Author Topic: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?  (Read 1314 times)

Green_Tea

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Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« on: December 27, 2020, 03:14:22 PM »
Hello everyone!

I'm currently searching for an apartment.
So far I've lived either with family with a garden or in small 1 br apartments without a balcony with either own or shared bathroom/kitchen.
A second room or a balcony come with a price tag I could easily pay, but being frugal, the very cheap 20 qm flat without anything does seem attractive on the financial side, especially knowing I lived just fine in about as much as a student.

Balcony:

When I'm on vacation in warm climates, I like to read or eat on the balcony, but I guess this would only be possible during about 5 months in the summer.

Second room:
I think it's mainly about separating studying from sleeping and about not having guests look on your bed?

Entertaining/social aspect:
I know people will wonder if I cheap out to the point of a one room apartment without a balcony. I guess I could pull off either of 2 rooms no balcony or 1 (large) room with a balcony without appearing too weird.
Then there's also the problem of having to actually furnish the place, if I save on the square footage I might be more inclined to dole out some money for this stuff? (I'm NOT into interior design).

For context: I'm mid 30s working full time. The 20 qm apartment I'm eyeing is about 9 % of my take home income and about as low as it can get, anything else I've considered starts at about 13 %. A very nice 2 room apartment with a balcony would be about 21 %.

There is also the idea of maybe living in a shared apartment. It will not actually be a lot of savings (if at all) but I think I would actually like the company. I work night shift about once a week so I wonder how having to sleep in the morning and occasionally trying to sleep in the afternoon would work out.

Hope to hear about your views and experiences, especially on balconies and 1 vs. 2 room-apartments!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2020, 03:22:33 PM by Green_Tea »

Dave1442397

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2020, 03:22:24 PM »
I always had a one-bedroom apartment, but having had basement, garden, and balcony apartments, I would never rent an apartment without a balcony again. Being able to open a sliding door and read outside in peace was exactly what I needed.

My only non-gf visitors were my parents, and when they stayed (only once) I just gave them the bedroom, and I slept on the pullout couch.

We've been in our house twenty years now, but when we eventually downsize and possibly get a condo, it would have to be something with a deck or balcony.

lhamo

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2020, 04:24:38 PM »
Really depends on the climate and the orientation.

We had two large south-facing balconies and one north-facing one in our apartment in Beijing.  In the summer they were too hot and in the winter they were too cold.  I tried to grow plants in containers the first few years and never managed to make it work.  So they ended up being mostly extra storage space.

Our first two rentals when we moved back to Seattle had balconies but the first one was north-facing/very shady and I didn't have containers for plants at that time so I didn't use it.  We did sit outside some the first summer, which was nice.  The second rental had a small deck but it overlooked a busy street so we didn't use it much either.

Our current house has a decent size garden as well as two east-facing decks with a nice view. I have had huge container gardens on the decks the last two summers.  Heat-loving plants do especially well on the upper deck.   I currently have a good selection of winter veggies (daikon radish, asian greens, other brassicas) still doing well up there.  We get lots of bees and hummingbirds visiting in the summer.

If you like plants and the deck is a pleasant place to grow them/enjoy sitting with them at least 1/3 of the year, I would vote for the 1 br. + deck.


SunnyDays

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2020, 08:22:50 PM »
Iíve lived in 2 different apartments in my life, both 2 bedrooms with large balconies, and while I would have been okay with only one bedroom, I would never have been happy without outdoor space, even though it was only useful for half the year.  Even with balconies, I still felt trapped, like I had to go somewhere just to get some space, and as soon as I could afford it, I bought a house with a large yard and itís been heaven!  But a lot depends on your lifestyle - if youíre not home much, then small and cheap might be best.

brooklynmoney

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2020, 08:28:22 PM »
I just rented a one bedroom with a balcony. Itís great. Even in winter I like to step outside to see the temp. A second bedroom for workout and office would be nice but not for the several hundred more a month it would cost.

Malcat

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2020, 07:59:47 AM »
Just to clarify, when you say one room vs two room, you aren't saying one bedroom vs two bedroom, you are saying a studio/bachelor apartment with a single room for the entire living space vs a one bedroom apartment with living space and a separate bedroom.

A one bedroom apartment with a separate bedroom and living area and a balcony would cost you 21% of your income. So you either live in a relatively expensive area or don't make a ton of money.

Okay, well we can share our personal experiences, but they're highly individual in terms of preferences, so this will really have to come down to your priorities.

As for me, I've lived in A LOT of apartments, and currently DH and I own a one bedroom in a high-rise. For an apartment, it has a large bedroom, an eat-in sized kitchen, and a very large living room, plus an enormous 24 foot balcony.

It would be hard for us to live without all of that, but that's because there are two of us here, and neither of us leave the house for work anymore. It's hard for me to imagine what I would be more willing to give up if I lived alone.

DH uses the balcony more than I do, but that's because I get outside for walks almost every day, plus our complex has a large beautiful garden and lawn that no one uses. Still, it's so nice to just be able to open a door and go outside, even in the winter.

Having the separate rooms is a big deal with two people, but I'm not sure I would care that much if I was alone. DH works from home in the living room now, so my domain during business hours is the bedroom and the kitchen, and I could be quite comfortable with that on my own I think. I've always worked and studied in bed though. When I was studying for my board exams, I don't think I sat in my living room once for several months. I went out on the balcony a lot though at that time because I had no time for walks.

So that's really what it comes down to. If you have to decide between a separate living room and bedroom, or a balcony, the question is: which one is more valuable to your mental health?

Do you have a lifestyle where you get outside a lot like I do? If so, a balcony may be less important. Do you need separate work and sleep areas? If yes, then having those spaces separated by walls may be critical.

Lastly, do you cook?
I do, that's why the big kitchen is a MUST for me. I'm a former chef and quite demanding about my cooking space. One room apartments tend to have miniscule kitchens, so that's a question as well. On top of that, if you cook a lot and don't have a separate bedroom, it's quite difficult to keep your clothes from smelling like food all the time. The one time I lived in a one room apartment, my clothes perpetually smelled like cooked onions and garlic. It was awful, which is why I only did it once. Plus I preferred living with roommates.

Then there's the option of just spending more and having both. This all comes down to how much these factors combined would contribute to your mental health vs the additional cash flow you would have.

That's entirely personal, but also depends on how static your income is. If you expect your income to steadily rise, then that 21% drops over time.

I don't know how rental laws are where you live, but here landlords can only raise rent on existing tenants by a very small amount, but housing costs are rising rapidly, so there's a solid argument to be made for locking in a rate on the kind of place you might want to live for awhile. So consider that kind of thing as well if you think that you will likely end up dissatisfied living without a balcony or separate bedroom and then having to move.

Anyway, that's all I can think of at the moment.

Good luck with your decision, and don't feel pressured to spend as little as possible. Truly decide what's best for *you* and *your* happiness. Not that you should care what we think, but I guarantee that the people here aren't going to judge you for prioritizing renting a decent one bedroom apartment for yourself.

Only you know what's right for you.

Green_Tea

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2020, 02:40:10 PM »
Wow, thank you all for your experiences!
Seems balconies are worth it to most of you and I could absolutely see myself enjoying one too so will include it.

Just to clarify, when you say one room vs two room, you aren't saying one bedroom vs two bedroom, you are saying a studio/bachelor apartment with a single room for the entire living space vs a one bedroom apartment with living space and a separate bedroom.

A one bedroom apartment with a separate bedroom and living area and a balcony would cost you 21% of your income. So you either live in a relatively expensive area or don't make a ton of money.

That's right, single room vs. one room with a separate bedroom.
Kitchen can be in the room or in a very small separate room. A large enough kitchen is a must (you are right, some equipped kitchens in very small apartments are not acceptable) but I don't mind cooking smells so separate or not would both be ok.

Well, rents are on the high side. These costs do include everything except electricity, internet/phone and TV though. I earn quite a bit more than average so I'm happy that it's "only" as much as it is. Then again being single is not helping.

Also thanks for the other thoughts!

Green_Tea

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2021, 10:58:40 AM »
Thank you all for your replies! I can update that  I found an apartment with a balcony AND a separate bedroom :D

lhamo

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2021, 02:03:50 PM »
Livin' large!  Can't wait to see pictures....

Green_Tea

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Re: Renting - second room / balcony vs. quality of life?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2021, 05:51:45 AM »
Livin' large! 

Hehe ;D
Actually the whole apartment only has 400 sqft (less than 40 m2) ... and on top of the balcony and the separate bedroom it ALSO has a separate kitchen, kitchen included in the rent and a very nice community washing machine :o) Oh did I mention I can bicycle or even walk to work?
I think it's a true mustachian unicorn apartment and I cannot believe I found AND got it :))) Thank you for helping me clarify my thinking about balconies especially!

PS: please don't quote the specifics, I might delete them later for privacy reasons :)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 06:07:10 AM by Green_Tea »