Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it, too: “renting an apartment is the same anywhere you go.” Not precisely. The market is a little different in each locale, due to a variety of factors. Here are some of the unique features of renting in Lex:
Orientation: The main commercial hubs are Downtown and the University of Kentucky area—which, obviously, has more of a younger, studenty feel than Downtown. If you wanna live outside of these two sectors, you’d better have a car. (Sorry, Butch Cassidy. Ye olde steed is an acceptable form of transportation only outside the urban county.) Keeneland Racecourse is west out Versailles Rd.; you’ll likely be heading out there for either the spring or fall meets. (Everybody does.) The bypass forms a solid city boundary, but things begin to feel suburbanish way before that. Moral of the story? Live as close in as possible, but be prepared to pay a premium.
Utilities: The winters are mild here, but budget some extra cash for cooling in the summer. Dang, it gets humid in this town. Subtropical? Methinks definitely. Keep your windows closed. The good news is there’s an uncommon percentage of landlords willing to pay your bills.
Leases: Call it old-fashioned, but most Lexington apartment managers and landlords are into bargaining. No, not on the price, but on the length of the lease. If you’re willing to commit, you might just get utilities, parking, and all sorts of other perks thrown in. Most landlords won’t air this info, so you’ll need to beef up your confidence and ask outright. It cuts both ways, too: a typical lease in Lex is a year, but if you present yourself as trustworthy, you may be able to talk your guy into a month-to-month situation. (Tell ‘em it’s for tax filing purposes…)
Got your bearings? Alright. One by one, now—the only hoods worth mention.
Downtown: Feels like Henry Clay is still alive down here. Everything’s old. Well, everything except those skyscrapers. Oh, and that fenced-off city block of grass. What an eyesore. Anywho, Lex’s Downtown is comparatively inexpensive compared to other inner urban centers. Modest (600 sq. ft.), renovated studio apartments right off Vine St. run around $500/month. If you need more space, $650/month will get you 800 square feet and $800/month will get you granite countertops and a $250 nonrefundable pet fee (!!).
Bohemia thrives on the margins, right? If you can manage not being in the thick of it (and, perhaps, waiting a few years for things to pick up), check out some of the areas adjacent to Downtown. For instance, the newly rejuvenated Distillery District is bringing lots of action to Manchester St. And on either side of Transy there’s a good dive bar and rad townhome options. (These are usually 2BR or 3BR and run slightly higher—due to the proximity to Downtown—than similar options in the UK area.)
UK/Arboretum: Beware of listings that claim to be “close to the university”; this usually means they’re a mile or more from campus. That said, if you want a quieter scene there are some gems to be found. Most older colonial-style homes have studios attached to them which their owners are willing to rent to youngsters. But if you’re after proximity, there’s enough to pick from directly adjacent to the UK behemoth. Expect lots of houseshares ($350/month or less for a room) in duplexes. Also, condos: luxury units typically have longer leases (sometimes up to two years). Don’t pay over $500/month for 1BR/1BA unless it’s regal. And if you’re really strapped, hunt down a few roommies. 3BR/2BAs rarely top over $1000/month.
Feel settled? Not until you sport that seersucker suit at Keeneland for the first time will you truly feel like a local. Remember who made it possible when those winnings start rollin’ in!