lives don’t turn them into something that makes them happy.

If my life is for rent
And I don’t learn to buy
I deserve nothing more than I get
Cause nothing I have is truly mine.

The American Spinster: Buy Your Life
Go ahead. Renovate that neglected warehouse you’ve been living in.

For instance, when I was little, my parents owned the house that we lived in. It was their first home together. They painted the kitchen, built a back deck, and even put in a window over looking the back yard. They created beautiful landscaping, and I even got to paint my room.

Then they lost that house. We moved into a rental (and then another, and another). There were no more gardens, no landscaping, no renovations. No room was ever painted, not a single picture hung on the walls, nothing that would indicated we had any plans to stay.

And I get it. My parents had loved and lost, and didn’t want to lose again.

When I moved out and got my first apartment, however, I decked that place out like I had a 40-year mortgage. I only lived there for a year, and it was kind of a pain to have to repack everything. But I’ve never once regretted it. Living with all my things in boxes, indefinitely, is no way to live.

Your life circumstances may change dramatically in the future. You may break up with the love of your life, find the love of your life, or lose the career you’ve always wanted. But this is the only life you’ve got, so you’ve got to own it. And look, just because you paint the kitchen green doesn’t mean you can’t paint over it later. It’s your life. You can re-decorate as many times as you like.

The American Spinster: Buy Your LifeEnjoy every wonderful moment of your spinster life, because in a few years, you may be somewhere completely different. But, no matter what, don’t wait for that new set of circumstances to arrive before you buy your life.

Buy it. Redecorate it. Make it yours. Make it somewhere you love to be.

Spinster How-To: Finding An Apartment – Part II

American Spinster How-To: Your First Apartment

Part II: Making Your Selection

Last week I talked about 6 things to look at while surveying your apartment options. This week we’ll go over what to do when you’ve narrowed your list down to a few places.

Finding An Apartment, Part II
Looks idyllic from the outside…

First, you’ll want to call the offices of your top picks, ask if they’re accepting new leasers, and – if they are – schedule an appointment to discuss your application and view a unit. Make sure you can sit down and talk to someone and see the inside of an apartment before you submit an application. It’s a good idea to bring a friend along when you go, for safety and as an extra set of eyes.

When you’re at the meeting, ask questions. Lots of questions. Even if you think you’re being annoying. Some import ones are:

  • Do you change locks between tenants?
  • How long do tenants usually stay?
  • What are the most common complaints from tenants?
  • What are the maintenance policies? Will they cover repairs on provided appliances without a fee?
  • Who should you contact if you encounter a problem?

If you want, you can also ask about the age of appliances and how frequently the carpets are replaced.

At this stage, you want to be an apartment complex’s harshest critic.

Finding An Apartment: Part II
Could it be love?

Look at other units to see how residents tend to live. Are balconies and doorways clean and trim, or litter-strewn? Also pay attention to the lawn maintenance. Is it overgrown or does it look regularly maintained? Is the area well lit with street lights and parking lot lights? Is it the sort of place you’d feel safe walking through at night? As I mentioned in the last post, it’s also a good idea to drive by the complex during different hours of the day to see what the activity is like.

If you’re the sociable type, definitely try to chat with some of the current residents about what life is like there.

If you like the place, it seems safe, and everything financial seems on the up and up, and your friend hasn’t found anything to worry about, go ahead and apply.

Good Luck.

Spinsterly Reads: Ann Pachett

The American Spinster Review of Ann Pachett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

I first heard of this book sitting in my car listening to NPR. I was on my lunch break from the grocery store, where I worked with some of the best co-workers I’d ever had. All but one were married women, and even the unmarried one planned to have a husband and children one day. Any spinster-by-choice knows what it’s like to be friends with moms-by-choice. There’s a gap of understanding that, no matter how fond you are of each other, will never really close.

So, that day, waiting for my 30 minute break to be up, I turned on the car radio. The NPR program had only just started. Though I’d never heard of Ann Patchett before then, after listening for just a few minutes I knew I had to read this book.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of non-fiction essays, articles, and speeches written by novelist Ann Patchett. Don’t let the title fool you; Patchett may include the story of a happy marriage, but the book is also largely about being a happy, unmarried, independent woman. From a young age, Patchett saw most marriage around her ending in divorce. Throughout the articles, she describes her family history of divorce (her parents were each divorced at least once, her grandparents, and even great-grandparents had been divorced), the divorces of her friends’ parents, and her own divorce (her first marriage lasted a very difficult 14 months). Ultimately, she realized the only way to “beat the system” was to never marry.

In the titular story, Patchett recounts the 11-year courtship that ultimately led to her second marriage. It may be the story of a happy marriage, but it’s also, in some ways, a blueprint to having a happy relationship. “[N]ot being married had saved us. Had I said yes to Karl’s initial proposal… I don’t think we would have made it. By not living together, we could fight and then step away to cool off. I would think at least we’re not married, which is so much better than thinking, I can’t stay married to you.”

Despite the fact that her boyfriend Karl had wanted to marry her from the outset, she remained firm. “[H]ow could I, who carried divorce in my veins all the way back to Denmark, be absolutely positive that it wouldn’t happen this time? … no matter how much I loved Karl, I wasn’t naive. And I wasn’t getting married.”

Of course, they do get married, after 11 years. They marry because they learn that he has a terminal heart condition. As a spouse, Patchett would be able to care for him and make decisions that she couldn’t make as a girlfriend. She sells her house, they marry, and she laments not marrying long ago, before the love of her life was dying. It was Karl who assures her that it was “exactly the right time.”

Other stories in the book speak to the childfree woman. Patchett writes about her dog, Rose, and how she doted on her. She kept pictures of Rose in her wallet, stayed home with her all day, left her with a baby sitter when she needed to run errands. Patchett writes,

“Look at that,” people said, looking at me but not Rose. “Look how badly she wants a baby.”

A baby? I held up my dog for them to see, my bright, beautiful dog. “A dog,” I said. “I’ve always wanted a dog.” The truth is, I have no memory of ever wanting a baby. I have never peered longingly into someone else’s stroller. I have, on occasions too numerous to list, bent down on the sidewalks to rub the ears of strange dogs, to whisper to them about their limpid eyes.

Others insisted that she really wanted a baby, sometimes going so far as to suggest she simply didn’t realize that’s what she was really yearning for. In the NPR program, Patchett uses the analogy of missing keys.

It would be like if somebody said, “Your car keys are in the drawer.” And you go and you open the drawer, and not only are your car keys not in the drawer, there’s nothing in the drawer. The drawer is empty. And you come back and you say, “The keys aren’t in the drawer.” And they say, “no go back and look again. They are in the drawer.” And you go back and you open the drawer and it is empty. And that’s how I always felt. Like people were always saying to me, “Go back and look again. Examine the inner contents of your heart, you will find it.” And I never did.

For the happily unmarried, happily childfree woman, reading Patchett’s collection is like finding a kindred spirit. At last, someone who understands! Someone who realizes that I’m not in denial, I’m not afraid. I just don’t want what I’m supposed to want.

Although the book at times seems like an unusual combination of autobiography and instructional essays, it’s a captivating look at the author’s life. Perhaps its fitting that the topics vary so widely, since in Patchett’s life, business and home life, personal journeys and public publications, are so closely entwined. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage will be a welcomed read for anyone who is happily unmarried, or happily childfree, but is also a wonderful introduction to the spinster lifestyle for those who are uninitiated. I recommend reading it, and I recommend giving it to friends and family who don’t yet believe that anyone can be truly happy in this lifestyle. Ann Patchett makes our case well.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage at IndieBound

Spinster How-To: Finding An Apartment

American Spinster How-To: Your First Apartment

Part I: Finding The Right One

So it’s time to move out. Or at least, you want it to be time. Deciding  on a place to live can be overwhelming. You don’t want to settle for the first empty unit in Cracktown, but you also don’t want to blow your monthly income on what appears to be the only safe place in town. You may have also heard stories about people getting swindled by shady apartment managers.

How do people do it?

Spinster How-To: Finding An Apartment
So many options…

First, research your options. Look at every apartment complex in your city (or the city you plan to live in). Go to their website (if they don’t have a website in this day and age, be wary). As you’re looking, make note of the following:

  • Floor plan options and their prices
  • Location
  • Application Fees
  • Lease Terms
  • Pet Rules (even if you don’t have one, it’s good to know how the apartment managers view them
  • Income Requirements

Floor Plans
Most apartment complexes have a few different floor plans at different price points. Make a list of the square footage or other important features (such as whether they have patios/balconies, how many entrances, etc), as well as the monthly rent.


Spinster How-To: Finding An Apartment
How’s the neighborhood?

The biggest concerns with the location are crime and noise. Use a website like Crime Reports to see the crime rate of an area. It’s also a good idea, if you’re able, to drive through the complex at different times of the day, to get an idea of the neighborhood. Are people partying? Are their kids bicycling around? Drug deals (seriously, learn to spot this). The distance from your job is, of course, another factor when looking at locations.

Application Fees
Most places will require an application fee from you. Generally this is just to cover the cost of a background check and to ensure that uninterested parties don’t waste their time. But do be careful; if the application fee is unusually high, and they won’t tell you whether or not there’s a unit available, you might be out the fee and have nothing to show for it.

Lease Terms
What kinds of leases do they offer? Generally, a 6 month or month-to-month lease will cost more per month than a full year lease. Also find out what their policies are should you have to break your lease.

Pet Rules
Spinster How-To: Finding An ApartmentIf you have a pet, it’s important that you know whether or not they’re allowed, the rules if they are allowed, and how much extra it’ll cost you. Most places charge an additional fee, additional monthly rent, or both. If you’re thinking about sneaking a pet in, consider that – at some places – that’s considered a violation of the lease, and if you’re caught, you could be evicted or owe a hefty fine.


Income Requirements
Virtually all apartment complexes will require proof of income, and you generally need to prove you make 3 or 3.5 times your monthly rent. If you’re like me, this sounds crazy, because rent will be by far the biggest drain on your income. Some places will take your savings into account, or may cut you a break if you can show them that you’re non-rent expenses are minimal, and your employment status is stable.

Paying close attention to these 6 items can save you a lot of time and narrow your options to the ones that’ll suit you best.

Next week’s Part II will go over what to do once you’ve found the place you want.