I Put Down a Holding Deposit On an Apartment

girls apartment hunt

So I put down a holding deposit on a one-bedroom apartment today.

Rent is $995 a month, which is $320 more than the $675 I’m currently paying for my tiny studio. I’m going to take some time to reconfigure my monthly overhead cost; it’s going to be more than the $1,500 overhead that I’ve currently budgeted for rent, bills, transportation, and food, but it might not be that much more.

As with my current apartment, utilities (except for electricity) are included, so I don’t have to worry about that. I might pay a little more on transportation, because part of getting a good one-bedroom apartment for $995—and believe me, I saw a few junkers—is being a little further out from the center of things. So I bet I’ll be riding a few more buses. I am thinking about getting a bike, but I am also thinking about falling off a bike repeatedly.

Food is going to be the interesting variable. I will have a real kitchen of my own for the first time since May 2012. (There was a kitchen in the Los Angeles group house where I slept on the floor, but only two of the stove burners worked and we were highly encouraged to use the toaster oven instead of the real one.) I am very curious whether having a kitchen means I’ll spend more or less on food.

The last time I had a kitchen, in my Washington DC apartment, I pretty much always had a soup or stew in the slow cooker, and I baked a loaf of no-knead bread every Sunday. It wasn’t that labor intensive, really; certainly it didn’t take any more time than washing my dishes in a bucket every night. So that could be the sort of thing I get back into, instead of paying $4 per box of Simple Truth Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque.

So my mind is churning with “but what if I could cut my food budget… in half?” I know I need to follow Marian Call’s example and get exact costs of everything, not just mental imaginings of a life full of oatmeal breakfasts in Mason jars. (Not that food costs don’t change daily.) I also know that I won’t really be able to understand my complete budget and overhead cost until I’ve been in this new apartment for at least three months.

That’s the scary piece about this move—I’m not going to know what it costs until I’m fully into it.

The other scary piece is that you never really know whether you’re trading a stable situation for an unstable one. It’s like changing jobs; how often have we read stories about people who turned in a two-week notice in exchange for a better job, only to get laid off a few months later? (The Billfold ran one of those stories literally this morning.) Or it’s like my friend who had to move out of two different apartments within a year because the respective landlords both sold their buildings.

But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from the Seattle apartment hunt, it’s that you can find another place in an afternoon, if you are the first person to the apartment after the listing posts. I turned down three places before I picked this one.

So why did I pick this apartment? It had a front hallway. I mean, it’s also in a secure building in a quiet neighborhood, etc. etc. etc. but I walked in the door and I saw the hallway and the dedicated coat closet, and the little row of black iron hooks next to the door for purses and jackets, and I just felt like it was the most grown-up thing ever.

Feel free to tell me that I am wasting square footage on transitional spaces. I will reply with “I have a closet just for coats. I know I am going to fill it with other stuff, like Christmas ornaments, but this is an apartment designed for a person who likes order and has also listened to too many Judge John Hodgman episodes about how the hallway is the entry to the home.”

I still have to sign the lease, of course. Then, I have to figure out how to move.



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