Kwame Boateng first came to the Storch Woods Apartments in Howard County five years ago to visit a friend. He ended up moving in with the friend and eventually leasing his own two-bedroom apartment in the complex.
"It's sizable," he said, "and I'll tell you, it's safe and it's neat."
And the price, he said, was right.
"I think the price is good compared with other places that they have around here," Boateng said. Rents at the complex begin at $840 a month for a one-bedroom unit.
Price was also a big part of what drew Dare Fisher to Storch Woods, just off U.S. Route 1 in Savage. "At the time, what attracted me the most was the amount of rent," Fisher said.
Fisher, who was a resident of the complex for six years before taking a job there as assistant property manager, was also drawn by the mix of friendly residents who live at the complex -- young, old and of many different races. In fact, Fisher has friends in the complex who were also residents when she was, and she knows of several other apartment dwellers who have been at Storch Woods, managed by Storch Realty Inc., for more than 20 years.
"You get used to a place," she said. "Even though it's an apartment, it becomes a home."
Because it had been her home, it was easy for her to take a job there after a short stint living elsewhere. For example, she knew property manager Bobbie Fairall from when she was a resident.
"But I had to tell my friend who lives here that I'm working here, and we had to keep things to business during the day," Fisher said.
That doesn't mean being unfriendly, though. In fact, part of her job entails getting to know residents and their needs.
"We expend a lot of energy on that," she said.
Boateng agrees that the staff is friendly and accessible.
"Bobbie, she's my girl," he said.
Boateng said he also likes the maintenance workers, some of whom he has gotten to know as they do work on the property and come to his apartment when there's a leak or a window that needs to be fixed.
"They come to you quickly if there's a problem," he said.
The area is quiet, Boateng said, and the grounds are well taken care of. He said he enjoys the pool and often sees children in the complex's small play area. The apartment's location is also convenient.
"The place is good, especially if you've got someone coming from elsewhere," he said. "It's easy to get here -- it's right off I-95."
Storch Woods is also close to a MARC train station and several shopping areas, including Laurel Mall and the Mall in Columbia. Just down the street in Lincoln Center, residents have access to grocery stores and restaurants. Many churches and schools are also nearby, as well as Howard County General Hospital and Laurel Regional Hospital.
"It's definitely close to where I need to go," said Natalie Stefanoff, a missionary. Her church, she said, has paid for her and fellow missionary Hillarie Bodily to rent a two-bedroom apartment. Storch Woods is near the highway, as well as stores, she said.
Bodily said she especially likes the location because they can walk to many places, particularly Savage Mill, which has shops and restaurants.
"It's nice to be close by," she said.
"Our church rents here because it's a safe area with a low rent," Stefanoff said. "Our church keeps the apartment, and we move in and out."
She said she enjoys the pool and also the complex's mix of residents, who are from a variety of backgrounds.
The complex is kept neat, Stefanoff said, and the management is friendly.
"They're nice, and they help us with the things we need."