Thursday, December 06, 2007

Places we have looked at, or, I wonder what being homeless feels like?

1. A lovely two-bedroom central city apartment. Sunny, perfect condition, a little bigger than we have here. Rent = $370 a week (for comparison's sake, we are currently paying $320). Number of people at the showing: 20+. Many of them filled out applications on the spot.

2. A two-bedroom apartment three blocks north of our current place. Horrible horrible horrible. Big mould stains on the ceiling. Tiny and ugly and sunless. No bicycle rack or space. Swarming with cats (actually, I think this was a redeeming feature). Rent = $380 a week. Number of people at the showing: four.

3. A two-bedroom apartment in our current building. Slightly bigger than our current one. Windows in both bedrooms (we only have a skylight in one). Signs of water damage. Rent = $395 a week. Private showing.

4. A two-bedroom house about 20 minutes drive from university. Beautiful, sunny rooms. Lovely garden. Huge French doors in every room. Good condition apart from some roof tiles needing replacing, termite shields needing installation (WTF are termite shields?) and some garden work. Sale price = $330,000+. Offer would have needed to be made immediately. If it wasn't for the location (we'd need a new car) and for the fact it was the first place for sale we've viewed, I'd have made an offer.

5. A three-bedroom house around 20 minutes cycle ride (uphill) from university. Big garden with fruit trees. House in average condition, nice enough. Looks like it would be cold in winter, though (windows don't seal properly, minimal heating). Rent = $360 a week. Number of people at the showing: 30-ish? (And that was 10 minutes before the showing officially began: we were out of there by the time it really started).

What we are looking for:

(a) Two-bedrooms, easy cycling distance to university, no obvious water damage, rent preferably under $350 (although we are starting to realise that might be unrealistic). Long lease.


(b) Two bedroom separate title house or townhouse, within a radius that means we could cycle to university if we absolutely had to (i.e. within 45 minutes or so), good condition, $350,000 or under. Quick sale.

Why is this so impossible? We currently live in an example of (a), and I've seen plenty of (b) on the market in the past.



Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

One idea might be to put the word out via e-mail with an offer to house-sit for someone out of town on sabbatical... If you have a department listserve, I'd probably start there... ask them to think about friends and colleagues leaving town for a few months. It is a small investment in time and it might pay off. People don't usually think about hosuesitters in these situations until a person comes to mind.

Y'all are trustorthy and mature, and your connection to the university NOT as undergrads is a huge plus. You can use your current landlord as a reference and you could even put down a deposit if necessary. Then, if you could figure out how to either store your furniture or squeeze it into the new place, you'd be set.

StyleyGeek said...

I really don't want to housesit: the costs (financial, time and emotional!) of moving are too high to do it twice in a short space of time.

The Scientist said...

this is exactly why my girlfriend are moving to another share house next year... we simply can't afford to have our own place, despite the fact that both of us will be on what i thought were quite big phd scholarships at the same place you were at... :)

'tis a shame.

The History Enthusiast said...

How does the Australian dollar compare to the American dollar...I'm just curious, because a $320 apartment where I live would be a real steal. I currently pay $550 for my one bedroom.

StyleyGeek said...

The Australian dollar isn't much below the American dollar any more. But I'm surprised at how much your room costs, HE. My calculations put that at $28,000 a year. If you don't mind me asking, how do you afford that as a PhD student? Our scholarships are reasonable, but they'd never cover that much for housing.

I think most students in shared housing here pay around $170 a week for a room, which works out to about $9000 a year, i.e. half their scholarship.

Bardiac said...

It's interesting that you calculate your expenses by the week there; is that common? In the US, most apartments that I've heard of are all rented by the month (not that I've done an exhaustive research project on the topic or anything).

My mortgage (by my rough calculations) is lower than your rent. Wow.

StyleyGeek said...

I think all rent calculations in Aus and NZ are weekly (although generally you pay fortnightly). When I lived in Germany, rent was usually stated as a monthly amount, though.

If we bought a place here, the mortgage payments would be about the same as the rent on any of the places we've viewed so far. But then we would have to calculate in taxes and rates, initial buying costs, selling costs, and lost interest on our savings. In the end, it's hard to tell which is a better financial decision, which is why we are looking at both options. The only big catch is that we could rent centrally, but there are practically no houses in the central city, and we don't really want to either (a) buy an apartment or (b) buy a place in suburbia so far out that we'd need a new car as well!

StyleyGeek said...

And insurance and maintenance costs too, of course!

The History Enthusiast said...

Yeah, I pay monthly. I only made $19,000 last year, including teaching and my part-time job (which pays quite well, but sadly, is only temporary). I definitely couldn't pay $29,000 for an apartment! Geez Styley, you really are paying an arm and a leg! I think I pay around $7000 a year, including the carport fee and the gas to heat my water. Thankfully my apartment complex covers the water bill, sewer, and trash. I have my own renter's insurance policy.

Also, for some perspective, I live in a college town, not a city, and my apartment is nice, but not *really* nice. I think most of my friends pay around $750 a month for a really nice apartment with vaulted ceilings, washer/dryer hook-up, etc.... Of course, I live in the Midwest, where the cost of living is much cheaper.

Anyway, I hope that you have some luck...I know the process of moving really sucks!

The History Enthusiast said...

P.S. The only time I house-sat for a moderate length of time (a couple of weeks), it was the absolute worst experience EVER. Long story. Anyway, don't do it, because it may make your life miserable. Or, at the very least, it will be somewhat unpleasant.

EcoGeoFemme said...

I don't blame you for not wanting to housesit. I did it for 3 years without meeting the owner until I moved out. It was weird. It was a very good deal financially, but I wouldn't do it again. It's weird to live among another's things. You never feel like you're really settled or home.

Good luck finding something.