To Move or Not To Move? That is the question.

Happy Snow Day! AGAIN. I’m sick of this winter already. 18″ this time! I’m working from home today, i.e. catching up on lots of paperwork I’m behind on, and hey, it’s time for a work break! I’ll go with my tradition of blogging on these snow days. 🙂

So the current debate in the Bacon household is if we should move out of our 600 sq ft studio. As mentioned in my last post, Mr. Bacon will be buying his car this weekend, and rent @ $1495 + 2 parking spots @ $155 = $1805/month for our big little studio. (It is pretty big for a studio with balcony on the 14th floor. But it’s still a studio.) Pros: it’s in a very walkable neighborhood (Walkscore of 92) with a bajillion bars and restaurants and grocery stores, utilities are included, and it’s a 5min walk to the Metro (subway) stop if we want to go into DC. Cons: it’s expensive, we don’t have a washer/dryer in the unit (it’s on the 1st floor), and pedestrian and car traffic can be ridiculous.

The story is, it wasn’t always a ridiculous $1805 for us. I first moved here on my own last January, and rent was $1465. I chose the location as it was walking/biking distance from the hospital I worked at as a contractor at (1.5 miles away) and wanted to live without a car. Mr. Bacon and I were dating long-distance and I left my car with him and lived without it for several months. When he did move in here around May, we were still able to park for free in a friend’s neighborhood 3 blocks away with her visitor’s permit. Then she got married and bought a house elsewhere, so we ponied up the $155/month parking fee for one car. That made it $1620.

This month, the 12-month lease ran out and rent went up $30 ($1650 total with one parking spot). We are now month-to-month with the ability to leave with 2-months’ written notice. Since my promotion last month (YAY!), I got moved to a different office about 5 miles away from here which isn’t convenient via public transit. I was actually biking to this location a couple times a week when they had me on rotating sites, but that was way before it got frigid and icy outside. 😉 SO, the second car was necessary.

But going from $1465 to $1805 for a studio? Which doesn’t even have a washer/dryer in the unit? No freakin’ way!

We’ve been shopping around the area just 5 miles up the road and there are 1 bedroom/1 bath townhouses in the $1500 or under range. There are also 2 bedroom/2bath condos that are renting in the $1800 or under range. Pros of this new neighborhood: parking is included, much quieter area, W/D in unit, more reasonable rent and bigger space for what you pay, community swimming pools included, and two of my running friends live there! Cons: not as walkable a neighborhood (Walk Score is only 38), parking isn’t underground or covered like our current place (which while expensive, has come in handy with these awful snowstorms), utilities aren’t included, and the Metro is at least a 20min walk away.

We saw the 1-bedroom on Sunday and I really wanted it; it would save us $300/month. Then we saw the 2 bedroom on Tuesday and I was just so enamored with the place that I figured, we’d be paying the same for so much more! Both of us aren’t from here, and it’d be awesome to have the ability to host friends and family members from out of town. I really think we’d actually get more visitors if we had a place for them to stay.

So yesterday we gave our two months’ notice here, and I was pretty dead-set on getting us into the 2-bed/2-bath place we saw on Tuesday. Then our landlord called and threw an interesting twist into our moving plans… She asked “What would it take to get you guys to stay?” She talked about potentially giving us a free parking spot if we moved into the “junior 1-bedroom”…which is $1775 and has no balcony. I was so caught off-guard that I didn’t know what to say…and said I’d need to talk to the fiancé.

As it turns out, Mr. Bacon doesn’t really want to move. After all, he just moved here in May and it’s such a hassle (and expense) to move all your stuff (even though we don’t have that much) and change addresses, etc. He does, however, have a tendency to say “whatever you want babe, whatever makes you happy” which is sweet but frustrating. I realized it would cost extra to pony up another security deposit (one month’s rent) plus we’d more than likely be paying for a two-week overlap of rent while we’re moving. Plus Mr. Bacon would want to hire movers as he doesn’t really want to move. (Although he was fairly enamored with the two places we looked at too. It’s like he wants to live at those other places but wants to skip the whole hassle-of-moving part.)

We called his father, who always gives great advice and is an awesome negotiator, and he suggested asking for the junior 1-bedroom at the same price as our studio, with two free parking spots, and to have them move all our stuff for us. WHOA! Like he said, when negotiating, always ask for more than what you want.

Yeah…I tend to agree, but I wasn’t sold that they would grant us all of that for any less than $1805. Plus the “junior 1-bedroom” doesn’t have a balcony, and we have the Dish Network, so I don’t think we’d be able to use it…and we have a 12-month contract on that which ends in July. So me and Mr. Bacon talked some more, and prioritized what we wanted. We realized we want to keep our costs down (as he’s about to have a $300 car payment, and we want to save money for the wedding). So that rules out the 2bed/2bath condo…which we also realized is something we’d want to BUY, rather than pay rent to someone else. While the studio can feel cramped sometimes, we figure we can stick it out for another year to save some money…but only IF it costs less than $1805.

So the two options left:
A) negotiate lower rent or free parking for our current place…$1500 max total.
B) move to a 1-bedroom apartment 5 miles up the road for $1500 or less.

I just sent the landlord off an email explaining our situation and offering to sign another 1-year lease if she can give us two free parking spaces, i.e. $1495 for the rent + $0 for two parking spots. I explained that our price point is $1500 as we are saving money for our wedding. (I believe she got married recently as her last name has changed from when I first moved in here…so maybe we’ll get some sympathy here!)

I’m also about to email the 1-bedroom property we viewed last weekend, with our rental application. So…we’ll have to see what happens. In the meantime, I’m going to remind myself to stick to my guns about not wanting to pay more than $1500 for housing + parking!

I’m leaning towards moving into the $1500 1-bedroom, as it’ll more than likely save us money (I’m not convinced she’ll give us two free parking spaces…one at the most). Even though we have to pay more moving costs upfront, and this is around the time I’m saving up to pay off my taxes *cringe*, in the long run we will SAVE money! Obviously we wouldn’t be buying a house until after the evil student loans are paid off (hopefully in 2.5 years), so I can see us signing a 2-year lease at this new place.

How much do you pay for rent? Is parking included? What would YOU do in this situation??

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8 thoughts on “To Move or Not To Move? That is the question.

  1. If the landlord doesn’t want to give you 2 free parking spaces, why don’t you offer to extend the 1more year lease to 1and a half year lease? She probably doesn’t want to deal with finding another good renter since she’s the one who called you back. Try to extend it and see if that’ll change her mind.

    1. That’s a good idea…although at the same time I think we need more space for the sanity of our relationship 😉 As much as I love him, it’d be nice to have a separate living room and bedroom!

  2. Hey, wanted to leave a note for you. I just found and read your entire blog while watching the Olympics. Sounds like you are doing really well on your journey! I’m in grad school trying to pare down my wife’s and my student loans, and I’m so jealous of your income!

    Anyway, good luck on the housing – my biggest advantage in paying loans is the low cost of living here in Iowa. Our two bedroom apartment is under $700 a month. Can’t imagine living in DC!

    1. Thanks Erika! We decided to go with the 1-bedroom condo/townhouse at $1500 and I didn’t actually bother to negotiate–I know there are neighbors paying $1650 or more for the same layout! Man, housing costs are ridiculous in So Cal too…my sister lives in a two-bedroom apartment in L.A. (O.J.’s old neighborhood in Brentwood) and has been there for 10 years now thanks to rent control. 🙂

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