...because home doesn't happen overnight.
07.22.11 / Apartment It Is

We decided to go the apartment route versus staying with my dad.  Not that I don’t love my dad.  I do.  Lots.  It’s just going to be easier for everyone involved if we rent for a few months while we get the Underdog suitable for living.  I really appreciate all the comments left on the interim housing post a few days back.  Each one gave us something to consider.  In the end, the long commutes and time wasted driving {precious time that could be spent renovating or eating dinner together as a family} were huge deal breakers for the living-with-Dad option.  We like the idea of living near our new neighborhood so Layne can transition as easily as possible to his new school, we can get acclimated to the area, and we can oversee the Underdog renovation.  After we swiftly yet thoughtfully decided to take on apartment living, it’s been my job for the last 3 days to hunt down an apartment.  Easier said than done.

You see, we’re in need of a short-term lease.  A 3-month lease {versus your typical 12-month lease}.  And apparently 3-month leases are hard to come by – at least in the area we’re looking to move to.  Maybe it’s because of the subpar real estate market right now?  Maybe it’s because of the excellent school district?  I don’t know.  But I called about three dozen apartment complexes and rental properties and found only 3 that offered a 3-month lease option.  I know.  That’s a lot of 3’s.  Anyhow, one property said that while they did offer 3-month leases, they didn’t have anything that would become available until the end of August.  That would have left us homeless for 2 weeks since we close on our current home mid-August.  No good.

The second property was in an ideal location – close to the kids’ schools, close to the Underdog and close to the main roads that Handy Hubby and I traverse to commute to work.  I set up an appointment to view an open unit.  Great!  HOWEVER…the place was a complete dump.  And an expensive dump at that.  To my ignorant surprise, I discovered that short-term leases {i.e. anything less than 12 months} come with LOTS of fees on top of the monthly rent.  To the tune of $150-$200 per month. Ouch.  Still, even if this unit had been dirt cheap, I’m not sure it would have been worth it.  I fully expected not to find a pristine, luxury apartment with top of the line finishes.  I lived in apartments during my college years and this one didn’t even compare…in a bad way.  It smelled like stale cigarette smoke and I knew that smell wasn’t coming out anytime soon.  There was no green space for the kids to left off steam.  And the ‘stocked fishing pond’ looked more like a big mud puddle/mosquito magnet/cesspool.  I could not envision myself and my family living healthily or even safely there. But since it was one of my only two options, it stayed on the list.  Barely.

The third complex offering 3-month leases was located just outside our new city’s limits but still close enough to everything that we needed it to be close to.  In between working and packing and dropping stuff off at Goodwill, I made an appointment to see a 2-bedroom unit that had just opened up.  The boys and I drove up to see the place just this morning.  I was pleasantly surprised!  The unit was small and outdated but clean.  Lots of natural light and vaulted ceilings helped to make it feel bigger than it really was.  I thought, “This could really work!”  The boys took to it right away and started wrestling in the living room.  Me = embarrassed.  I talked with the manager about our situation {selling current home, renovating another home} and she said that the unit we were looking at was available now with no deposit required {some special they were running} and that if we could get our realtor to write her a letter saying that we were buying/had bought a home she would waive all those extra short-term lease fees.  I was sold.  A quick application and a few phone calls later, I secured our interim housing.

The unit is so much nicer than the previous one I had seen.  For one, there are 2 full baths versus 1 bath in the first place.  And it doesn’t stink.  The entire complex utilizes geo-thermal heating and cooling.  I had no idea apartments complexes even did that!  There is green space, a pool, playground and tennis courts for the kids to be kids since the apartment itself is teeny.  942 sq.ft. Yep, you read that right. 942.  It’s on the third floor which sucks for moving/unloading groceries and the residents below, but it gets us vaulted ceilings and the option to open our windows at night without me being paranoid that a kidnapper will strike.  Motherly paranoia.  Gotta love it.  Also, HH travels for work so I’ll feel more comfortable higher up away from robbers.  Listen to me!  The best part about finding this place?…it’s way cheaper than the first grungy one I toured. I guess because it’s outside city limits.  We’re saving nearly $1,000 over the 3-month lease span by going with this complex versus the other one.  It definitely pays to take time and uncover all your options.  Wanna know something crazy?  Our rent for the apartment is more than our mortgage payment on the Underdog by several hundred dollars. Ridiculous. That’s how cheap our Underdog is.  Also, our rent + Underdog mortgage payment is still less than our current home’s monthly mortgage payment.  Double ridiculous.

So before this gets too wordy {or am I too late?}, here’s the floor plan of our apartment.  All 942 sq.ft. of it.

It’s nothing special but it will do.  I’m a little nervous about the boys sharing a bedroom.  While I made over Layne’s bedroom into a shared bedroom for both boys, them sharing sleeping quarters hasn’t gone over smoothly.  They get rowdy and slap happy when they go to bed together.  We’ve reverted to putting Everett back in the nursery most nights.  Oh well.  We’ll make it work somehow. Are you wondering if I’ll tweak the apartment?  I thought so.  I definitely want to make it feel cozy and peaceful since it will be our safe haven away from the renovation dust.  So, yes there will be some tweaking but nothing over the top or expensive as we don’t plan on being there long-term.  I’ll be using furniture we already have and any new decor added will be budget-friendly or stuff that’s really meant for our new house.  I’ll still be working on plans for the Underdog after all!

That means in about one week {when our rental lease officially begins}, we’ll have 3 different living spaces on our plate: our current home that we’re packing and shining up for closing, our Underdog that is under renovation as I write, and our tiny apartment that will become our temporary home until the Underdog is livable.  Good grief!  So, please excuse me if I’m not able to post as frequently as I normally do or if I don’t return your email right away over the next week or two.  I’ll probably be busy packing, hauling, lifting, labeling, selling, donating or moving something. House*Tweaking has become my release, so I don’t think I’ll be able to step away for that long.  I just can’t guarantee those 4-5 weekly posts for the sake of sanity right now.  I hope you understand!

images:  1) Rayna’s Spot  2)  Earn the Money  3) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

 

 

30 Comments

22.July.2011

Glad you found something! Would you ever consider doing a nuts and bolts post about the costs of the old house, the new house, the renovation, the apartment, etc. and how this new situation will let you live the lifestyle you want? I know you’ve alluded to it a lot, but I’d be curious to read about actual dollars and cents. Obvs. rather private, but if you’re willing to share, I’m sure others are interested!! Love the blog!

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replied on July 22nd, 2011

Ruth – Once we close on our current home, I’d definitely be willing to divulge more money details. I just want everything to be official before I jump the gun. Same for ideas and advice on selling by owner. I think it’s be a little premature to talk ‘sold’ when it wasn’t legally sold yet. More to come!

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22.July.2011

wow – you really will be busy!
you must be glad that you’ve finally made the decision.
all the very best for the moves.
cheryl xox.

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22.July.2011

That sounds like a great choice and great that you found a place for 3 months! That didn’t smell like stale smoke! Woohoo!

Our two (3 and 1.5) share a room and we put the baby down about 30 minutes before his older sister. Usually that means he’s asleep before she comes in for bed. That being said, they usually sort of babble to each other for a while before falling asleep… She wakes him up a bit, he’s in and out of sleep… But it works overall:) Good luck!

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22.July.2011

Ha…. ha…… you think 942 square feet is small. That’s funny. My house (that we own) is 720. THAT is teeny.

Glad you guys picked the apartment, it seems like it makes the most sense. Can’t wait to see new updates on the Underdog!

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22.July.2011

My first apartment was a 2-bedroom 1-bath and 850 square feet. We had people visiting all the time, but it never really felt cramped, so I’m sure you will all be fine in your third living space! There were also a number of families in the same community with three or four kids in the same apartment style, so you’re more than likely not the first (or the last) family to squeeze that many people into that apartment. Sounds like you got a great deal too!

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22.July.2011

Awesome news!! I think you made a wonderful decision & so glad to hear you got a great deal and there is a playground & pool to keep the kids occupied. I’m sure the balcony will become your favorite place to relax in the evenings, and best of luck with the boys sharing a room. I can’t wait to see how you tweak the apartment, as well as the latest updates with the Underdog! woohoo for progress!

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22.July.2011

I am glad you guys chose apartment life… I think the convenience will save you lots of headaches. It sounds like the manager of the community is willing to work with you as much as they can. As I am sure you know, renovations can often take longer than expected, so be sure to communicate with them early if you think you may need more time. There usually is a fee for staying on month to month (if you don’t think you need 3 more months), but you may be able to get them to waive that.

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replied on July 22nd, 2011

Virginia – Once we fulfill our 3-month lease, we will be able to rent on a month-to-month basis if necessary {i.e. things at the Underdog move slower than expected}. The short-term lease fees are less on the month-to-month lease because our original lease has been fulfilled HOWEVER, I think we’d be exempt from those fees as well as long as we have our realtor letter.

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22.July.2011

Yay! Congrats on finding the apartment. I bet that’s a load off! I hope everything goes smoothly with the packing and such.

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22.July.2011

hang in there! we’ve lived in smaller spaces for several months with our 2 kids between moves (including a 900 sqft cottage and a 2 bedroom Residence Inn suite!), you can do it!

how big is that walk-in closet? if it’d fit a toddler-sized bed, could it serve as a sleeping nook for Everett (with the door open, of course!)?

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replied on July 22nd, 2011

Carole – The closet as a sleeping nook?! I like it. Never thought of that before. We may revert to that if bedtime becomes a hassle.

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22.July.2011

Just remember, it’s temporary housing!

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22.July.2011

I was in a similiar position recently – we moved out of our house into an apartment while we renovated our house. I found a furnished apartment (they are called “corporate apartments”) through craigslist for three months and we stored all our belonging in the garage at our house. My two boys (ages 4 and 6) shared a room for the first time. When living in our house they tried “sleeping over” in each other rooms and it was always a disaster, with having to move one child out an hour after the sleepover started. I fully expected the family to lose sleep for the 3 months of our apt stay. But guess what? They loved sharing a room and learned to go to bed without the slap happy laughing/crying times! I hope the same happens for you.

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22.July.2011

Sounds like a great place. I have to agree that 942 is not teeny. My house is 870. My kids share a room too and we’ve got the same problem with them fooling around instead of going to sleep.

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22.July.2011

We’ve been in the same tough spot between moves, with 2 boys and a dog, you can do it! Make it an adventure and just remember, kids take their que from you, if you have fun and handle it well, so will they!

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22.July.2011

Sounds like you made a great choice!

I will say, though, that everything is relative. 942 sq.ft. for a 2BR in NYC is BIG. In the least expensive area of lower Manhattan, that place would run you a minimum of $3000/month…and you’d have no pool, tennis courts, or energy-efficiency. Maybe a courtyard small enough for a chihuahua to exercise in, and probably a long hike to the subway. In fact, I just showed a 2BR place to a client, that was about 600 sq. ft. So, from my NYC perspective, you just got a great deal, sister!

Would love to see pics!

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replied on July 22nd, 2011

Rebecca – Will post apartment pics as soon as our lease begins!

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22.July.2011

I can’t wait to see what you do to the apartment!

When my kids were younger & we only had a two bedroom apartment they shared a room. They miss sharing a room, and I actually sort of miss it too. They would talk in bed and unwind before falling asleep, and I overheard some of the cutest conversations at bedtime. I think it helped them bond in a way that they would have missed entirely had they not shared a room. Of course there were those giggly nights (of course when I or they were most tired & needing sleep pronto) but overall it was a great experience. Hopefully when the novelty of the new setup has worn off they will fall into a nice routine.

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22.July.2011

So glad the apartment you picked worked out nicely! Best wishes with everything in the next few months – I’m sure they will fly by. :)

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22.July.2011

Congrats on finding a good place! The 3 months will be over before you know it.

And when I saw 942sqft, it sounded wonderful. We’ve been living in 730sqft for the last 8 years and it would be so amazing to have an extra room. From your floor plan it looks like most of the extra space went to a dining area and walk-in closet, which we don’t have. Enjoy it ;)

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Congratulations on finding your interim housing! It’ll definitely pay off to be close to the Underdog and keep your sanity/family time. I am loving following your journey!

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22.July.2011

Perhaps a low book shelf separating the boys’ beds into two slightly distinct little spaces? The dimensions of something similar to the EXPEDIT turned on its side might would work well. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50103086

My toddler slept in a closet (door open) for several months when we were in circumstances similar to yours … Cozy!

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22.July.2011

When I was a senior in high school, my dad moved from California to Ohio for a new job, with the rest of the family planning to move after I graduated. In the middle of that year, we sold our house and rented a house in CA, while my dad was living in a rented house in OH, while our house in OH was being built. So for a brief time, my family had FOUR houses to our name! It was insane. My mom had to go to OH to check on progress on the house, leaving me in charge of my younger sister. Meanwhile, packing had to be divided into a million categories (things to take to college, things to keep at the rental in CA, things to send to the rental in OH, things to keep packed until moving to the real house in OH…etc). So I feel your pain :) Just remember that it will all be worth it in the end.

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24.July.2011

We had a six month lease for our home renovation. Three kids in one room. Had the mattresses on the floor with a laundry basket at the foot of the bed to hold their toys and clean clothes. This was all I allowed them to bring from the house. It was like a barrack.
I put on an audio book each night. They wanted to listen to the story so there was no fooling around or talking! Worked like a charm. It is all in your attitude. My kids loved the whole adventure.

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Congrats. It sounded touchy for a while there, but seems like it’s all going to work out. My boys have shared a bedroom for nearly 10 years. Sometimes it works better than others. If there are keeping each other up talking and giggling, it’s really cute. The nights where they argue, well, one boy might go into our bedroom to fall asleep and we bring him back to his room later. Divide and conquer when you must.

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24.July.2011

We have twins who share a room and are very rowdy at night so we put one of them to bed in our bed and then transfer him into his room when we go to bed. This has really worked for us. Good luck!

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25.July.2011

So glad you found something that will work!! and yes absolutely tweak it! you’ll need a respite from all the construction chaos:) I grew up in an 800 sq foot house…with 9 people! I have 6 siblings plus my parents-it was crowded and we ALL shared A room-BUT we are so close as a family-being so tightly squeezed you had to get along with everyone! SO I’m sure y’all will make it work! haha:)

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I know it’s all a pain now but in the end it will have all been worth it…For 3 months My hubby lived in one state packing our old place while I lived with a friend in another state securing our new living arrangements….

I’m like you worrying about robbers and kidnappers…LOL

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25.February.2012

Can you tell me where the chandelier is from and where I may be able to attain one just like it or, a close runner up?

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