Sunday, August 11, 2013

Apartment life (plus some gratuitous baby pictures)

This month we got notice that our rent is jumping up about 20 percent; J's going to be graduating in the next few months; we're in a one-bedroom with a baby.  In other words, we'll probably be moving sometime in the foreseeable future, which feels like a huge deal to me because moving = the worst, and also because the place we live now is probably my favorite place we've lived since we got married.

Right now we live in a rented condo, and even the small tweak in our normal pattern of apartment living feels like it makes the situation different.  Usually in an apartment complex everyone is moving in and out regularly enough that no one knows their neighbors, but in our building everyone else owns their own condos and has lived here for like twenty years, so we've gotten to know our neighbors and I really love that.  I'll miss it.   Anyway, I'm not that interested in buying a house (ball and chain amirite) anytime soon, and my bank account/career path is REALLY not interested in it, so.  I've been starting to half-heartedly peruse Craiglist in search of The Next Place To Schlep My Billions Of Books I Regret Each Time We Move.  And also thinking about apartment life in general.
Apropos of that, here are the things I love about living in an apartment:

1.  Maintenance.  I really, REALLY love being able to just call someone to fix whatever breaks.
2.  Not being tied down to a location (or, at least, a micro-location, since though we might move intra-Bay-Area, I doubt we'll leave this area anytime soon).  Commuting = the worst.
3.  Crowdedness.  I actually really like having people around all the time and neighbors in very close proximity.  I also love being able to live close to downtown streets and businesses (particularly ones that are open twenty-four hours a day; see item 6).
4.  Minimal decision-making.  The thought of picking, like, paint colors or roof tiles or whatever stresses me out.  Actually, the thought of any home-related decision stresses me out.
5. Ease of finances.  I still couldn't hazard a guess as to what "escrow" means, but I can handle dropping a check in the mail once a month.
6.  Smallness of your living area.  I can't really picture what I'd do with three or four times as much square footage; sometimes when I go to my parents' house it feels confusingly enormous to me, even though half the time when I was living there it felt too small/like I could go nowhere to have some quiet.  Also, the over-paranoid part of me that goes into overdrive when jolted awake likes being able to get up at night and check that there's nothing terrifying going on in any of the rooms; having only two real rooms facilitates that happening much more quickly.  Also, something creeps me out about doors to the outside that are really far away.  Did I mention I like having neighbors in close proximity at all hours?
7.  Not having a yard to like weed and rake and mow and generally think about, although this one's a mixed bag, because it would be a a fun place for a slightly older child (NEVER GROW UP AUDREY I CAN'T TAKE IT) to play.  But parks are nice too, although they require more supervision.
Things common to apartments that I either don't love/would love to find a way around in the next place we live:

1.  Lack of community.
2.  Worrying my baby's crying is irritating neighbors (although luckily so far Audrey is super mellow and never really just screams for hours on end; she's generally extremely consolable, and I'm really grateful for that.  I hear this is how you get tricked into having a second baby who might turn out to be a demon-child, though).
3.  No space for visitors to stay with us, although that obviously could be remedied by getting a bigger apartment
4.  The rental prices in the Bay Area are seriously insane (market rate is like $1800/month for a one-bedroom right now in my town; on the plus side, buying a home isn't actually a wiser decision financially, so no pressure there).  Plus the constant nagging fear that your rent's going to go up.
5.  Parking situations.
6.  Lack of in-unit washer and dryers (we do have one now and it's the greatest thing ever/I think probably four or five times a week how much I love that).  It's rare around here.
7.  Noisy maintenance-type activities (nails pounding, demolition, jackhammering, etc.) that make too much noise during my delicate writer-schedule.  
8.  Impermanence.  I would put up with kind of a lot to never have to move again.

What's your living situation like?  Would you recommend it?


  1. Audrey is gorgeous :)

    We rented a basement suite for years (I lived there almost 6 years!) which was amazing. We had fantastic landlords upstairs who brought us down delicious dinners and treats on a regular basis. She picked up eggs from a local farm and brought them down to us. It was fantastic. It was small though and we were jam packed in the house.

    When T took the job transfer to Calgary, we bought a 1200sq ft bungalow with a 1000 sq ft basement (finished). It's by far the largest place I've lived in as an adult but it's small compared to the new houses that are being built (friends just moved into a 3600 sq ft house).

    Pros to having a small space for us is that we regularly purge stuff that we don't need to keep around and there is less space to clean. As it is, it takes us a good half day to really scrub the place so I can only image such a huge house in terms of cleaning.
    Cons? Renting is WAY easier. When I rented, I felt so much pressure to buy a house because it's the grown up thing to do. But seriously, T and I both agree, renting was way less stress and WAY less money. A house is a big huge money pit. We are constantly doing work on everything under the sun. It's exhausting. It is nice that it's mine (well, technically I think it's still 80% the banks....) but I would go back to renting in a heart beat.

    Anyways. This was the longest comment of all time. Perhaps I should start blogging again so I don't leave a blog post in your comments.

    Did I mention Audrey is gorgeous? ;)

  2. I agree with your list. The hubby and I lived in Florida prior to our move to the Bay Area and we lived in a 2400 sqft that we rented. It was a massive pain to clean. To clean the living room, kitchen and front rooms on the first floor was a NIGHTMARE and it took me 3 hours. Luckily, our landlord hired our neighbor to deal with the yard work so we didn't have to worry about that. But, if we did, we probably would have been that neighbor with the 5 ft tall grass.

    Once we moved out here, we ended up settling near the Ikea, but had to deal with 5-15% rental increases every year. A far cry from our rent in Florida. We love our 2/2 at just under 1100 sqft and don't see ourselves moving anytime soon. We love the area, but rental prices are increasing and we may eventually price out of this location and will have to consider living somewhere else.

    We've considered buying in this area, but to find something comparable to what we're renting for under $400k is near impossible. Which is insane because $400k in FL can buy a 3,000 sqft mini-mansion. It would be ideal for us to find a rental in which we can live indefinitely and not have to deal with an astronomical increase every year.

    I hope you're able to find a rental community that you love! Audrey is getting cuter everyday!

  3. Wow, that's quite a jump in rent! I'm sorry you have to deal with that :(
    We lived in several apartments, and now I can't imagine living in a complex again now that we have 1 baby, (and 1 on the way!). If we hadn't bought our house, we might have at least rented a house instead. I'm not sure how common that is where you are, but there are several rental homes in our area. They are usually specially near the local universities, so you do have to deal with that.
    The major issues I had with our last apartment was 1) we had noisy/rude neighbors, 2) we were having security issues that were scary at times, and 3) our managers were not as nice/helpful as our previous ones. Our apartment before that one was perfect in terms of security, management, and good neighbors. It was just out of the way in terms of work and school, and we had a lot of annoying older kids who would get into trouble in the parking lots. If the location was better, we would have moved to a bigger unit when I got pregnant. However, we needed a better location.
    Hope you find exactly what you need and soon! Also, I always love a gratuitous baby picture :)

  4. Awww, Kelly....LOVE the photos of Audrey. She's a complete sweetheart!

    Sorry you have to move out of your favourite home so far, but there will be another great one on the horizon, I know it!

  5. My husband and I rented in Brooklyn for a few years, and the prices there are pretty similar to what you've listed for SF. There are definitely pro's and con's of both renting and buying but personally, I'm SO happy we finally bought a house. It was a long-term dream of ours.

    One thing on your list that I totally agree with is the size of houses. We're in a pretty small house (only 2 bedrooms), which I like very much because it feels less intimidating for a first house. Not as much to maintain or worry about. And, like you, I like the idea of being able to hear what's going on in other areas of the house! There are certain things I miss about living in the city, but overall I'm happier in the 'burbs.

    I hope you find the perfect rental for you and your family! Audrey is adorable. :)

  6. Audrey is beyond precious - I am so excited for you both! Post pictures away - it's what blog posts are for! <3
    Ugh, a jump in rent is absolutely awful, especially 20%! Prices sound the same as my area, which is why I ended up buying a condo (which in actuality, is a glorified apartment). My mortgage payment is less than a lot the rent that my friends are paying, which works out fairly well, but of course there are always pros and cons (like neighbors, who slam their doors while I'm watching Game of Thrones).
    Good luck with the decision making - you guys will find the most perfect place and it will be hassle free!

  7. yeah, the only time i ever regret my book collection is when wemove... in fact i usually regret having any stuff alltogether and get this urge to throwit all out so i don't have to pack it - sigh

    at the moment i live in a little house on a quiet street in sydney australia. It's next to a beautiful park, close to the centre & station and my family. Soon my husband who has a start up here will move us to the valley/san fran area & i'm dreading it... dreading losing my family & friends & our quality of life...

    move is really the biggest kind of change & like many I hate change - lol. we also just had our first little baby, so moving is that extra bit painful... is there no way to stay in the area you like near this condo? perhaps that's the solution...?

    I really hope you find a fab new home... after all... without change there would be no butterflies...