Monday, May 14, 2012

Apartmentalized.

One of the most exciting things I've ever done was sign a lease for my very first apartment. It kind of felt like cheating, because I had subleased an apartment over one summer while I was still in college, but it was only for three months and it wasn't really "my" apartment, and I had a roommate. Which, don't get me wrong. Roommates are great. But after four years of living in a dorm room with one, I was ready to have my own space to breathe. And to decorate. And to sprawl out. And, ostensibly, to make a huge freaking mess in. (My cleaning habits are a tad bipolar. I'm either on a spotless-apartment-or-bust streak or a "this place looks disturbingly like what I imagine the apartment of a bunch of dudes looks like." When it's the latter, I'm super embarrassed and refuse to let people come over.) But this apartment was mine, all mine. I'd picked it out by myself and signed the lease by myself and moved in, well, with the help of my family after a frenzied day full of graduation activities, but when the dust settled after that, it was just me and my newfound adulthood. And a lot of white walls that needed things hung upon them.

I've lived in three different apartments since I've graduated from college. The first move was spurred by landing my first grown-up job, ironically in the same college town I'd just left. The second was just across town, to a smaller yet more charming duplex-style upstairs apartment that was cheaper and closer to work. What I saved in rent money and gained in convenience was worth the loss of square footage. I still miss that gloriously large kitchen, though. Sad sigh.

I'm reaching an age where (in theory) I should be possibly (in theory) looking at buying a house. Or, given my unmarried status, a condo or townhouse or something. That's what grownups do, right?

Not this girl. I love renting. It makes the most sense for me, financially and situationally. Allow me to elaborate:

Kelly's Top 5 Reasons For Living in an Apartment

1. Maintenance = not my problem.

This one is huge for me. If something breaks, I call my landlord. If something stops working, I call my landlord. If the grass needs mowed, I call my landlord. (LOL JK, I don't - he shows up eventually and gives it a haircut, all of his own doing.) I don't have to worry about things like water heaters and plumbing and any of the other money-eating appliances that coincide with having to pay for everything yourself.

I don't consider myself a feeble damsel-in-distress type, but if we're being honest (and why shouldn't we be?) - I know little to nothing about home repair and maintenance. I would be screwed if I had to fix my own kitchen sink or rewire anything. Generally, the only thing I've ever been responsible for is changing the lightbulbs in my unit when they burn out. And that, I can handle. (I've also switched to CFLs, which means this happens on a next-to-never basis.)

2. Amenities and Utilities = PAID.

I live in a college town, which means a lot of apartment complexes and property management companies will do battle for your attention... which means they'll offer a LOT of freebies. In my last apartment, I got free Internet, free cable, and a free membership to the local gym that I used all of one time for a kickboxing class with one of my coworkers that was apparently an intermediate level and that almost killed me. I didn't go back. (Another post for another day. Gyms terrify me.) In my current apartment, which is privately owned, I get free Internet. Which is worth all other freebies combined because apparently Internet is not cheap (I had to pay for it in my first apartment, which was NOT in a college town, and it was a tad bit depressing). And also because I use the Internet a lot. Like, right now.

You know what else is great? I only have to pay for electricity. I've been pretty lucky - in all the places I've lived, I've only had to pay the electric bill. Water, garbage, heating, whatever else, always included. These are things that I have no idea how much they cost, because I've never had to pay for them. And I can control my electric bills pretty well.

I also don't have to pay property tax or whatever various fees probably go into home ownership. Because I own nothing. Which leads to...

3. Flexibility.

If I want to leave... I can leave. I mean, sure, I have a lease, but it's on a year-by-year basis, and if something huge came up where I had to skedaddle, I could probably work something out. With a house, I'd have to endure the nightmare of trying to sell it. And I know it's a nightmare because I know enough people trying to sell houses right now and apparently the market sucks hard right now.

4. No (extra) debt.

If you hadn't noticed, a lot of the things I love about renting an apartment are largely financial. My dad hates the idea of renting, because you're spending money and spending money and don't have anything to "show" for it. I get that. I also get that I'm recently out of college and have towering piles of student loan payments and credit card payments and all these other grown-up bills to pay that I didn't have five, six, seven years ago. College has put me severely in debt, and the last thing I need is another one. No mortgage for this gal. I will pay a lump sum every month to put a roof over my head, and quite frankly, the benefit of having someone else be responsible for the problems and maintenance (see point 1) is worth its weight in gold. (Whatever that means. I feel like there's a pawn shop joke to be made here.)

5. No extra hassles or people to have said hassles with.

I don't have to hassle with a realtor. I don't have to hassle with sellers. I don't have to hassle with home inspections and mortgages and banks and loans and other bidders and having my hopes and dreams crushed when someone outbids me on my dream home. I only have to work with one entity, I sign my lease and I mail (or hand deliver) a check every month. That's it. There aren't a lot of extra parties involved. No fuss, no muss. Or something. I don't know. Basically: it's easier, and I like easy. I have enough other stuff to worry about. (Like... getting everything packed for my trip to Las Vegas. It's too much math to figure out the hours until my departure, but.... eeeee!)

Bonus reason: Independence.

Okay, I'm adding this one on unofficially because it's kind of cheesy and lame, but... having my own apartment makes me feel like a successful adult. I've got my own place! I decorated it myself! I have a job and a cat and dishes and furniture! Sure, it's not a chic little studio in some big fancy city, but it makes me feel like an independent career woman. Or something. Even when I struggled to find a job after college, I never had to move back in with my parents. I made it work. And being able to afford my own apartment even in the midst of economic shambles was kind of a point of pride for me. I managed to stay on my own two feet. Having my own apartment was the key symbol of that. I was officially part of the Real World.

In summary: I adore living in an apartment. Sure, sometimes you have neighbors and they're loud, or you have to fight over the laundry facilities (my dream apartment is one that has its own in-unit washer and dryer - because I am officially old and my dreams have shrunk), or parking sucks... but in my opinion, these are vastly outweighed by the fact that someone else is responsible for the upkeep and I don't have to do it - and, more importantly, I don't have to pay extra for it.

I could also go into the perks of living *by yourself* in an apartment (never having to close your bathroom door, anyone?) but I think that's another list for another time.

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post. I totes just wrote a sponsored post. I HAVE ARRIVED! Who's a big fancy blogger? Me! No? Okay. I tried. Anywho, this post is part of an ongoing series sponsored by UMoveFree, a Texas-based apartment relocating service. Everything I said above was my out of my own brain, though. 

Moving soon? UMoveFree complaints are few and far between.

2 comments:

Cherie said...

Totally the same reasons I love apartment living, though I don't have anything but water and trash included in mine. I need to work on fixing that.

Steph A said...

People will tell you that you're throwing money away if you rent, but the truth is that very often people buy a house, make their monthly mortgage payment and the interest it includes and pay their property taxes and pay for upkeep for, say, a decade, and then sell the house and pay the realtor a chunk and wind up breaking even on the sale after they pay the rest of the mortgage back. Might as well have been paying rent.

The only way that buying a house is really a good investment is if you A. stay there for the rest of your life, and/or B. pay it off quickly. Which is why i plan to have my mortgage defeated in t-minus 5.5 years (7 years total).

I do find the maintenance on our house to be totally manageable, but that's in huge part because i have a hard-working husband. And when we bought the house we only spent a couple hours here & there for maybe three weeks dealing with the realtor/inspector/lender, etc. I'm sure selling is more of a bitch, though. But what's also a major bitch is moving from apartment to apartment. We're super glad to just be able to stay in our house for the foreseeable future (which you could of course do in the right apartment, too).

I also love having a garden. The lawn i don't like so much, but Nathan takes care of it. And i love, love, love not having to share anything—not even walls—with my neighbors. Well—okay, we share a fence.

Anyway, to each her own! Houses are for some people and they're definitely not for others. Same with apartments. This has got me thinking, though, that buying that duplex i saw for sale in our neighborhood last year might've been a really good idea...