College off-campus housing is getting nicer, said no one, ever

My wife and I left Los Angeles and moved back to our college town, Athens, Ohio, for the fall semester. A few months ago we sent a friend to scout out a home for us. She looked at the place we’re currently at and reported back that it was rough around the edges, but (and I agree with this) if the current tenants and landlord clean the place up by the time we arrive, it would make a nice apartment.

Well, they didn’t.

When we arrived, the only thing that apparently had been cleaned was the refrigerator. The floors maybe got a quick mop and vacuum. The windows, walls, bathroom and kitchen were a mess. I have lived in some terrible off-campus housing at Ohio University, and this is by far the worst.

With a lot of help from our parents, we cleaned the place up and moved in our furniture. It took over 10 hours of sweat and even a little blood. Not to mention the extra coin we threw down on cleaning implements. It’s livable now, although as of this writing our front door is broken and our toilet has no water shut-off lever. But our apartment is no longer the horror show it once was so please don’t be sad for us. We’re fine. I just had to document the perfect combination that is students who trash housing and the landlords who do not clean up after them.

This is my wife. We are happy that we are back in Athens. We are sad that the apartment we have rented looks like the set of a “Saw” movie.

What’s that? Oh, that’s just a hole in our living room wall stuffed with wire and newspaper. Probably to keep all the poltergeists out.

This is where part of the living room wall tried to escape from the house.

This is a stain on the floor from when our apartment was used as a fight club.

When removing a poster, the key thing is to remove as much paint as possible. Fine work right here.

Had to send the wife out to get shaving cream for the windowsills.

Probably just a dent from when the previous tenant was trying to destroy the building.

If you’re putting in our living room, the floor breaks left to right before sloping gently downward toward the street.

Have I mentioned the views?

In all fairness, the apartment was partially furnished. This piece of art is called, “Dead fly someone killed and was too lazy to scrape off the wall because they’re an asshole.”

Very helpful. Shows us where the blinds would go, if there were any.

Here you can see where the landlord spackled and painted over the hole in the ceiling with duct tape.

The blinds really bring the room together.

One cool thing: the kitchen window is a Picasso.

Must have been installed in 2001. Because this things’s 10 years are up.

Can’t wait to meet the neighbors.

Counter drawers are screwed shut. There is nowhere to put silverware, pots or pans. It’s just like living in the “Arrested Development” house.

Living room ceiling is rife with symbolism.

The bathroom has a definite “put the lotion in the basket vibe,” no?

This was the bathroom light when we moved in. We like it because it’s safe.

This is currently how we turn on cold water in the shower.

This was Chloe’s reaction to her new home.

On the plus side, we found this in the closet.

And we are never, ever giving it back.

Note: I am getting a lot of notes of concern. We will post the after photos sometime in the next week.  It no longer looks like the photos above. In fact, I’d say we’ve upgraded it to meth house chic.


Author: Joe Donatelli

Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles. He publishes The Humor Columnist.

  • Jenny

    The finale of the dog in the corner and the brick are too good.

  • Niki Kelly

    Wow. Feeling pretty bad for you Joe. There wasn’t anything better? I agree on the brick though. Definitely a keeper. Niki

  • We’re OK. The place is now a C-plus instead of an F. We’ll look back and laugh.

  • None of this was staged. That’s exactly where I found her.

  • Ha! Once again my family wonders why I sit over here in the corner and laugh out loud. Two words: Joe Donatelli. I laughed loudest at poor little Chloe, probably hiding from the demons she sees in the bathroom. All I can say is, it’s good that you guys have a sense of humor. And at least there’s an RN in the neighborhood. No doubt she’s made a visit to the purple rain house. This adventure is one of those “how strong is your marriage” tests people talk about. Keep those fun engagement photos handy. Maybe a collage near the poltergeist hole to ward off evil spirits.

  • My wife is a rock. Not one of the rocks we found in the living room, mind you. But symbolically, a rock.

  • Ugh! This is one of those places Realtors describe as having “tons of potential for creative people.” Sorry.

  • Chad Conant

    I’m guessing 70 W. state wasn’t available.

  • I think it reverted back to nature.

  • Exactly, Judy. Also good for those who love the outdoors.

  • Brian Huntington

    Odds that “Purple Rain” is a reference to a weed strain and not the Prince classic?

  • High.

  • Almost peed myself over the “put the lotion in the basket vibe” line. The wrench faucet handle gives me the serious creeps. Meth house chic sounds very Breaking Bad!

  • That’s what we’re going for. We want you to think Walter White might walk in at any moment and start kicking ass.

  • Sharon

    OMG, looks like some off-post housing when hubby was in the Army. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you don’t get tetanus or ebola from touching things.

  • Ha. Thanks, Sharon. Luckily we did not have any ordinance with us on Saturday.

  • Kee Kee Buckley

    The brick is an absolute score! I hope the three of you can make it a home quickly…and then share your “after” photos with us.

  • We will. Jen wants to get some living room furniture first. We have about enough space for an ottoman. Will post when we do.

  • Pax

    Hahaha! Dawg, that place is awesome!

  • It is, as they say, a fixer-upper.

  • Danielle

    It’s the bathroom that gets me, along with Chloe’s obvious fear of it all.

  • Chloe has adjusted. She is back to being the world’s least-terrifying guard dog.

  • Ha ha. Thanks.

  • You’re leaving LA? No!

  • I am dying about the old pizza in the oven. Hilarious, Lisa.

  • Sadly, yes.

  • Dave Pavlina

    I have to ask…who’s this “friend” that found this place for you?? Are you still on good terms?

  • The friends is cool. She described the place accurately. What we didn’t know was that the previous tenant and landlord would not clean it. It would have made a world of difference, as our place is now, to quote my wife, cute.

  • We don’t know. We may never know.

  • David Summers

    Hi Joe,

    My dad wrote a poem about that brick of yours when he taught English at O.U.  It was a long time ago.  I hope it makes you feel better:

    “The Winter Walks in Athens, Ohio” by Hollis Summers

    Some bricks in the walks of Athens, Ohio,
    Are marked with ‘Athens, Ohio,’
    Encouraging students and other pedestrians
    To pretend to belong where they go.

    Some feet echo comfort in Athens, Ohio,
    Moving from ‘Athens’ to ‘Athens’
    While firmly ensconced in Athens, Ohio,
    No matter how studiously pedestrian.

    Perhaps I should mention that harsh winds blow
    In passing through Athens, Ohio,
    And some bricks are nameless, I know,
    And some are crippled in Athens.

    David Summers
    Athens High School ’67

  • I just recently read that poem in a book about the history of Ohio University. I have now liked it both times I read it. Thanks, David.

  • Barrisimpson

    I guarantee my husband’s house he lived in on Moore Ave (which was next door to the OU Credit Union) was MUCH worse in condition until his Dad/landlord had the whole place bulldozed when he sold it to the Credit Union after he graduated with furniture, dishes, etc all inside!  Nothing was worth saving except the century old mantle and stained glass window we still have…aaahhh the memories of 37 Moore Avenue…if only we had an Athens brick too!  Enjoy!

  • Do you have photos of this Housing Don’t?

  • laura richards

    I am pretty sure I toured that house in 1997 as a possible rental. I passed.

  • You chose wisely.