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Perspectives of Five Women

Home Sweet Home?

Castle Apartments, 2132 2nd Avenue, Belltown, ...

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to move out into my own apartment, and for the last two months I have been actively pursuing that goal.  It’s an emotionally draining process with both ups and downs. Unfortunately, it’s seemed to be mostly downs.

I started in earnest when I returned from the East Coast in late July. I didn’t expect to move in August, but it was good to start looking. My goal was September 1st, then giving me the Labor Day weekend to move in, get settled, and all before school started. Well, that didn’t happen, but it wasn’t my fault. I’d found this beautiful 1 bedroom apartment that takes dogs. It was open and bright and had a HUGE deck that my pup would love to hang out on. I put in my application and application fee, totally in love with the apartment. I got a phone call from the property manager the next day stating that he had rented the apartment to another woman who had seen it the day before me. He offered to mail back or shred my check as he had not cashed it yet. I was heartbroken – I had started to picture myself (and Toby) living in this great place.

It took me a couple of weeks to find another place that I would consider, and it came in the form of a basement apartment about four blocks from my work. It was a little steeply priced, but it included all utilities and I would make up the difference in what I’d save in gas. I contacted the woman and set up a showing. It was in a beautiful old neighborhood in north Seattle and I was really excited. It had its own fenced backyard space and the woman had her own dog, so she was happy to have Toby.  It was a very weird apartment. The kitchen was small but doable, however it had no oven. There was a gas stovetop, but nothing underneath except a cabinet. Okay, weird, but not a deal breaker. I don’t really bake all that much anyway. I continued on into a very small living room. I have a large couch, so this was a bit of a concern. The bedroom, though, was huge. However, there was no closet, so I’d have to get a wardrobe of some sort. The light was still pretty good for being so deep into the basement. The big problem, though, was the bathroom area. A curtain – soon to be replaced by plantation shutters, she said – was all that separated the bedroom from the upstairs access. The apartment’s bathroom was on the other side of those doors, as was her guest bath and the laundry room. She even said that if she had guests over, they’d be using the guest bath. This lack of privacy, especially for an apartment that was at the top of my price range, was not going to work.

I looked at a third place this week. The apartment itself was okay, but the owner was trying to sell it and I really didn’t like the uncertainty of that situation. Another condo came out on Craigslist this weekend, and although I’ve emailed twice and called twice, I cannot get a hold of the manager. She called me back, but we keep missing. Now there’s a new place, two blocks from the one I loved originally, and I’m hoping I can get in touch with someone there.

The whole process has been exhausting. I thought it would be easier to find an apartment here than in Manhattan, but it’s not turning out that way. Hopefully soon, though, I’ll find a place that Toby and I can call home.

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I’ve moved a lot, but adapting to a new city usually wasn’t been too hard. As a kid, moving inserted you into an instant social structure – school. In most cases I was making friends by the first week. My move across the country was the roughest – I was a little lonely in 8th grade (because 8th graders are terrible, horrible, anti-social creatures) but by the time I hit 9th grade I joined a crazy amount of clubs and had lots of friends by the end of the first few months.

College was easy – I went to school in the same town as I had been living in for high school. College wasn’t just high school part 2 though. Many of my friends went to different schools; those who didn’t, for the most part, I still ended up falling out of touch with. However, I was living with my sister and she introduced me to all of her friends and soon they became my own.

The post-college graduation transition wasn’t too bad either. While this was one of my larger moves, from PA to NJ, I moved in with my sister (one might say I’m a mooch) until I got a job and my own apartment. A friend from high school and college moved in with me and my boyfriend wasn’t too far away. The biggest difference with this was move was that I was in a much more urban area than I ever had been previously. Still, with my trusty sister to navigate the way and point me in the right direction to the train, it really wasn’t a hard adaptation. State College, PA had always been too small for my liking so I was happy to be in the thick of things, even if my apartment was infested with mice and felt like it might fall over when a large truck drove by outside.

My final move was from Jersey City, NJ to where I live now in Edison, NJ. This brought me back to the ‘burbs, which necessitated me getting a car not terribly long after moving.  I’m fortunate in that I live within walking distance to the train I need for work, but a car was necessary for getting to a grocery store and such.

*yawn* I’m sorry. I think I’m boring myself writing this. I’ve had a lot of moves, but through the kindness of family and friends, I’ve never really had any major adjustment period or difficult transition. Or maybe I was just too clueless to notice. Whatever the case, it worked for me!

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Ready or Not. Here I Go.

We’ll jump right into it. I GOT A JOB!! I accepted a position of Inventory Manager at a wholesale nursery up in Connecticut a little over a week ago. The way it happened is still so crazy. I randomly met the owner at a trade show while discussing my unemployment with a mutual acquaintance. It really is crazy the way things work out.

I was able to squeeze in the interview a week or so ago before the last blizzard hit up there. I think I posted about it a couple weeks ago (Yeah I did). The day after I wrote that post they e-mailed me an offer. My salary is what I was asking and they’re throwing in a little bit to help with my move. That last bit sent me over the moon. They also understood I need time to relocate so we agreed to set a start date once I figured out when I was moving. We discussed what accessories they might get for me so I could do my job as efficiently as possible. I really felt like I’d found my way to the greener grass on the other side of the fence.

I did some minor apartment hunting before I headed back home for my mom’s retirement party (Yes in the middle of all this my mom retired from the place she’s worked for 31 years. More on that some other week). There was little success on our mini apartment hunt. Most places saying, “It’s weird. Normally we have a bunch of 1 bedroom apartments available but nothing’s open for months.” Of course, that’s because it’s me. I know good positive attitude.

I tried to make it up last week for more hunting but mother nature decided Connecticut need to play with big ice storms for a couple days. I searched what I could from home and found a window of clear weather to go up for an apartment hunting trip. I wasn’t too excited about my options until I stumbled on a random site that featured places for sale and rent. I found a 1 bedroom apartment in a nice area that seemed nice in the pictures that could be a good option. I ended up having just two places to look at when I made my way north.

The first place I went to had multiple one bedrooms to look at. The first smelled funny. Maybe like dirty kitty littter? I couldn’t place it but my chest was tight for a solid five minutes after leaving. The second apartment was ok. Not overly exciting. I thought maybe I can sign a short lease and try again in the summer when the weather is more cooperative.

Then I went to the random apartment I’d stumbled on online. I had made the appointment to see it that morning. It was cute. Out away from the hustle and bustle. The apartment is the converted second floor of an old house from the 1830’s there’s character and plenty of space. The storage space is limited but there is plenty of room for supplementary storage. It felt right and didn’t smell like old kitty litter. My mom, who went with me (her first post retirement activity), declared it perfect for me.

I move in a little over two weeks. It seems so surreal. I’m nervous one minute and excited the next. I’ll start my job in under a month and be on my way down my new path. Now I just need to pack. I’ve got bubble wrap and boxes. I’m all set.


Looking for an upgrade

As you might have read in Samantha’s post a few weeks ago, our family moved around fairly often when we were kids. I haven’t kept pace with Samantha in the last few years because in 2005, my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I purchased a condo. At the time, it didn’t make much sense to us to throw money down the drain in rent. With the way prices had been  going at the time, we also wanted to lock into something before we were completely priced out of the market. What I wouldn’t give now for the benefit of hindsight back then. As we all know, the market has crashed and houses are worth much less than what they were purchased for just a few years ago. Alas. Nevertheless, we soldier on, and now we’re thinking of moving again.

Essentially, my commute pretty much sucks. I’m just shy of 2 hours door to door. I walk and take the train so it’s not as bad as if I’d have to drive, but leaving at 7 and getting home at 7 makes for a long day. We’d like to find someplace where I can shave a bit off my commute, without adding too much to Darren’s. We’re also outgrowing the condo. Well, truth be told, it was always a bit small for us, but we’re ready for some storage space and a second bathroom. And what we’d really like is a yard. A little patch of grass to call our very own. Someplace where we can set up a grill and BBQ to our hearts content.

Looking for a house is a lot different than looking for an apartment. With an apartment, it’s easy to take a chance. If your landlord is terrible or you decide you don’t like the area, you choose not to renew your lease and go find something else more suitable. Unless you have a wealth of disposable income, you don’t really have that luxury with a house. Plus, you have to be aware of a lot of additional factors: is it in a flood zone; what are the property taxes and how often do they increase; is there anything on the property that could become a problem like buried oil or septic tanks; how well has the house been maintained – does it need a new roof, plumbing, HVAC, etc. I don’t think our next house will be our last house, but we’ll probably be there for several years, so it also makes sense for us to check out the schools since eventually we plan on having rugrats.

Add to that the challenges of selling our current place in this kind of market and the whole process gets to be overwhelming. Despite all of this, I am looking forward to our next move. Our current place is more or less a glorified college apartment. We did some painting but didn’t do much else to make it feel like ours. I’m looking forward to finding a place that I love and personalize it so it feels like home. I’m also far overdue for a purge. The nice thing about moving around so much when I was younger was that every few years I was forced to go through all my things and get rid of what I didn’t need. Without this enforced purging mechanism, I have a tendency to hold onto things far longer than I should. It’s time to get rid of all this baggage and start fresh. I’d like to say that sometime later this year I’ll have a post about my brand new house, but given the market, I think it’s best to take things one step at a time.

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