Author Topic: Are we making a huge mistake?  (Read 3281 times)

TL8

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Are we making a huge mistake?
« on: May 07, 2019, 06:04:11 AM »
My wife and I downgraded our apartment a couple years ago. It was the right decision for us at the time. She was thinking about quitting her job and it wasn't clear how much my small business was going to grow. Since then, she's decided to stay with her employer and my business has taken off. The result is that we currently pay roughly 9% of our take-home income in rent despite living in a super HCOL city. Great, right?

Not quite. Our apartment is nice overall, but it suffers from some substantial drawbacks. It's not the most convenient location. The kitchen is cramped and has no dishwasher (we have a baby, so there's a lot to wash). The washing machine breaks down regularly. The apartment is poorly insulated and can be uncomfortable in both the summer and winter, with window condensation that results in quite a bit of mold around the windows. It's also not well soundproofed and we sometimes wake the baby by walking down the hallway or using the bathroom. There isn't really any risk of burglary where we live, but the building itself is not very secure.

So we've decided to move to a nearby apartment in a much nicer building. Shorter commute (by a few minutes) for both of us, bigger kitchen, dishwasher, better washer/dryer unit, better soundproofing. Fantastic view. And they have 24-hour reception that can receive refrigerated packages, which is great for us as we both work full time and order groceries online. Without getting into every last detail, there are A LOT of conveniences and I estimate they'll add up to around 3-5 hours of extra freed-up time for us each week. I'll also have room for a better home office, which will likely let me come home earlier at least 1-2 days a week. The catch is that rent will increase to about 13.5% of our take-home.

Using last year as a baseline, the increased rent will decrease our savings rate from around 55% to around 50%. I've tried to think carefully through this and honestly analyze for myself whether this move will appreciably increase my quality of life, and I think the answer is yes. My wife thinks it will basically be a wash for her, but she's very supportive and says she's happy to make the move. Is it worth 5% of our annual savings? I think so.

One the other hand, I feel like I'm basically moving in the wrong direction. We should be lowering, not raising, our expenses.

On the third hand, it feels kind of silly and frustrating to work a 12-hour day (on a day like this I typically earn $2,000-$3,000), then bicycle for 30 minutes to get home, hand-wash all the dishes, and tiptoe through the apartment. We can afford to alleviate some of these inconveniences.

I've thought hard about the move and I think it makes sense. But the increase in cost does concern me and I'd value some input from other folks here. Does this seem reasonable to you? We're in our mid-30s, currently with about 30% of a massively fat FIRE saved. For the next five years or so, I want to go full-speed ahead on my business, so we're not looking to downscale in the immediate future.

marty998

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2019, 06:08:04 AM »
Better productivity for your business in the next couple of years would more than pay for the increased cost. Sometimes you do have to spend a little to be in a better overall position.

Yes you should be optimising expenses, but not at the cost of your health and sanity.


TheHardenedInvestor

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2019, 06:24:35 AM »
The huge mistake is not thinking about it like you have.

reeshau

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2019, 06:25:38 AM »
You haven't expressed any urgency in ending your current working situations--in fact, you chose to continue, when last confronted with the choice.  In contrast, you do have a long list of drawbacks to your former situation.  These clearly have value to you.  So, you choices seem to be consistent with your goals.  And you are still renting, so you could always choose the other way, should you find that you were wrong; it is not as big a commitment to a fancier lifestyle as it would be if you were buying.

Go for it--live well.  At 50% savings, you will be able to judge again what you want to do long before your child has grown.

brute

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2019, 06:39:14 AM »
This honestly seems like one of those times where you're optimizing your current and future happiness by getting into a better housing situation. Bad housing grates on the soul in a way that can take a while to heal. Sure it isn't the worst house in the world, but get something that you can enjoy without going way overboard. You'll do just fine.

FIREby35

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2019, 06:41:29 AM »
If you are saving 50% then you can afford to have a slightly nicer place. Save for the future, live in the present. If you can find the right balance on that, you are doing just fine.

TL8

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2019, 07:15:10 AM »
Sincere thanks to all who responded. You're making me feel more confident in this decision.

SunnyDays

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2019, 09:43:09 AM »
Yes, move!  A home should be your retreat from the world and a place to nourish you.  Doesn't sound like it's doing that.  For another 5 %, it's totally worth it.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2019, 10:01:01 AM »
I agree with the others - this move makes sense given your lives.  We are assuming you did your due diligence and found the best apartment available for your needs.

mm1970

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2019, 10:59:38 AM »
Definitely move.  The dishwasher alone, if you have a baby, is worth it.

GizmoTX

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2019, 11:04:49 AM »
Quality of life is very important.

Dicey

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2019, 11:16:12 AM »
Quality of life is very important.
Good thing I scrolled to the end, because GizmoTX has already said it for me.

Re: tiptoeing when baby is sleeping.  My mom used to deliberately make noise. She did laundry, ran the vacuum, etc. She did it to help us become sound sleepers. It works, and to this day I am grateful to her for this lifelong gift.

dougules

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2019, 11:16:51 AM »
Just curious, how many percent does it up your spending?

Better productivity for your business in the next couple of years would more than pay for the increased cost. Sometimes you do have to spend a little to be in a better overall position.

Yes you should be optimising expenses, but not at the cost of your health and sanity.

I'd say health and sanity are at the heart of optimizing your expenses. 

DadJokes

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2019, 11:24:50 AM »
I think the best way to look at it is to calculate how much the move will lengthen your time until FI and then determine if the improved quality of life is worth that additional time of being required to work. If it's a few months, then it's certainly well worth it. If it's several years (unlikely), then maybe not.

From what I'm reading about your dislike of your current living situation, I would say that moving is the right decision. The path to FI is not about deprivation.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2019, 12:19:38 PM »
Quality of life is very important.
I also agree with this. There's always a balance between delaying gratification and improving quality of life. There's a ton of thing you just have to balance.

My wife and I got approved for a $300,000 loan when we were buying a house; we could have bought something that high, or we could have bought something for as cheap as $75,000.  We bought a nice, pretty much finished home for $127,000.

We could drive old Honda Fits and older cars, but we have two paid off cars: a 2014 Honda CR-V and a 2013 Toyota Rav 4. Both of us drive quite a bit for work and it's nice having good, reliable cars that have extra space.

We could have zero cable, but we spend $25/month on Sling and $12/month on Hulu.

On and on it goes. Everything is a trade-off.  You don't *always* have to be seeking the cheapest possible option. Sometimes being happy now is more important than six months of a FIRE date.

ysette9

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Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2019, 12:50:42 PM »
Several years back I was on these forums complaining about the house we were renting. Great location and way under market price, but no insulation, single-pane windows, no central heat, no AC, so on and so forth. We moved about two years back and bought a house a few blocks over.

Our housing cost has doubled but we now have our own garden, we insulated every damn wall inside and out, added AC, skylights, and more. Our house is cute but most of all it is comfortable. It is a huge increase in the quality of our lives and I appreciate it every day. Especially with a baby (in our case we now have two) these things really do matter, at least to me.

I donít know the exact impact on our savings rate because we have had a few salary increases in the same time, but we are still saving north of 50% after the increased housing costs and it is worth it to me. I think your plan is an excellent one and I would make the same move in your case. I have made the same move and donít regret a thing.

TL8

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2019, 02:56:19 PM »
Thanks to everyone else who's responded. I'm surprised and pleased to see that there's unanimous support for the move. As for how the move would impact FIRE, it depends on how long we stay in the new apartment. Over a 10-year period, it would push FIRE back by about 1 year as compared to staying in our current apartment.

None of the issues with our current apartment are a big deal individually, but they do add up to a small-but-measurable impact on quality of life. The place we're moving to seems outrageously expensive to me, but I guess I haven't really adjusted my thinking to account for how high our income has climbed, since the "outrageously expensive" apartment would only increase our expenses by 4.5%. Thinking about this in terms of percentages rather than dollars has helped a lot. A substantial portion of our rent is also tax deductible, so that helps explain the relatively small impact on take-home pay.

BDWW

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2019, 03:45:10 PM »
Thanks to everyone else who's responded. I'm surprised and pleased to see that there's unanimous support for the move. As for how the move would impact FIRE, it depends on how long we stay in the new apartment. Over a 10-year period, it would push FIRE back by about 1 year as compared to staying in our current apartment.

None of the issues with our current apartment are a big deal individually, but they do add up to a small-but-measurable impact on quality of life. The place we're moving to seems outrageously expensive to me, but I guess I haven't really adjusted my thinking to account for how high our income has climbed, since the "outrageously expensive" apartment would only increase our expenses by 4.5%. Thinking about this in terms of percentages rather than dollars has helped a lot. A substantial portion of our rent is also tax deductible, so that helps explain the relatively small impact on take-home pay.

Buck up and deal with the current apartment. Stoics used to take sabbaticals to live with the urchins and beggars just to prove to themselves they could endure. Sounds like you're just soft.  :)

ysette9

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2019, 03:48:42 PM »
Thanks to everyone else who's responded. I'm surprised and pleased to see that there's unanimous support for the move. As for how the move would impact FIRE, it depends on how long we stay in the new apartment. Over a 10-year period, it would push FIRE back by about 1 year as compared to staying in our current apartment.

None of the issues with our current apartment are a big deal individually, but they do add up to a small-but-measurable impact on quality of life. The place we're moving to seems outrageously expensive to me, but I guess I haven't really adjusted my thinking to account for how high our income has climbed, since the "outrageously expensive" apartment would only increase our expenses by 4.5%. Thinking about this in terms of percentages rather than dollars has helped a lot. A substantial portion of our rent is also tax deductible, so that helps explain the relatively small impact on take-home pay.

Buck up and deal with the current apartment. Stoics used to take sabbaticals to live with the urchins and beggars just to prove to themselves they could endure. Sounds like you're just soft.  :)
Anyone parenting a baby is already a super hero and gets a pass for being soft in other areas. :)

Malkynn

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2019, 05:59:25 AM »
Life is way too short to live in a shitty home if you can comfortably afford a good home.

As long as your definition of a "good home" isn't some consumerist driven shit, then don't feel bad about needing to spend a bit to be comfortable and genuinely more healthy and happy.

Even MMM himself has a nice home.

Based on your description of where you are currently living, and the fact that you will still be saving 50%, I think most people here would try to talk you out of staying where you are.

Besides, the sacrifices it would take to increase your income to cover the difference are probably less than the sacrifices necessary to live there.

It's all about trade offs, and this one seems extremely obvious to me.

Freedom2016

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2019, 07:42:52 AM »
Re: tiptoeing when baby is sleeping.  My mom used to deliberately make noise. She did laundry, ran the vacuum, etc. She did it to help us become sound sleepers. It works, and to this day I am grateful to her for this lifelong gift.

We did a similar thing with our babies -- i.e. not get a 'white noise maker,' make normal noises at night, otherwise not try to create a quiet environment for them, had them share a room starting when the youngest was 10 weeks old. Now 4 and 7, both kids are good sleepers; we often have guests who wonder if the loud TV or music or conversation will wake the kids. Nope!

(Of course every baby's different so YMMV...)

JLee

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2019, 08:01:49 AM »
Side note, how are your other living expenses four times your housing costs?  Could you trim elsewhere and maintain your savings rate with the new apartment?

Guizmo

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2019, 08:43:40 AM »
13.5%!?!?!?! Oh the horror!!!!

ysette9

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2019, 02:05:30 PM »

TL8

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2019, 03:07:19 PM »
Side note, how are your other living expenses four times your housing costs?  Could you trim elsewhere and maintain your savings rate with the new apartment?

The honest answer is yes we could. Our budget has tons of fat in it, though since I'm self-employed, the line between business expenses and lifestyle expenses isn't always crystal clear. That said, we've thankfully shifted away from buying pricey things so the expenses are mostly related to activities that we enjoy or services that free up time for us (daycare for daughter while we work, cleaning service for our apartment, family meals at nice restaurants/family activities, high electric bill for our poorly insulated apartment, fancy groceries that we agree are fresher and better-tasting than the cheaper alternatives).

The 5% drop in savings rate is based on our net income from last year, and my business revenue and net income has increased in each of the past 5 years. Based on this year's revenues and our expenses to date, I project that our savings rate for the year is likely to land somewhere in the range of 57% even after the move to the new apartment. So my hope is that I'll "fix" the problem of our extravagant spending by making more money and avoiding lifestyle inflation. We've managed this over the past 2-3 years as our income has increased. This is a viable solution because I actually want to keep working at my job. For now, at least. But there's enough volatility that our savings rate could conceivably drop to something like 15% if there's a major economic crash and my customers go away.

TL8

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #25 on: May 08, 2019, 03:08:38 PM »
13.5%!?!?!?! Oh the horror!!!!


I'm glad to see that even by the conservative standards of this forum this isn't considered extravagant. Really does make me feel more confident in the decision.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2019, 09:26:05 PM »
Move. Home comfort with a baby matters. Youíre young still and will make up the money, but not your sanity.

DadJokes

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2019, 06:34:55 AM »
13.5%!?!?!?! Oh the horror!!!!


I'm glad to see that even by the conservative standards of this forum this isn't considered extravagant. Really does make me feel more confident in the decision.

My mortgage is about 20% of after tax income, if we are only counting P&I. I would love to drop it that low.

elliha

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2019, 08:57:59 AM »
You have a mold problem in the current apartment and no dish washer... After that I more or less stopped reading since that would be all to convince me to get another place really. The place you are moving to seems to add many other bonuses so I think it is a great move for you to move.

TL8

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2019, 01:55:55 AM »
You have a mold problem in the current apartment and no dish washer... After that I more or less stopped reading since that would be all to convince me to get another place really. The place you are moving to seems to add many other bonuses so I think it is a great move for you to move.

Thank you. I don't want to overemphasize the mold issue. It's just a very small amount of mold that appears at the base of the windows where condensation accumulates, it's not like we have black mold in the walls. I guess calling it "quite a bit" of mold in my initial post was an exaggeration or oversensitivity. The lack of a dishwasher is a bigger inconvenience (we asked the management company about installing one at our own expense but it would violate our lease and we got the impression it could turn into a fiasco). In any event, it will certainly be nice to move to an apartment with NO mold as opposed to just "a very small amount" of mold!
« Last Edit: May 10, 2019, 01:57:59 AM by TL8 »

elliha

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #30 on: May 10, 2019, 04:07:59 AM »
You have a mold problem in the current apartment and no dish washer... After that I more or less stopped reading since that would be all to convince me to get another place really. The place you are moving to seems to add many other bonuses so I think it is a great move for you to move.

Thank you. I don't want to overemphasize the mold issue. It's just a very small amount of mold that appears at the base of the windows where condensation accumulates, it's not like we have black mold in the walls. I guess calling it "quite a bit" of mold in my initial post was an exaggeration or oversensitivity. The lack of a dishwasher is a bigger inconvenience (we asked the management company about installing one at our own expense but it would violate our lease and we got the impression it could turn into a fiasco). In any event, it will certainly be nice to move to an apartment with NO mold as opposed to just "a very small amount" of mold!

We ended up installing a dishwasher ourselves in our apartment (allowed since the fittings for a dishwasher was there, just not the machine) and it is one of our best purchases ever. I am sure you will love the new place. (As to mold, I don't think any amount is acceptable unless you live in the tropics)

Jesstache

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #31 on: May 10, 2019, 11:51:45 PM »
You might end up saving quite a bit on electric/gas heating and cooling the place.  Insulation makes a big difference.  I once was renting an apartment for $450/month and himmed and hawed over moving to a nicer apartment for $600/month (I was making about $50k/year but had quite a large student loan payment.  As it turns out, my electric bill went down about $75/month and my water went down about $100/month (formula based bill to actual usage bill, score!) and it was about a wash to slightly cheaper for a nicer, newer place that was gated and didn't have animals scratching the ceiling when I slept.  Even if it did end up costing the $150 more per month, it would have been worth it.

Shane

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2019, 02:40:13 AM »
Yeah, +1 to everyone else's support for your decision to move to a nicer place. Sounds like you've already got a plan to increase income to more than cover for the extra rent you'll pay. You guys are working hard and have a little baby. You deserve to live in a comfortable apartment.

One thing I found interesting about this thread was how much value the OP and many people who responded seemed to place on having a dishwasher. My wife and I both grew up in homes without dishwashers, and we've never had a dishwasher in any place we've lived together, so we're used to washing our dishes by hand. A few times, over the years, we've stayed in Airbnb apartments and houses that had dishwashers, and as a novelty, we sometimes tried them out. My wife and I both agree, we really don't like using a dishwasher, at all. For a small family, it just seems so much easier to us to just wash our dishes by hand. TBH, I would consider a dishwasher in an apartment a negative, because it takes up cabinet space. The house where we've been living for the past ~10 months has a dishwasher, but because the kitchen has so little cabinet space, we use the dishwasher to store clean dishes. A few times we've had to stop well meaning guests, who were attempting to help us clean up, from putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher. We were like, "No, no, no! Only clean dishes go in there!" The looks on their faces were pretty funny. :)

Malkynn

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2019, 05:05:17 AM »
Yeah, +1 to everyone else's support for your decision to move to a nicer place. Sounds like you've already got a plan to increase income to more than cover for the extra rent you'll pay. You guys are working hard and have a little baby. You deserve to live in a comfortable apartment.

One thing I found interesting about this thread was how much value the OP and many people who responded seemed to place on having a dishwasher. My wife and I both grew up in homes without dishwashers, and we've never had a dishwasher in any place we've lived together, so we're used to washing our dishes by hand. A few times, over the years, we've stayed in Airbnb apartments and houses that had dishwashers, and as a novelty, we sometimes tried them out. My wife and I both agree, we really don't like using a dishwasher, at all. For a small family, it just seems so much easier to us to just wash our dishes by hand. TBH, I would consider a dishwasher in an apartment a negative, because it takes up cabinet space. The house where we've been living for the past ~10 months has a dishwasher, but because the kitchen has so little cabinet space, we use the dishwasher to store clean dishes. A few times we've had to stop well meaning guests, who were attempting to help us clean up, from putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher. We were like, "No, no, no! Only clean dishes go in there!" The looks on their faces were pretty funny. :)

We just bought a condo that doesn't have a dishwasher and is not allowed to have one installed.
Agreed, for us, it's really a non issue, but everyone has different priorities. Certainly, most people are absolutely aghast at us giving up our dishwasher...even though we're only two people.

We do have a robot vacuum though. As I said, everyone has their priorities.

ysette9

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #34 on: May 11, 2019, 01:49:54 PM »
I abhor washing dishes by hand. Big waste of time, energy, and water. Especially as the family grows and we use more dishes it is far easier to spend five minutes loading the sucker and turning it on than 20min washing by hand. We do the largest pots and pans by hand. My husband is faster as he grew up without a dishwasher, but I have to send about 20% of his work back because it fails quality control inspection. So then you have the trouble of washing it twice.

I do notice though that my husband and nanny, both of who didnít grow up with one, are shit dishwasher loafers. You do have to understand the concept of how one washes
 In order to put things in correctly. Iím constant reloading to turn bowls upside down or remove large things from sticking up that would stop the spinners from spinning. ;-)

desert_phoenix

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #35 on: May 11, 2019, 04:37:23 PM »
Yeah, +1 to everyone else's support for your decision to move to a nicer place. Sounds like you've already got a plan to increase income to more than cover for the extra rent you'll pay. You guys are working hard and have a little baby. You deserve to live in a comfortable apartment.

One thing I found interesting about this thread was how much value the OP and many people who responded seemed to place on having a dishwasher. My wife and I both grew up in homes without dishwashers, and we've never had a dishwasher in any place we've lived together, so we're used to washing our dishes by hand. A few times, over the years, we've stayed in Airbnb apartments and houses that had dishwashers, and as a novelty, we sometimes tried them out. My wife and I both agree, we really don't like using a dishwasher, at all. For a small family, it just seems so much easier to us to just wash our dishes by hand. TBH, I would consider a dishwasher in an apartment a negative, because it takes up cabinet space. The house where we've been living for the past ~10 months has a dishwasher, but because the kitchen has so little cabinet space, we use the dishwasher to store clean dishes. A few times we've had to stop well meaning guests, who were attempting to help us clean up, from putting dirty dishes into the dishwasher. We were like, "No, no, no! Only clean dishes go in there!" The looks on their faces were pretty funny. :)

We just bought a condo that doesn't have a dishwasher and is not allowed to have one installed.
Agreed, for us, it's really a non issue, but everyone has different priorities. Certainly, most people are absolutely aghast at us giving up our dishwasher...even though we're only two people.

We do have a robot vacuum though. As I said, everyone has their priorities.

If the dishwasher in my place was not newly installed last year just before I moved in, I'd have considered just having the old one removed to have more storage space.  I don't care for the dishwasher, though I try to use it more since it is a new model and uses very little water.

Zamboni

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Re: Are we making a huge mistake?
« Reply #36 on: May 11, 2019, 05:11:43 PM »
Glad you are making this decision.

I once had a loved one renting the cheapest place possible. He lived there for a couple of years and was miserable about it in many respects. Far from work, mildew smell and dampness problems, bad lighting, tiny kitchenette, no dishwasher, only one bedroom to share between him and his son, slum lord property manager. Then, it burned down. Literally. This was quite a traumatic event as personal belongings and sentimental items were lost . . . and he had no renter's insurance and almost no accessible savings (he did have money in a 401K). The Red Cross came up with 3 nights paid hotel and $100 WalMart gift card to buy underwear and toiletries, bless them.

But that fire, I tell you, was the best thing that could have happened. No one was home and no one was hurt. He had to find a place to live ASAP, and he found a bigger, newer apartment with an actual kitchen and professional property management that was much closer to his work and his son's school. It costs more than double his previous rent, so he freaked out. In the end, though, his quality of life was much better and it's been uphill ever since.

Good luck to you and your family.