Monday, March 22, 2010

Too Bad The Clash Never Answered Their Own Question

I’ve shared in the past some of the issues with our current apartment -- creepy neighbors who seem to follow us from room to room, the fact that there isn’t a real door on our bedroom, the size and layout of the space -- but most recently we had a flood in the basement and after our landlords seemed to not only let it simply drain on its own but to also allow the dampness to fester, it prompted us to ask the age old question ‘should I stay or should I go (now)?’

You all know the next line and if you don’t feel free to check out the lyrics.

So we started looking at apartments with all of the amenities that we really truly would want in a space, mind you, some of which our current place does have but most it doesn’t. Two bedrooms plus a den (or study, loft, enormous extra storage closet, etc.), 2 bathrooms, a functional kitchen with a dishwasher and plenty of storage, decent closet space, a master bedroom sized to fit a king sized bed, a townhouse with no one above or below, parking for 2 cars and access to the T.

It all sounds easy enough, and truthfully it is, but when we started looking the harsh reality of the Boston housing market came to smack us around while it taunted us with dollar signs and 80’s décor.

The first place we looked at was in Norwood. ‘Where the hell is Norwood?’ you might wonder, don’t worry, I asked the same thing. Just south west of the city this fine town is located smack dab in the middle of the country. But we were encouraged to see that the property had everything on our list and then some.

The T isn’t just close, the commuter rail stops right at the community, the property manager told me I could faux every singe surface of the apartment (non-textural) as long as we painted over it when we left, washer/dryer in the unit, hardwood throughout, large private back patio with extra outdoor storage attached, and end units were available.

Those of you who know me know that I would likely spend little time on the patio because country = bugs and I just don’t do bugs. No matter how nice one’s patio furniture is spiders simply kill it for me. I shudder just thinking about it. Of course Matt would love it so that was a half a plus. It was in our price range but on the reaching end so neither of us were sure we wanted to reach quite that far to be quite that far from everyone; on a good day in no traffic it would take our family and friends at least 40 minutes to get there. Boo.

We went back on the hunt to look for communities and came across a newer complex in Southie. Right at the water’s edge and sort of next to UMass, the place consists of two really gorgeous semi high rise buildings. Based on their info online it had pretty much everything we were looking for but was a lot closer to our loved ones.

So we popped in and asked to see their 2+ bedroom unit. She quite literally frowned at us and said her next available appointment was at noon on Sunday. I referenced the ‘Open House’ sign on the front lawn and received no response. OK, thanks, bye.

On the same day we came across the find of all finds. A townhome community that had all the same stuff as the place in Norwood but it was located in Marshfield just a couple miles from Rexhame beach. Matt and I both grew up at the beach, the beach is where it’s at for us, and after spending a considerable number of years at the south shore, we know just where we’d love to land. Marshfield is a close runner up though so for a rental, it sounded perfect.

We saw photos online of the space and it looked great; nice community building, good size living room and bedrooms and their deluxe model even consisted of a front hall storage closet that was about the size of our current bedroom.

When we got there however, I instantly started singing Oh Mickey and was really bummed that I had left my can of Aqua Net and Balloons at home.

The kitchen was the first room on the left, half bath on the right. Both consisted of confetti and paint splatter style (?) rolled vinyl floors in shades of blue and pink plus white melamine cabinetry which could be doable but the rounded rectangle wood pulls really did nothing to make me want to sign a lease. In a final flourish, the countertops were squared off laminate. Oh yeah, and pink. Like, a grandmother’s bathroom, rose colored, pink. I hardly even noticed the deep pile, baby blue carpet everywhere once we got upstairs and saw that both full baths were decked out the same way.

No soundproofing between the units was a big concern of un-cosmetic proportions and although it did have 2 car parking and heat lamps in the bathrooms (score) it just didn’t seem worth the price considering it was only $100 less expensive than the country apartment.

Of course she did say that some units had forest green countertops and that they were just starting to remodel all of the community’s homes. Starting with the one bedrooms. I guessed we’d be almost retired by the time they got around to all of the townhomes considering the model was stuck in a time warp. We thanked her for her generous time and headed out on our merry way, a little dejected but hopeful.

On the way home we talked at great length about what to do. And then we continued to discuss it for the rest of the weekend. There are things about our current place that we just can’t change but one of the major draws of this apartment from the get go was the price. If we were to consider the place in Norwood, we’d be paying about $600 more a month, and I know that comes with a slew of ‘buts’ on the pro side of the page so it is a tough call.

With all that in mind we started talking about just renting a single family instead. Of course that conversation led right into buying a home. Now you all know we filed bankruptcy last year, as I’ve discussed in length before, so it will be a couple years before we’d be able to do anything about obtaining a mortgage.

So herein lies the dilemma -- stay here and save boatloads of money toward buying a home in a couple years but have to live daily with the creepy neighbors and a coin-op washer and dryer in a mold infested basement, or go and save a bit less money in the short term but be more comfortable in the daily flow of life.

As I type the question I am bombarded by what sounds like the people upstairs (the landlord’s son by the way) bowling in their living room. Sigh.

Matt plans to ask our landlord if we can make a few improvements around here (like new flooring in the kitchen, bath and mud room, a new vanity in the bath and permission to paint the stark white walls with the promise that they will be repainted when we go) and if they say yes to all of that we’ll likely just suck it up and stay for the foreseeable future.

I’ll just have to readjust my bathroom schedule so our neighbors don’t pee at the same time as me everyday, all the time, anymore.


pastrywitch said...

Ok - the creepy neighbors and the flooded basement are serious drawbacks. I question your landlord's sanity that he would not pump out the basement and deal with the mold.
I'd vote for improving the daily flow of life if it's at all doable.

Chris said...

Seems like the amateur bowlers ALWAYS get an upstairs apartment. Murphy's First Law of Housing, I suppose.

Suldog said...

I say a lot of it depends upon where you'd have to commute to, and the time it would take as compared to now. A drive into Boston each morning, and back to Norwood at night, could be nightmarish. It hinges on what time you'd have to take the ride. Traffic can be absolutely hideous during rush hours, as you may be aware.

Norwood has always seemed a nice place to be, though. I had friends who lived there, and the pace was nice. Most neighborhoods are relatively quiet compared to the city.

Good luck!

Bridgete said...

I am now reminded I need to check in with those friends who got the awesome deal in Malden. It really is a nice place, the whole thing is brand new, very tasteful decor (and I believe you can paint if you want). There's a dishwasher, disposal, and in-unit washer/dryer. Also, plenty of parking, and apparently there's a morning and evening shuttle that stops at the Orange line nearby and then goes all the way to Government Center. And it's very heat-efficient, which I know you'll love. Clearly the only thing I don't remember is how much rent is and what the complex is called, lol. I'll check though.

Almost Precious said...

Yikes Jenn, if the landlord won't take care of a serious problem such as a flooded basement, what would he do if your ceiling caved in ? Then you'd really be living with your upstairs creep!

Hope the place Bridgete talked about is priced right and meets with all your "must haves".

I could never understand the mentality of some landlords, why do they just let a place go to pot and never bother to do occasional'd think when they wanted to resell the place it would be more money in their pockets.Hmm, rose pink counter tops in the kitchen and blue shag carpets, was there a disco ball hanging from the living room ceiling ?

ginger said...

oh, beach here. then i vote for the 80's apartment. despite the decor, it seemed like the safest deal.

ginger said...

move to colorado!!!

spottedwolf said...

good thing ya don't have kidz'd be a ravinlooney by now. You need to lower your standards a bit.....exceptions to moldy basements....and raise your tolerances. Suz has the same dilemas at times. I don't think 'suck it up' is necessary. Just a little more accepting of where you are and where you project being.....

Rosebud Collection said...

You spooked me with the neighbors..Now the basement..I have to admit..not sure I could make it there. Whew!
Hope you find another place and a nice one, with nice neighbors.
Take care and enjoy the weather..we have been lucky.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

What a dilemma. But moving sucks and if you don't have to move...