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.

stuff

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?

Memorial Day weekend

Mission Organization: 21 Ideas on Organizing Your Teacher Area (Creative chalkboard)

What a week it’s been since last Sunday! I was waiting until the official announcement, but I was promoted from Teaching Assistant to Teacher at my school recently and started this past Monday. It’s going to take a while to get used to, but I’m off to a good start! I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group of people to work with either. The next couple of weeks will be devoted to setting up my classroom, getting to know my students and learning the joy of paperwork in Special Education. It’s a process and one that I’m taking over gradually, but I love it!

coffee(pretty much these days!)

It does mean extra time at work, but I haven’t minded the drive since I found a shortcut to work that’s cut my 90 minute commute to 60 minutes. Last post, I said that my commute was a killer, but it seems more doable now and I’ve decided to prolong it until August. I’ll be housesitting one week in July and off for a week in June and July, which makes things easier (plus I have vacation time if I get to my wits end OR I can stay with friends in the area or nearby). This plan also allows me to pay off a good chunk of debt and buy a few things I need/want in the next few months. Not stressing about money for the first time in my life is an amazing, wonderful feeling!

 

Life rattles aside, I’ve been reading a good bit this past week and lately I’ve been tackling this monster;

Marvel

It’s a fantastic book and every Marvel comic lovers dream.  Admitably I got into Marvel through the movies, but it got me into the comic book origins (but even those have different origins).  It’s going to take a while to get through, but I’m savoring every character sheet.  I’m also still making my way through a few novels on the side since this is more of a reference book.

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Since it’s Memorial weekend here in the US, I have tomorrow off and I’m enjoying have an extra day off with no driving.  Yesterday I volunteered at a nearby festival with a friend and attended a Veteran memorial dedication.  Today I plan on taking it easy, though I may run a few shopping errands nearby this evening or tomorrow.  It’s nice to have a short week and by Tuesday I should be rested enough for a 4 day work week!

 

What are your plans for the weekend? 

 

Finding the will to commute

Wits End

Commuting an hour to work and another hour back home is rough. When traffic is bad the commute can range between an extra fifteen minutes to an additional hour. It’s not fun, yet many people do commute 30+ minutes to work and do it for years. My cousin has been driving two hours to work and another two back for the last four years. He has a really good job and doesn’t mind it. Some enjoy the drive and I did too at first. However..

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My commute is slowly killing me.

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I’ve been through my small CD collection to the point I have no interest in my CDs. Audiobooks don’t work and most radio stations don’t help. When I get to work I sit at my desk for 10 minutes, drinking coffee and feeling like a zombie. I’m fine during the day—it’s not affecting me at work at all, but when it comes time to make that drive, I half want to run to a friends house nearby and crash for the night.   The good thing is that I’m finally recovered from my moving expenses and have enough saved up that I could move. The bad thing is I want to pay off some student loans to help myself out and get a few things (i.e. replace my laptop).

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I work in Northern Virginia and the cost of living there is insane! The nice apartments start at $1000 for a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and that’s before utilities like internet and electric! Some may offer the suggestion of a roommate, but it’s out of the question for me. I like living by myself and I’m willing to pay the difference to not have one.

End Road Work #protest #funny #humor

My original plan was to move June 20th, but now I’m not sure since I could use the rent to pay off a student loan and then some. Due to pre-planned trips and holidays, I couldn’t move again until the middle of July. It’d give me time to pay off some serious debt, but it’d mean extending my time to commute. Not moving until July 11th means I’d have to commute another 7 weeks (we’re off a week in June so no driving, hurray!) I don’t know if I can handle it, but if I could, I could pay off two student loans and still have money for rent and deposit without putting any stress on my wallet.

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Being someone who needs to plan ahead, it’s causing me a bit of stress. I can’t really do anything about it right now, of course. I’ve been reminding myself that I’m saving a ton of money not renting and to just let things happen. If it’s meant for me to move the 20th, I’ll move. If not, moving July 11th won’t be the worst thing in the world, at least it’d be a definite move date. I’ve commuted ten weeks so far, what’s another 7 weeks? We’ll see if I can hold until July!    

What’s the longest you’ve commuted to work?  How long did you do it?

Life in April

April is going to be a really good month, I can sense it!  Between the Matsuri festival next weekend, a 5K the following weekend and it being the month where spring kicks into high gear, it’s set to be fantastic!

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This will be my first full month back in my hometown and with all my moving expenses taken care of, I can focus on relaxing for a while before worrying about finding a place to rent.  After being on a really tight budget for the last two years, it’s nice to have a reprieve and not pay rent.  Plus it’s just nice to enjoy being close to family and friends for one and seeing them more than a few times a year. At the moment, my plan is to move into a place closer to work in August or September.  I mostly want to give myself time in the area around my hometown and time to save up money/pay off debt.

One of my favorite events of the year is the Matsuri festival in Washington D.C. (April 11th).  I’ve been going with a group of friends every year for the last two years and it’s always a blast.  We’ve been lucky to have peak bloom the week we’re there too (see above picture).  I’m not sure if we can count on it this year since our temperatures are only now hitting spring-time temperatures.  Even so, there will be plenty to see and do at the Matsuri festival (maybe it won’t be so crowded this year?)

April is also Autism awareness month. As my profile says, I’m a Special Education teacher and specifically an Autism teacher.  I’ll be participating in a 5K this month to help raise money and I’ll be doing things throughout the month to raise money and awareness.

 

With all the changes in the last month, I haven’t had a chance to really work on my goals for 2015.  I’m behind on most of my goals and since I’ll be doing a quarterly report at the end of the April, I need to get things going.  I’m hoping to get in more reading time this month and get back into crafting at the very least.

 

 What do you have going on in April?

 

 

 

Spring Break commencing!

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There’s something nostalgic and endearing about moving back to the area you grew up in. I may have also stated it before, but if you’d told me I’d move back here in four years after graduating college, I would have argued with you. Yet, here I am and I’m enjoying the reprieve for the most part. Relocating takes some adjustment and I’m happy to see myself getting accustomed to the commute (an hour both ways) and having extra money (no utilities or rent!) I changed over my last account yesterday to my new address and I’m excited to be getting renters insurance refund AND money back from my car insurance. Since this town has more cows than people, it means costs in general are lower.

ffv (official artwork)

I’m also starting to pick up my hobbies again, after a bit of a hiatus due to the move and beginning a new life routine of sorts. I’m still playing Doctor Who Legacy (finally making more progress thanks to daily bonus’ on specific items) and last weekend I bought Final Fantasy V for my Ipad. I haven’t made a lot of progress on Final Fantasy V, but Doctor Who has been more of a go to since it’s a puzzler I can play while watching Torchwood or a movie. I haven’t picked up FTL: Faster Than Light in a while, but I think continuously playing it on break while packing burned me out on it a bit.

 

The nice thing about the coming week is that I’m off most of the week! This week is our spring break (though we have school tomorrow and Tuesday). I’m looking forward to relaxing, catching up with friends and getting a couple things knocked off my to do list. Maybe it’ll even warm up so I can wash and vacuum my car.

 

::Fun finds this week::

A friend mentioned the below video to me last night. A Whovian asked Christopher Eccleston to assist in his proposal to his girlfriend and he agreed. The video quality is low, but what an amazing way to ask!

 

Emerging into Spring

It was two weeks ago yesterday that I officially moved back to my hometown. I’m still getting into the grove of being back home and in ways, I’ve forgotten about my life in my old city (not the friends of course, whom I talk to almost daily). My hometown has a very different atmosphere being that there are more cows & chickens that people (compared to never seeing them unless you drove miles out of town), not having many stores and the highlight of social engagement requiring a drive into a nearby city 30 minutes or more away. I work in the city, but I often find myself meeting up with friends there or making solo trips to stores and venues. If someone told me 4 years ago when I graduated college I’d be happy to be back in the boonies, I wouldn’t believe them. Yet, here I am and I’m happy to be here for a while.

(photo taken last year)

Spring (despite us getting snow Friday) is starting and the weather couldn’t feel more invigorating. There are Crocus’ coming up in yards and I’ve seen a few marigolds on my daily walk on my grandmother’s road. This is my favorite time of year and for once, I feel that having a slower paced life is offering me the opportunity to appreciate it a bit more! What I’m really looking forward to is the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. in 3 weekends. I go there with a group of four other friends every year to the Matsuri festival and to view the trees. It’s one of the things I look forward to the most every year!

Goong

Yesterday was gorgeous and I pulled out a book to read. Way back when, I used to read Manga and Manwha, a hobby that I recently wanted to get back into. I picked up Goong using store credit from a bookstore Friday and plan on trading in and out manga for the time being. When I applied for my library card in the city I work in, I discovered I need to live in the area to use it. Alas, all those books are just out of my reach!

 

I terms of gaming, I’ve been playing Final Fantasy V and Doctor Who Legacy. Final Fantasy V is a game I picked up in high school, but didn’t get through, but since it’s on my Ipad (meaning I can play it while watching Netflix), I’ll get through it pretty quick. I got my aunt into Sherlock and recently started watching Torchwood. I really like Russell T. Davies writing/creative direction, science fiction and Captain Jack Harkness is one of my favorite Doctor Who companions, so Torchwood is right up my alley.

068 (more Cherry Trees from last year)

My temporary relocation stuff is almost complete and I have a graduate school meeting tomorrow. I’ll be starting my Masters in Special Education in Spring 2016, so all I need to finish up is the paperwork and save up the money. I still have my undergraduate debt to deal with, but my Masters will only run my around $14,000. By living with family, I’m able to pay off huge chunks of my student loans and save up for my masters degree. I am still waiting on getting my rent deposit and first paycheck from my new job, but those will come at the end of the month. Moving and getting a new job was a big decision, but as time goes on, I know I made the right move and couldn’t be happier!

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Have you had any big changes in your life lately?

Relocating: A week later

It’s hard to believe how much has transpired in the last week and a half. I moved away from the city I was living in for almost three years and left my job to move back home after getting a job offer. My new job is amazing and I’m excited for my future there.  A lot has happened and it’s amazing how less stressed I feel, how much more I can do and simply the fact I feel I can dream again.

 

Travel

This past weekend I took a trip to North Carolina to Wizard World Raleigh and met the wonderful David Tennant. He’s an amazing man and it was an honor to meet him!  I love to travel and having the money, energy and time to do so is amazing!

Displaying photo.JPG (not posting my actual photo, but it happened!)

My stress level

Before moving, my stress level (even before relocation stresses) was insanely high. I felt miserable and cranky pretty often, wanting nothing more than to usher everyone away. Now, my life’s pace has changed and I have hardly any stress. My anxiety is even low for once (I overthink and worry about everything).

 

Happiness

Winnie the Pooh

I can’t think of a time (other than vacations and outings with friends) where I’ve felt so on top of the world. I feel that I’m able to realize my dreams, be my true self and enjoy everyday to the fullest. It’s overwhelming actually! Oh and I have a TON of energy everyday. I never feel drained or feel I need to be alone all evening.

 

Money

For the first time in my life, I actually have money. Really, I feel ok with spending $3 on an iced coffee after work once or twice a week and it’s amazing. Since I’m not paying rent or utilities, I can concentrate on paying off student loans and by the end of next month another one will be gone. I do want to move by August, but until then I’ll be saving money and I’ll be getting closer to being debt free!

 

People

Zelda tissue box I made for a friend

While I miss my friends in my old city a lot, many of my friends are in this area. In fact, one of my closest friends lives down the road from me now! It’s beyond wonderful to stop by to visit friends and family during the week and weekend. Previously I would see some friends only 3 times a year and family every month or two. That’s not easy when you’re someone who needs to see people they care about.

 

Graduate School

Searching for my sole mate sign

For a while now I’ve been thinking about graduate school, but the local university wasn’t one I wanted to attend.  Now, I’m working near a university with a Masters program I really want.  With my Masters in Special Education, the world would really open up for me (for a reasonable cost of $14,000).  I still have my undergraduate loans, but with my new job I can save up and pay for classes out of pocket (with some grant help).  I have a meeting next week to enroll next spring and I can’t wait!