Friday, July 19, 2013

Moving Factors

Last week I was out playing Battlestar Galactica with Sara and Duncan (yes, I was a cylon) and Sara mentioned that there were units opening up in her building and that I should consider moving downtown into the one bedroom or finding someone and moving in to the two bedroom. I have been thinking about moving since I really don't like my current place very much, but my previous thoughts had all involved finding a cheaper place to live and this wasn't going to be the case. My knee jerk reaction was to just dismiss the option outright because of the increased cost. I've since had time to think about it more, and I hate my initial reaction. I'm unemployed so in some sense trying to reduce spending makes sense. The longer I can go before running low on money the less pressure there is to need a job. But I hate counting pennies, and I don't actually need to do it. I probably shouldn't go for a vacation to the Maldives but if spending a couple hundred extra dollars a month will make me happier then that shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. It's like I'm falling into the progression trap Sky talked a bit about the other day. I'm not working, so I'm a bad person, so I can't have nice things. But I'm not a bad person.

This week that's been thrust to the forefront as we're having a bit of a heat wave right now in Toronto. It feels like it's in the 40s and my apartment is hotter than it is outside. I have a portable air conditioner, but it's not nearly strong enough. I'm stuck sitting around drenched in sweat while I play Civ V. It's not going to kill me by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn't very comfortable. It's also not much of a surprise. This apartment does not have good temperature control. It's always too hot in the summer and the winter and too cold in the spring and fall. I should move at some point, and I've known that all along. But where? And why? Maybe the right answer is to move someplace cheaper in order to stretch my savings as long as they'll go. Maybe the right answer is to move someplace nicer so I can mentally recharge properly in order to get back into a mentally employable state faster. Maybe it's even to decide staying here is optimal. But to make that decision I need information and to critically think about it, not to just go with a gut reaction that I shouldn't spend money. So I figure it'll probably be helpful to write out what I like and don't like about my current place so I can actually assess options. And I should post it here because I have smart friends who might see things I'm missing! And because I have a quota.

First off, what do I like about my current place? The thing it most has going for it is location. It's right on top of a subway station. I initially chose this spot because it was a reasonable distance from the 3 places in Toronto I thought I was going to frequently visit: Drew's place, Sky's place, and my work. Drew moved away, Sky had a kid, and I lost my job so none of those are places I actually go to very often if at all. One thing I learned about the subway is that it gets super busy going from outside town to downtown in the morning, and super busy the other way around in the evening. This worked out fine for me since I worked way north so I was going the opposite way of traffic. My train was always reasonably sparse while the train the other way was always packed to the brim. I don't like being around large groups of people very much, but the sparse train was just fine by me. But if I got a job downtown I'd need to move downtown or arrange it so I didn't work normal hours because I would go crazy if I had to take the busy train every single day. So while my current location was great at the time, and is still reasonable for my current uses, it's not really a big plus anymore.

The other thing that's really good about my place is I live here. Staying at this location means not having to pack, or move, or pay someone to pack or move. Call it inertia, call it laziness... I don't want to actually go through the motions of moving.

The size of my current apartment is a plus, I guess. I don't use the space I have very much so in a very real sense I could move into a smaller, cheaper place just fine. The good thing about having the extra space is I can afford to have people stay over for a weekend or a full week without going crazy. But even then, it's mostly just added convenience for them. As long as I have a door on a room I would imagine I'd be fine. I lived in a house with 7 other people in University and didn't go crazy, and my room in that house was not big.

Probably the only other plus is my bathroom has a tub. There are places with only a shower and that works for some people, but it wouldn't work for me. I can't handle showering very well, and I really like being able to relax and read in the tub. This isn't so much a plus for the current place, I guess, so much as a potential huge minus for other places.

Now, what do I hate about my current place? The big one is certainly the lack of climate control. The heat comes on at some point, and I don't get to control when it comes on or how hot it gets. I have a portable air conditioner but it's not powerful enough for the size of this apartment. Having really high ceilings hurts here. I can barely reach the ceiling when I jump as I high as I can. There's no need for that! It's extra space that I need to cool off!

I don't like that the bathroom sink has two faucets. I can have hot water or cold water, but not warm water unless I'm willing to fill up the sink. I find that annoying. Minor, but annoying. I don't like that the kitchen only has one sink, not two. It makes it annoying to do a proper wash and rinse. It doesn't help that the kitchen sink has no emergency overflow drain so I need to keep emptying the sink of water if I'm going to have a rinse option.

I don't like that this part of town shuts down at night. Especially while I'm unemployed, I'd like to be able to walk to the grocery store and buy food whenever I happen to get hungry. The grocery store here closes for 7 hours and I like to be awake during those 7 hours. I like going out when it's dark. It's less chaotic. But I also want to get somewhere relevant if I go out, and that's not the case around here.

It probably goes without saying, but I need reliable high speed internet access. I have that here, and I expect I'd have it anywhere else too.

It would be nice to have in apartment laundry. I don't like having to go all the way downstairs and hope that no one else is using the coin operated machines. Not a deal breaker, but it would be nice.

One worry is that I'll end up finding a new place, signing a 1 year lease, and then finding a job in another part of town or another city entirely. By staying where I am I can relocate with only two and a half months notice. Which is actually still a really long time. Most likely even if I broke a 1 year lease after 2 months or whatever they'd find someone else within 2 months anyway so I wouldn't actually be on the line for the remaining 10 months, just the same amount as my current place.

Another worry is that I'm unemployed and therefore may not get allowed to rent a new place at all. I know when I got this place I needed a reference from my job to show I could afford to live here. Maybe having money saved up and being on EI is good enough? I guess in this case it doesn't really hurt to look around anyway. Worst case they say no. But is it a reason to not just give notice here without finding a new place first? Probably.

As far as location goes, Sara is correct that moving into her building would be awfully convenient. Other than the grocery store it is pretty much the only place I seem to go. And that's with it being 35 minutes away. Not that I mind the subway or the walk. It's just a barrier to playing a small number of games. Think of all the extra games I could play if it was a 1 minute trip, not a 35 minute one...

And dealing with this heat wave thing is a big deal. This last week has not been great and it's got to be worth at least considering paying a little extra to not have to worry about it happening again next year. Or in the winter, when my apartment also feels similar to the way it does now when it gets warm, because I can't turn the heat off.


Matt said...

Do you have a fan? That can really help. I have an old one that you can use if you'd like (it's not so safe for kids).

Window air conditioning may also solve this problem.

What about proximity to me? I find that to be a huge plus! I wish I could run more boardgaming sessions so my proximity would rank.

I think you want to find a new job before you re-locate for exactly the reason you indicate.

In-apartment laundry is, if I recall correctly, tough to find outside of renting a condo from someone. I believe that can be expensive, but it's certainly a wonderful service. For a decade I went to my mom's every Sunday and did laundry there.

You make an excellent point about not getting approved for a place. Kate and I would not rent our condo to someone who was unemployed. Reliable income is key, and you don't want tenants who are bored/depressed/have too much free time. Some will use that time productively, but not all.

Nick Page said...

I have a fan, and it runs constantly in my bedroom, and it helps. But it's not the best. The portable AC also has a fan in it.

Proximity to you is very similar to proximity to Sky. I can count on one hand the number of times I've come over in a year. I've been to Sara and Duncan's building three times in the last week.

And at the end you go and prove Sky's point about progression. Someone without a job is seen as being more likely to be a bad person. Despite the fact that I net about $20 less per day on EI than I did at my job, and that I have no debt, and that I actually have money saved up to pay living expenses for quite some time. But because I'm off the normal progression path I'm strange and confusing and can't be trusted.

pounder said...

I was just going to mention that you could spend a reasonable amount on a/c and still be ahead relative to the cost of moving.

On the other hand, I suspect you could find a place that was more modern than yours and central air with a working local thermostat is awesome.