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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dwelling on Dwellings

I have to admit, I’m starting to wonder if I’m dwelling a bit too much on my finances. I check my bank account balances almost every day. I’ve stopped checking my investment accounts daily, but still glance at them once a week in Microsoft Money. I’m constantly tweaking my YNAB spreadsheet and lamenting the fact that I’ve spent out of budget in a category and it wasn’t my fault! (Well, ok, every expense is my fault in that I initiate it, but when I get hit with expected fees months before I expected them, it hurts the budget.)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my current living situation. My apartment is too big. I love it, but it’s more space than I need (though I do manage to fill it with all my furniture and possessions. When I rented it, it was the only apartment available in the complex that I had fallen in love with. And I do still love the complex – it’s pet friendly, there are lots of amenities, and it’s in a good location. But when I rented it, I was under the impression that I was still receiving the sizeable raise at the one year mark of my fellowship that I was promised when I was hired. That (and other hiring incentives) have since been eliminated (but those are issues for another time).

The apartment is expensive. I still make ends meet, and I still put money into saving, but every so often, I find myself thinking of how much more I could be saving. If I just got a roommate who paid even less than half the rent (I do have the bigger bedroom with the en suite bathroom and my stuff pretty much fills the common space), and I stashed that away, my savings would be growing so much faster!

On the other hand, I’ve had some very bad experiences with roommates. Is it worth it to me to be spending a bit more and keep my sanity and my privacy? Quite possibly.

Plus there’s the fact that my rent will go up in September when I have to renew my lease. And my income will not be going up. Come September, I’ll hopefully be near to starting a new job, and while I do not want to take a pay cut, I might get stuck without a raise for a while.

I have a number of options. I can just suck it up and continue to pay the rent and enjoy the perks of living alone. I can find a roommate. I can try to move to a smaller apartment in the complex. I can move to a new apartment complex. Or I can start looking for a place to buy.

I’m not huge on the moving, and told myself I wouldn’t move until I bought a place. This seems to be the time to buy though. I’m just not sure how long I’ll be in D.C. I plan to stay with the federal government a minimum of three years, because that’s what it will take for all my retirement benefits to vest. Beyond that, I have no idea. Is it dumb to buy a place that I may only live in for 2 years? I don’t know.

It’s a lot to think about. And part of me doesn’t want to think about it at all. For now, I think I will focus on the small things – figuring out how to save while still spending enough to be able to have fun (one drink at the bar won’t kill me after all !).

4 comments:

asgreen said...

I don't think its dumb to buy a place that you will live in for only two years as long as you expect to rent it after those 2 years. Also, I live by myself and it is totally worth the extra cost. I'm just at the point in my life where my next roommate will be the guy I plan on marrying.

I guess it all depends on what you really want.

SavingDiva said...

I'm not an expert on the housing market, so I'll just keep zipped up.

Why don't you try looking for a roommate? If you find one you like, then great. If not, then keep your situation the same.

Tom said...

I would say the Government is doing everything it can to prevent housing prices from falling but I don't see it working. I would say the roommate is a good idea. People are looking to save money so it could be very reciprocal.

I don't see the residential housing market bottoming out until 2009 at the earliest.

Karen said...

I have the same problem as you; my apartment is expensive, but I don't want to live with a roommate after having a couple bad ones and one absolutely terrible one. I work by the Pentagon and live out in Loudoun County to be able to afford a one bedroom. Maybe you could see if smaller apartments will be coming available at your complex. Sometimes complexes will waive extra fees if you switch to a different unit.

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