In Which I Learn That My Dream Apartment Might Be Affordable

lego apartment flickrI go walking a lot. Nearly every evening, for about four miles. Part of this is to convince my Fitbit to give me more virtual badges, because gamification works; part of this is because I live in a maybe-12-foot-across apartment and if I don’t find excuses to walk I will never take more than three steps at a time; and part of this is because I’ve always been a walker, ever since I was in high school gym and our coach gave us the choice of playing basketball or spending 90 minutes walking around the track.

When I go walking, sometimes I like to pick out homes that I might want to live in someday. Sometimes I go so far as to think of those houses or apartment buildings as “mine,” the way that Betsy and Tacy claim the Chocolate-Colored House in Betsy-Tacy or Emily dreams about living in the Disappointed House in the Emily of New Moon books. They aren’t really mine, but they stand in for places I might like to live someday, and when I walk down the street I say hello to them in my head.

There is one particular apartment building that is mine more than any other; it is painted this bright cobalt blue and the windows are all lined up with white sills and muntons, and there is a little penthouse at the top, shaped like a tiny house with its own deck, and when I walk by it I say hello to it in my head, because it is standing in for the place I might like to live someday.

And then, this week, I saw a sign listing apartments for rent and the unit prices, and I realized that I could actually afford to live there.

The starting units are $675, which is what I am already paying for my current apartment. I immediately looked up the building online and discovered that, yes, these are more of Seattle’s famous microapartments, so they aren’t very big, but they do have in-unit kitchenettes and a full kitchen down the hall and common areas, both indoors and outdoors, for socializing.

And I am suddenly thinking of this as a realistic option.

It is funny how fast an idea arranges itself into an idealized future: I could move into one of these apartments, and I would no longer have to wash my dishes in a bucket or use my bed as a food prep area because I’ve seen pictures of the kitchenettes, they have sinks and countertops and cupboards—oh, cupboards, I will no longer have to store my breakfast cereal in the refrigerator—and I could get one of the loft apartments and put my bed in a separate space from the rest of my living area, and then I could designate my desk as an official Working Space That Is Tax Deductible, and I could also buy an iPad and put it upstairs next to the bed so I could watch HBO Now on the iPad and turn my laptop into a dedicated Working Tool That Is Tax Deductible!

These buildings have Internet included as a utility, so that’s $75 knocked off my monthly budget, and they also have common areas, so I could go sit in them and meet other people! There could be grilling involved! Or I could go into the big kitchen and bake a batch of cookies and then leave them there under pink Saran Wrap with a Post-it note shaped like a strawberry that reads “Enjoy! From Nicole.”

This is all perfect, right? And because the rent is comparable to my current rent, it won’t cost me much more than what I’m currently paying!

Then reality arranges itself into a disappointing reminder:

Well, you’ll have to come up with first/last/security in advance… there’s probably an application fee… you will need to take some time off for the physical packing and moving of your possessions which means losing more money… you might need to pay for moving-related supplies… you’ll have to change your address at the Post Office… 

In terms of cash outlay, figuring out how to pay first/last/security is always the hardest part of moving, at least for me. The cost of the moving process is also prohibitive enough that I always think “in the end, won’t it make just as much financial sense to stay where I am?”

It also means that I’ll need to reconfigure my budget again, the one that I literally just reconfigured, and that feels so dispiriting because I had a plan, and it was a workable plan, and I would have liked to try it out for more than a month or so.

But I think, after I mail in my taxes and look at my finances again, I need to set an appointment to see one of these apartments.

It doesn’t mean I’ll move there, it just means I’ll get to visit a place I’ve already mentally claimed as my own, and see what it looks like from the inside.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Photo credit: Bill Ward (cropped)

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