With May and June approaching all too quickly yet again, we have officially reached the beginning of apartment hunting season in the Boston area. With colleges and internships coming to a close, the annual apartment-shuffle is about to drive people into unique desperation, leading us to ask ourselves such questions as, “Is my current place really that great?”, “Couldn’t I afford a little more space?”, and “How bad could living some place like Woburn really be?”.
Having been through all of these questions myself over each of the past five years (Yes, No, and Very), I see myself as somewhat of an expert when it comes to moving season. Since I’m staying put, I figure I can use my extra time to help others consider what is really important when looking for a new place: Food, or more specifically how your apartment will affect your relationship with food.
This being said, there are two major factors to consider in this regard. The first is location: Where is that awesome 2-bedroom you found on Craigslist with Utilities included? If you answered, “Around the corner from that awesome Diner,” or, “Right next door to this really cool dive bar with cheap late night food,” then go ahead and pull the trigger. However if you found yourself answering differently, like, say, “Across from the gas station by the highway,” or, “Malden,” then you should probably reconsider if you enjoy food as much as I do. It’s true – you can always just venture out a little bit further to find good eats, or hop on the T, but more often than not we all end up relegating to whatever eating establishments happen to be nearby on those lazy Sunday mornings and late Tuesday nights.The more important factor when it comes to food is your kitchen.
The more important factor when it comes to food is your kitchen. When evaluating a kitchen during your first walkthrough of an apartment, there are a few major factors that you should consider. First and most obvious would be the appliances. How much space do they take up? Are they new, old or ancient? Is the stove gas or electric? You don’t want appliances so large they make your kitchen feel cramped or tiny, because it’s important to enjoy the place where you cook. And while old appliances are certainly not a deal breaker for me, I prefer to at least use something that is intuitive and doesn’t require matches to start. Finally, when it comes to your stove, you want to go with gas. You can control the heat much better and I honestly believe it is better for your pans, too. The electric stoves might look newer and seem easier to use, but the lingering heat factor makes them harder to cook on, whereas the immediate reduction in surface heat offered by gas stoves is a safer bet.
The next factor to consider is counter space and cabinet space. This will be key going forward, as you will use that counter when chopping, stirring, pouring, plating and the like. It’s important to be able to spread out and have all of your supplies laid out in proper spots and ready to go when undertaking a major recipe. As far as cabinets go, you want to have enough space to fit everything you need while maintaining an organized feel. You want to know where everything is and be able to grab it quickly when you need it, instead of having to dig through cramped cabinets to find your favorite spices before your food gets cold.
Finally, you want to consider how easy or difficult your kitchen will be to clean. What material is the counter? If it’s a laminate, it might not be as nice to look at, but it will be very easy to clean and sterilize. Wood or granite countertops take more time to clean, but look nicer, so it all depends on what matters more to you. The last thing to consider in this regard is the sink and dishwasher, or lack thereof. If the apartment has a dishwasher, make sure it works properly and won’t flood your floors – this happens all too often, especially in “value” apartments. If the apartment does not have a dishwasher, make sure the sink is big enough to really do dishes in. You don’t want to cook in a place that’s impossible to clean afterwards.
Remember, you can’t make up for lost meals, so keep these factors in mind when choosing your next apartment. You don’t want to be haunted by memories of soggy pizza and Applejacks for dinner in your old age. I hope that these guidelines help all the aspiring foodies out there as they prepare for the Great Apartment Shuffle of 2013!