Five things I’ve learned in four years of renting

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Two months after graduating college I got my first apartment (I lived in the dorms all four years of college to save money). I roomed with two girls I went to church with and made it a year to ‘find myself and find a stable job’. It was an interesting experience and probably the roughest year for me due to feeling ‘lost’ and my mom battling cancer. Since then, I’ve lived in three other apartments and in the last five years I’ve learned a lot about renting. I plan on buying a house when I’m in my 30s and decide where I want to settle. Until then, I have travel plans! So what have I learned?

Cheap appliances aren’t worth a hoot

My current apartment complex buys cheap appliances, the carpet and tile are clearly lower end and bottom line, you can tell it’s a rental they expect to fix every couple of tenants. Previous apartments haven’ been quite this bad. My former landlord bought quality appliances and boy could you tell a difference. When I do buy a house, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll buy something that is reliable as opposed to the cheap option!

Check the lease

Life happens and sometimes you need to break a lease. Personally I prefer month to month leases, but those are rare. When I sign a lease, I make sure I can afford to get out if something bad happens AND have an emergency fund to help me along if that happens to pay bills and find a new place. I review my lease quarterly to check for any small things that need to be done as well as when it ends.

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(I pay a lot in rent, but being close to festivals, 5K’s, stores and more is worth it!)

Getting what you pay for

Somethings are worth paying extra in terms of rent. It pays to live in a nicer area as opposed to a seedy area. Sometimes amenities factor in here as each person has their own list of what they need/want. For me, it’s worth paying extra for convience and not having roommates. Yes, I could save $500 a month sharing my place, but I’m an introvert and I’d rather pay the extra to live alone. Also, I live close enough to walk to the library, grocery store and work, so the $1200 I pay a month is worth it in what I save in gas and sanity.

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Consider moving

I’m very blessed to have an amazing family. Moving often serves as a reminder to that as I often have a large moving crew of family and friends when I move. I’m sorry to say I do have a lot of stuff (hence my ‘declutter goal’ I set every year), so it comes in handy. That said, it does make me hesitate to move since packing is draining. It was costly for me to move last time due to a broken lease, but hopefully I don’t find myself in that situation again!

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Happiness

Remember, the place you pay money to rent is your home. If you’re not happy with it, consider ways to make it a happy place. For me, home is a place where I can relax, be productive, feel safe and have space for friends who come by or need a place to stay. I’m very happy with where I live now and I enjoy being home (not to sound like a homebody—I mean I have all my crafts, books and video games here!) My apartment is also a reflection of myself in some ways from my book collection to wall of famous people, it feels like home and I feel happy and relaxed here.

What are things you’ve learned from renting?

An introverts dilemnia

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I sat down at my desk and looked up at the clock, 2:37, I read.  All my students had left school via bus or parents and I was left with an afternoon of planning ahead of me.  As a teacher, getting breaks can vary wildly depending on your school.  I’ve been in schools where I had 1-2 hour long lesson planning ‘breaks’ and ones like mine where it was rare to have a lesson planning period (our only guaranteed break is 30 minutes for lunch). Depending on the day, I can find myself with a really quiet lunch or one where there are too many people in the staff room to even think.  It’s not a ‘friendly’ situation for an introvert to be caught in, at least not long-term.  Luckily I’m often in late lunch periods that have either one other teacher or none at all.

 

I’m a very energetic person and very-people centered.  Therefore it surprises some to hear that I’m an introvert.  More specifically, according in Myers-Briggs, an INFJ, ‘the counselor’.  As someone who knows how they function quite well, I know that I need a break after students leave for 10-15 minutes to collect my thoughts.  After that, I’ll be raring to go for meetings and to to tackle lesson plans, create materials or do other work tasks.  This is time I need.  I’m not being lazy, I come in early everyday and work quite diligently outside my needed introvert break.  Everyone needs it (it’s a need not a want for most people).  Don’t worry, there’s a point to these tangents!

Me time

As I sat at my desk, collecting my thoughts and responding to text messages I’d received (I don’t touch my phone save for lunch and after kids leave and certainly not during meetings), another teacher approached me.  It was clear that I was relaxing at my desk and in the middle of texting someone, yet she pulled up a chair and began talking nonstop about something.  I adore her and enjoy talking to her, but this is my ‘break’.  I tried to give non-verbal cues that right then wasn’t a good time to talk and I’d be more than happy to talk in a minute, but she kept going on.  I found myself in the position that many introverts dread and make them mentally cry–someone is in your space during your ‘recharge’ time and an extroverted friend isn’t getting it.

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My teacher friends are split between extroverts and introverts.  Yesterday I talked to another teacher whose an introvert and she confessed to the same thing.  Extroverted family, friends and colleagues, whom we love and/or enjoy being around, just don’t get our ‘down time’.  Growing up, my parents criticized me for needing alone time and told me to get over it.  They’d even go far enough to point out individuals, who were introverts and amazing people that ‘you don’t want to end up like them, they have no friends and are difficult people’.  It wasn’t until college that I realized it was ok, thanks to wonderful mentors and friends. We’re all wired differently, some of us relish in alone time, others around people and both are perfectly fine, neither is better or worse.

Extrovert-introvert

As an INFJ, I’m very people centered.  I frequently visit friends who don’t live nearby, love doing things with friends and helping out anyone who needs help or an ear to hear.  I just need time to recharge in my own element.  If one were to look at my schedule, they’d see a teacher who gives off an extroverted vibe at work because she connects so deeply and talks a lot with those around her, during the day.  In the evenings, she might grab dinner with a friend or see a movie once a week, but otherwise she’s at home reading, gaming, doing a craft etc. by herself.  Weekends are usually split with one day dedicated to 1:1 time with a friend (maybe 2-3 at most) and a day to ‘recover’.  Living alone helps a lot as my home is my space (something I’ll continue until I a) can’t afford it or b) get married.

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My dear extroverts, we love you and enjoy spending time with you, heck we admire your ability to keep going and reach out to people!  However, we need time to ourselves and you gotta understand that.