Downsizing: Let The Apartment Renter Beware – The Bad Rental Agent

picture of nuclear cooling towere steam above trees

Now you don’t see it…

When I was a young kid growing up in New York, my family and I went on an outing to tour a recently-opened nuclear power plant. I believe it was the Indian Point Energy Center, but I’m not sure. In short, I was not brought up to fear nuclear energy.

Flash forward to this past summer, 2016.

Bob and I were spending days at a time scouring the Philadelphia suburbs to find an apartment to move to. Our daughter, who is here in grad school, said it would be nice to have us nearby. We were downsizing, and thought it would be lovely to take her up on her invitation.

We made several extended visits to our daughter so we could find the best apartment for us and our two dogs. We found one enticing listing located about 45 minutes away – if taking the back roads. We thought it was probably further away than we wanted, but we put it on our list of “apartments to visit” anyway.

When looking at new apartments and towns, I like to take the back roads rather than the highways. This way I can get a better idea of where a town is actually located in relation to our daughter’s place. On this particular day, we drove for what seemed like hours. Eventually we ended up driving through large expanses of farmland. To me, it felt like we possibly had reached the ends of the earth. It was beautiful – just too rural for my taste.

The car navigator announced that we were six minutes away from our destination. I found that amusing since it truly seemed that we were in the middle of nowhere. I did find the countryside beautiful, but I just couldn’t see driving through it on any consistent basis. I was instructed by the navigator to make a quick left turn, and so I dd.

And then … I saw them … there in the near distance!

Picture of steam from Limrik Nuclear power plant

Now you do!
Well…it wasn’t this close.

I’m speaking about the two undeniable active cooling towers from a nuclear power plant that suddenly jumped into view!

Uh, oh.

Actually, it was quite funny. It would have been more likely to have encountered a purple cow at this point. Who would have expected this seemingly remote farmland to be so close to a nuclear power plant?

We continued on to the apartment development, which was actually in a large town. The rental agent was quite lovely, and I thought represented the complex very well. Within no time, we felt right at home, making small talk with the agent about New York City. We learned that the rental agent had lived in this town since her birth. “Such a great place to live,” was the message. And we were happy to hear it.

But, I thought, someone has to address the elephant in the room.

“Are those smokestacks from a nuclear power plant?” I suddenly asked.

The amicable rental agent answered coyly, “I don’t think so.”

Silently, I thought, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” Out loud I simply offered, “Oh, they do look like cooling towers.”

Unfortunately, we had already pretty much decided that the apartment was further away than we wanted to be from our daughter. But it was nice. It was a spacious two-bedroom apartment that had a modern kitchen, was sun-filled, and had just enough architectural features to be interesting. And the price was right too. In fact, it was the nicest apartment we had seen so far. We wanted to be persuaded.

Back at the office, our agent excused herself for a moment to find out some answers for us, from her central office, regarding fees. When she returned, she gave us the info we requested. And then she volunteered that she had checked, and yes, it was indeed a nuclear power plant next door. Maybe she had also been checking on her legal obligation to disclose the truth to potential tenants. A life-long resident surely would have known the facts.

That night, at our daughter’s apartment, I researched that particular power plant in Limerick. It seems it had been quite well received by the town. In fact, potassium Iodide tablets were being given away free to area residents who lived or worked within a 10-mile radius of the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. Imagine that. (In the event of a nuclear mishap, taking potassium iodide can prevent thyroid cancer.)

We decided, no matter what we thought about nuclear power, there was really no need to move so far away, just to end up next door to a nuclear power plant.

The merits of nuclear energy can be left up to public debate. What is not up for debate, though, is this:  The rental agent who tried to mislead us about the nuclear power plant, was far more of a deterrent to us to moving there than the nuclear power plant ever was.

Lesson learned: When deciding on an apartment, do your research.

Submitted by Laura

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