Author Topic: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)  (Read 4133 times)

EconDiva

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« on: March 10, 2016, 08:47:08 AM »
So after the bat situation in my apartment got worse as of 2 days ago, and having dealt with this problem for 8 months now...

MY LANDLORD FINALLY LET ME OUT OF MY LEASE YESTERDAY!!!!

No one will ever understand how big of a deal this is for me.  Anyways, those who've read my posts know the story.  I live in Chicago (Rogers Park area) for background.

So here's the deal:  I actually think I want to leave Rogers Park now.  I've been wanting to stay because of the pricing and proximity to the Metra (the specific train that takes me about an hour and 15 minutes north to Lake Bluff, IL for work).  For those who are Chicagoans, I'm actually considering moving back to the South Loop.

Before you face punch me (and really; that's why I'm writing this...because I may need it) here is more info:

-I lived in the place I'm looking to move into before; was $1300 for 430 sq ft
-I'm looking now at 1 bedrooms that are ~800 sq ft and run ~$1600
-I currently pay $1085 for a 2 bedroom/1 bath and that's right around 21% of my net income

Things to consider:
-New place is further south which means a longer commute (estimate 15 minutes more on the train but total commute time could be even longer as my building would also surely be farther away from the train itself whereas now I'm a 2 block walk).
-Electric is included in the new place
-I spend a good deal of time and a little money coming to this area on average twice a week already
-Obvious increase in rental cost at the new place
-May be other things which I can edit to add but feel free to ask additional questions

SO.  I say all that to ask if, in order to live back on the side of town I'd like to be in, would it be worth 'converting' a 1 bedroom into a 2 bedroom?  In the building I'm looking at right now, I've seen someone else do it.  The master and converted room were separated by a kitchen.  There is still a 'den' so the converted space was the living area, which was the same size as the master.  Of course this would mean a shared bathroom though.  This would be so I could get a roommate.

I have saved 'some' money by going the cheaper route since living here in Chicago but for me it has burnt me.  I lost money with items I had to throw away due to bed bugs and moving again, as well as money lost from having wildlife removal inspections in my current apartment, rabies vaccinations, etc etc.  I do understand I 'could' stay in the area and 'might' still find a good deal but I think emotions and slight trauma are pushing me to just go back to what I had before....the huge question is how do I do it at the price I'm at now or lower?  This was the idea I came up with.

Disclaimer:  I understand another option would be to get a roommate in a 2/2.  I could consider that but I'm slightly afraid of if someone leaves me being stuck with their rent; and THAT I would not be able to do.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 09:03:45 AM by EconDiva »

otter

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2016, 11:28:22 AM »
I realize that this does not address the heart of your question, but consider your commute time. If you work in Lake Bluff and take Metra to work from the Rogers Park station, no way is living in the south Loop going to add only 15 minutes to your commute time. It is probably 10-15 minutes from RP to Union Station, and you then have to get to the South Loop from Union Station (CTA or whatever). This sounds more like +45-50 minutes to me, a non-trivial increase to your daily commuting time (and cost, due to zone pricing).

I figure you surely must know this, as you travel there regularly. Am I missing something?

It does sound as if you would be happier living in the South Loop.

Have you considered any other area, e.g. Bucktown-ish, which has stuff to do and is convenient to both the UP-North line and the Blue Line?

Consider the legal aspects, and potential risk of, converting a 1BR to a 2BR. Not sure if there are any. I know subdividing is rampant in places like SF, but I don't know if it is winked at or frowned upon in Chicago.

Chrissy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 920
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Chicago
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2016, 11:48:18 AM »
Downsize.  If you're considering a roommate, you don't need a 2BD, converted or otherwise.  Also reconsider the South Loop:  you only go there 2x/wk, whereas you're at home 5x/wk.  I live 0.6mi off the Ravenswood stop, just one stop from you now, and take the Metra nearly everyday.  My one bedroom is $1050, and I live here with my husband and newborn, though we're adding a second bedroom ($1,500-$2,000) and a cat shortly because... to everything, turn turn turn. 

http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/apa/5473263482.html
http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/apa/5482734384.html

Inaya

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1621
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2016, 01:41:36 PM »
I've got a 550 ft. studio in River North for $1100, everything included except Internet (landlord is cousin, so I pay about $300 less than average for my building). I commute out to Deerfield from Union, and it's 50 minutes one-way; total 1 hour 40 minutes counting the shuttle from the Metra station and the walk to Union. Work from home 2 weeks, which is a huge help. It's pricey, and a long commute, but we're really happy here and can't imagine living far away from the Loop.

It'll probably come down to what makes you happy, and how much it's worth to you. For us, quality of living means being steps away from the riverwalk, the El, great restaurants, a farmers market, and Millennium/Grant Park. We pay more for that quality of life, so we sacrifice in other areas--we almost never travel, and we rarely buy consumer goods.

Alternately, if you're okay with being a little farther away to pay less, I second the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. That seems the most likely option for us if we decide we need more space.

As to the subdividing, I have no idea whether that would work. It would come down probably to your landlord situation and lease. Subletting is prohibited by our condo association, for instance.

norabird

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7939
  • Location: Brooklyn NY
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2016, 02:53:32 PM »
I have always, always lived with roommates and only once in a decade has a rooommate been shady on rent. I would not worry about this aspect. If someone has to leave, you can find a subletter or replacement. A 2 bedroom will definitely save you money and I would recommend it.

EconDiva

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2016, 03:31:51 PM »
I realize that this does not address the heart of your question, but consider your commute time. If you work in Lake Bluff and take Metra to work from the Rogers Park station, no way is living in the south Loop going to add only 15 minutes to your commute time. It is probably 10-15 minutes from RP to Union Station, and you then have to get to the South Loop from Union Station (CTA or whatever). This sounds more like +45-50 minutes to me, a non-trivial increase to your daily commuting time (and cost, due to zone pricing).

I figure you surely must know this, as you travel there regularly. Am I missing something?

It does sound as if you would be happier living in the South Loop.

Have you considered any other area, e.g. Bucktown-ish, which has stuff to do and is convenient to both the UP-North line and the Blue Line?

Consider the legal aspects, and potential risk of, converting a 1BR to a 2BR. Not sure if there are any. I know subdividing is rampant in places like SF, but I don't know if it is winked at or frowned upon in Chicago.

I think you missed the part where I stated that the 15 minutes added is the time added on the train.

I have not considered other areas as, having lived in the South Loop before, it was just the right fit for me.  Being on the red line was important to me then as well since I feel as though I do everything off of that line (no car).  Good point RE: the legal aspects.  In looking to move back to the same south loop building I was in before, it seems they allowed it as I was considering moving in with someone that had converted theirs and she told me I had to sign my own lease with the building,  So I was not considering it being a sublease.  The commute time will be hard but I was thinking since I adjusted to it before I'd be fine?  My employer gave me a Verizon jetpac so I work on the train.

EconDiva

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2016, 03:35:09 PM »
Downsize.  If you're considering a roommate, you don't need a 2BD, converted or otherwise.  Also reconsider the South Loop:  you only go there 2x/wk, whereas you're at home 5x/wk.  I live 0.6mi off the Ravenswood stop, just one stop from you now, and take the Metra nearly everyday.  My one bedroom is $1050, and I live here with my husband and newborn, though we're adding a second bedroom ($1,500-$2,000) and a cat shortly because... to everything, turn turn turn. 

http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/apa/5473263482.html
http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/apa/5482734384.html

I considered the Ravenswood area but it seems most times I want to go somewhere I'm taking the red line so since moving to Chicago I've always lived near the Red line.  This is tough; I can't really think of any other areas here I'd want to live. 

EconDiva

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2016, 03:36:29 PM »
I've got a 550 ft. studio in River North for $1100, everything included except Internet (landlord is cousin, so I pay about $300 less than average for my building). I commute out to Deerfield from Union, and it's 50 minutes one-way; total 1 hour 40 minutes counting the shuttle from the Metra station and the walk to Union. Work from home 2 weeks, which is a huge help. It's pricey, and a long commute, but we're really happy here and can't imagine living far away from the Loop.

It'll probably come down to what makes you happy, and how much it's worth to you. For us, quality of living means being steps away from the riverwalk, the El, great restaurants, a farmers market, and Millennium/Grant Park. We pay more for that quality of life, so we sacrifice in other areas--we almost never travel, and we rarely buy consumer goods.

Alternately, if you're okay with being a little farther away to pay less, I second the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. That seems the most likely option for us if we decide we need more space.

As to the subdividing, I have no idea whether that would work. It would come down probably to your landlord situation and lease. Subletting is prohibited by our condo association, for instance.

That's an amazing price.  What line is the Bucktown area off of?

It would not be a sublet; both myself and the other tenant would have to have leases with the building.

onlykelsey

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2172
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2016, 03:39:31 PM »
That's interesting, I wouldn't think buildings would allow or encourage that.  If you both have leases with the building, I'm not sure how that protects you against some of your fears/bad experiences with roommates, although it at least means you wouldn't be footing the rent if they bail.  But do check how the lease is written, all of the multiple-tenant leases I've seen in NYC make each individual person responsible for all other tenants, which is shitty for you.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1264
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2016, 03:48:30 PM »

That's an amazing price.  What line is the Bucktown area off of?

It would not be a sublet; both myself and the other tenant would have to have leases with the building.


Bucktown & Wicker park are on the Blue line. There's also a Metra stop. Buck town is a little bit more expensive than Wicker Park. Rents for a 2 bedroom are around $2000/month now here. There are some rat-holes being rented out for cheaper, but renter beware!

EconDiva

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2016, 03:49:17 PM »
That's interesting, I wouldn't think buildings would allow or encourage that.  If you both have leases with the building, I'm not sure how that protects you against some of your fears/bad experiences with roommates, although it at least means you wouldn't be footing the rent if they bail.  But do check how the lease is written, all of the multiple-tenant leases I've seen in NYC make each individual person responsible for all other tenants, which is shitty for you.

So your advice would be to go with getting a place without a roommate?

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2963
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2016, 05:30:43 PM »
congrats!

FrugalShrew

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 585
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2016, 06:37:09 PM »
Have you thought about Evanston? I know it's not for everyone, being a student town, but there's the purple line express to downtown during rush hour, easy connection to red line at Howard, and I think the UPN line stops in Evanston at either Main or Davis. Main is a nice non-studenty party of town and it would be easy to find a young professional post-doc roommate I imagine...it's also got great beaches.

Evanston seems like a great suggestion! Shorten the daily commute, while staying close to the Red Line and maintaining access to the city.

frugaliknowit

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1662
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2016, 02:14:08 PM »
Second the Evanston, if there's a good stop there.  Otherwise stay in Rogers.

South Loop is a BAD idea, in my opinion.  Why add to your commute (plus the added time from the station to your neighborhood) and the added expense, yikes!

otter

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Re: Crazy idea? Converting a 1 bedroom into 2 (Chicago)
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2016, 03:15:03 PM »
Duh! Why didn't I think of this? I agree that Evanston is worth considering. My sweetie lives there so I spend a fair amount of time there. The only point of reference I have for rents is her place, near Main/Chicago - she pays about 1100 for a large one-bedroom in a pre-war building. Apparently this is now considered cheap there (she's been there a while.) The UP-North line has stops at Main (south end of town) and Davis (downtown). There might be another one on the north side. It feels like a nice place to live, walkable, with a relatively dense downtown. And you can get to the city on Red/Purple. If you are outside of the hours in which the Purple line runs all the way downtown, sometimes you can wait a while for a train at Howard. I would probably be happy moving to Evanston if my job did not impose geographic limitations on where I live.



Have you thought about Evanston? I know it's not for everyone, being a student town, but there's the purple line express to downtown during rush hour, easy connection to red line at Howard, and I think the UPN line stops in Evanston at either Main or Davis. Main is a nice non-studenty party of town and it would be easy to find a young professional post-doc roommate I imagine...it's also got great beaches.