Lease Is Up: To Move or Not to Move?

Alissa and I just realized our lease is up for renewal. So, do we move, or sign on for another year? The answer isn’t always easy, and it’s a question that many of you will face at this time of the year. To help you with the decision, I’ll break down the different factors you need to consider (assuming you know you want to continue living with your current roommate(s)):

  • Neighborhood. Does your neighborhood’s vibe match what you’re interested in? For example, I currently live in a football-obsessed, recent-graduates-of-Big-Ten-schools enclave. I’m more interested in vegan bakeries and lit fests. It might seem that this discordance doesn’t matter, but you’ll be more comfortable if you live in a place where there are activities and people you enjoy.
  • Space/Layout. Is the layout comfortable? – for example, can one of you watch television in the living room at a normal volume, without bothering people who are reading in their bedroom? Is there a nice common area, where you regularly chat with your roommates, and that each of you takes an interest in? Is the bathroom well located, or is it right next to one person’s room? Is the kitchen large enough to cook in? Do you get enough natural light? These things are all worth considering, because a poor layout subtly eats away at your psyche, while a great layout is worth holding onto.
  • Landlord. Have you been treated well? Is your place well-maintained? Do you trust your landlord to act quickly and effectively in a disaster situation, such as water damage or a burglary? In short, how has the landlord affected your quality of life?
  • Location. Is it easy to get to work? Are your friends nearby? Even if you like everything listed above about your apartment, if your commute to work is an hour each way, you may still be miserable. Or, if your friends always meet up far from you, you may feel like your location is a burden. Take these issues seriously…
  • Money. As you might guess, moving costs more. How much more depends on a lot of factors. If you have a vehicle, or a friend with a pick-up, and you don’t have that much furniture, and all your friends are willing to pitch in, the move might end up costing you only the price of a few pizzas and brews to show your thanks. On the other hand, if you need to hire a mover, minimums are usually around $250 and the total fee can easily escalate to $500-700…
  • Time. Moving will take time. If all goes well, it will  take the equivalent of three full weekends, minimum. Yes, that’s right. One weekend’s worth of time to find your new place, one weekend to pack up and move, and one weekend to unpack and get your new place feeling homey. That said, though “wasting” three whole weekends on a move may seem like it’s a deal-breaker, it shouldn’t factor strongly into your decision. Think about it this way: For all the work you put into it, you’ll get many more great weekends in your new place. Think of it as an investment.

As for us, we decided to move. Why? Well, I’ll break it down using our factors. First the good: our location is easy for us both to get to work (I can even walk!), and a few of our friends live nearby (though nearly as many live elsewhere). On the negative side of the ledger, we don’t jibe with the neighborhood and the layout of our apartment is such that we’re always in each other’s way (and our bedroom is so small that we can barely fit our double bed into it). Finally, and most maddeningly, our management company is one of those that does just enough to get by, but no more. And irritations and problems like poorly functioning central air, a toilet that tends to run, a filthy laundry room, extremely drafty windows (that I personally spent a day insulating), and poor-quality deadbolts (that a burglar was able to pop off) all make living here seem more a chore than a pleasure. So we’re moving.

In short, even if moving seems overwhelming, time-consuming and a bit expensive, you should enjoy where you live. If you need to move to do that, it’s probably worth it – once you get settled, you’ll notice an almost-immediate improvement in your quality of life. Or, at least, that’s what we are expecting.

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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