HOMEGIRL: Southern Hospitality

My life has changed like the wind. One month ago I wrote a post about my new found distaste for Atlanta, saying how funny I felt about moving there from my beloved New York. How something didn’t feel right- rent was too high, gas was too high and the job market was funny.

Well God has presented a new opportunity to me and guess where that opportunity is located? ATLANTA! That’s right boys and girls, after all that, I ended up in Atlanta anyway. But my feelings are still the same, something still isn’t right. Is it the lack of diversity? Is it the competitive nature of the dating scene (ATL so many beautiful, successful women), the fear of dating a man that really likes boys on the low? All of these are new issues, but I still think rent is higher than it should be. But at least gas prices have gone down, so I feel a little relief at the pump.

After three prior trips to Atlanta, I felt I had narrowed down the areas where I wanted to live. So on my forth trip, I only scheduled to see three places. Afterall, I did find one place I liked on the previous trip, so that would be plan B. I liked all of the places I saw, but the last one was the winner. It was beyond my wildest dream. It was smaller than I originally wanted, but all the amentities made it worth every dollar (European soaking tub, here I come!) But I fell in love hard and fast, only to get heart broken just as hard and fast.

I immediately turned in my application and waited, and waited. I returned to NY praying I was going to get this place. I visualized my furniture in this apartment and all the decorating I would do. Then I got the call. The property manager said that my credit was in issue which I didn’t understand. Dude, I have like a 700 FICO score, how can my credit be an issue? The Property Manager brings up a late payment from almost two years ago. He can’t be serious. I had given this man every bit of info I could to get this place, damn near a pint of blood, to show that I could pay and there would be no problems. Since this was a condo being rented out, the property manager tells me it’s out of his hands and will present my application to the owner. I faxed even more info to make my case. But I knew it was all a waste.

See, from the first time I called to view the apartment, the property manager was not nice. And the following two times we spoke after weren’t much better. But when he called and left a final message stating that my “derogatory credit” is still an issue and the owner declined, I was devastated.

I have worked hard to get my credit right, I am debt free, cut off all cards that I did not use and have my credit report monitored. So what was this man talking about? Maybe he didn’t like where I will be working?

“Zoe, its because you are black,” my mother said. No way, I thought. That doesn’t make any sense, its 2008. Atlanta is nothing but black folks. Besides, I never met the property manager. “But you sound black on the phone,” my mother said.

“I do?” I said. I don’t think I ever thought of that. A friend of mine agreed. So I thought about the neighborhood and the people I saw around there. Maybe Mommy was right. That just made me more sad.

So what do I do now? Well, after I felt sorry for myself for a day, I decided to go with my second choice. A really nice place in downtown Atlanta which happens to be super close to my job. I did not remember all the details about the place, but I remembered I liked it and the property manager was nice to me. So I called her, faxed my application, and three hours later I was approved. This was too easy, especially for a place I can buy after one year- I would think they would have been more restrictive. No documentation was requested, I could have said I was the president and it would not have matter. I was offering documentation and the property manager said, “don’t send me anything unless I ask for it.” She never did.

So here I am with beautiful hardwoods, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a bathroom with double sinks and an oversized tub, gated parking, a poolside private patio, a dishwasher and central air (New Yorkers will understand why the last two amenities were mentioned). This place is nicer than I remembered. Though I am very happy in my new place, I can’t help but to reflect on my interesting apartment hunting experience. For whatever reason, I was kicked out of the running for that apartment-something I would expect in New York, not Atlanta. So the lesson is to not have expectations just because you are in a different area. Every city has its s#*t.

But for now I have the new city blues. I miss my friends, NY shopping, NY eating and NY being. But Atlanta is my home now, issues and all. So I better get used to it, even the homeless people asking me for money in the meat section of the grocery store. Oh hell nah! THAT, I’m not going to stand for!


If you like Zoe’s tips, check out the rest of her HOMEGIRL posts here.

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