This update came from blogger Jeff in Chicago:
Getting out of my parents house was the best decision I ever made. Although the bills and the added responsibilities of making my own food (I miss my Dad’s cooking for sure) is tough, I am out and about in a great city in my mid-20s.
I’ve been living with the same two roommates (Jeff and Mike) for roughly 1.5 years now. We’re still getting along, but some things have definitely changed. For instance, since about April 2007, we’ve been doing our own dishes. At first, we rotated dish duty. This worked with a varying degree of success depending on who you ask. I still feel I cleaned (and still clean) the most dishes. We also started buying our own food, which works best because we’re three hungry dudes who demolish the groceries in a day or two. Jeff got pissed when someone kept eating his brats, and nobody in Chicago likes their brats stolen.
If you have new roommates I would definitely give sharing food and dish duty a chance. Sharing food saves money. Rotating dishes saves time. We’re still pretty good at sharing beers. And, for the most part our apartment stays clean. Most importantly, we pay our bills on time. But, this was expected; otherwise I would not have agreed to move in.
One aspect of city living I did not budget for was the parking tickets. Stories about audacious cops quick to issue tickets were everywhere, but I kind of figured these stories were exaggerations. Don’t city police have more important things to do? I guess not. My first run-in happened like this: I parked in front of a fire hydrant with my flashers on. I was going to make a quick trip up to an apartment to buy a TV from a dude I met from Craigslist. I made a quick transaction and returned to my car to see a cop writing me a ticket. I was gone not even five minutes, and arrived with the TV in my hand but he still wrote me up.
The dreaded street cleanings are another story. The city puts notices in my area (some areas of the city have permanent signs) when street cleanings will occur. Usually, the East and South sides of streets are cleaned on the second Tuesday of the month between April and November. Then the next day the city cleans the other sides. During street cleaning cars cannot park between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the side that is to be cleaned. Easy enough to remember, at least that is what I assumed.
Tickets are rough business and something I did not fit into my budget when I was thinking about getting my first apartment. I probably got four for forgetting to move my car, plus a couple tickets from running through yellow lights (the city has cameras installed in certain intersections. If they catch you going through the light as it turn red you’re burned), I also just got a ticket for pulling a U-turn. Three unpaid tickets and you’re booted. Bogus.
Life is good, though. I feel like my first apartment is moving too fast. Last summer Mike and I, fresh in our new apartment and both recently coming out of long-term relationships, made the Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park our playground. According to the Chicago Reader, this area of Chicago has the highest per-capita percentage of single men and women in the city. We got to know the bouncers and bartenders, even snuck away with a few free drinks and cut in a few lines. Now, our apartment is quieter. We don’t go out as much. I don’t know if it’s because we both have girlfriends now, or because we’re both getting older, or maybe because it’s not as thrilling to having own place – it’s most likely a little of all three.
My advice to a person thinking about their first apartment – do it! Set your budget. Figure out what you can afford and hit Craigslist. Oh, and be diligent. Be patient and make sure the place meshes with your needs. Are you quiet? Do you need public transportation? Do you want a deck? There are always better places made available everyday. Don’t rush. Chill. It’s your first flippin apartment we’re talking about.