18 November 2007

"Green Acres is the Place for Me..."

Sorry for the temporary delay in dropping out there last week, but I do have a valid reason: I've been looking for a new apartment.

Let's backtrack a little. While I love my current digs (where I've been at for a couple plus years now) and have worked steadily to make the apartment here more a 'home' with my various art and photographic experiments, it's not necessarily a cheap place to live. When I first moved in, the monthly setup was a good deal: some new amenities, and it included internet and basic cable TV in the cost of the rent. Not to mention very close to work. However, what I didn't know then and found out up later, the major wallet-eaters like the air conditioning and the heating were not replaced and management were/are still quite resistant to do so. Not to mention, I seem to be the unofficial 'adult' in my section of the apartments as everyone else here is under 25 and likes to get drunk and/or have loud sports TV parties on the weekends...which was good when I was 25 or thereabouts. Now, after working a 50 to 60 work week and doing various other errands, not so much, or at least not so much every weekend. But in the first year or so, the rental price made all the extracurriculars tolerable. I was getting a good value and I knew it, so I stayed.

Then the first lease renewal went up $100 a month. At that time, all renovations throughout had been completed...and that had not included the ancient HVAC systems. All inquiries about changing those out were met with an icy reception and essentially a 'we don't care what it costs you in utilities to run them, we're not replacing them until they are completely inoperable' response from management. After looking at the numbers and other options again, I begrudgingly signed on again for another term but at least did it for an extended time so as to not be hit with another increase so soon. What had been an exceptional deal at one point was going in reverse, a situation that got highlighted even more when that winter's heating bills came out.

I've tried in vain to get the circa 1970s heating and porous windows changed out...or at least an investigation as to where all my energy money was going...this last term (the A/C did eventually when it gave away some time last year, but it took three days and a call from a lawyer friend of mine to get it fixed within a week), but nothing has been achieved. Electric rates have raised steadily, and the performance of the apartment, utilities-wise, has decreased alarmingly. Last winter, I upgraded all the curtains (now at about three levels thick), weatherstripped to an insane degree, and even bought a space heater to cut back on costs. On the coldest nights, I even took to wearing double-layered flannel...and I hate flannel...and even after all of these measures, I still was getting bills equivalent to those of a much bigger dwelling. Just two weeks ago, I tried again for resolution when it became apparent our long Indian summer had finally vacated the region. In return, I got a new front door sweep and a weatherstripping job worse than my own...and a review of my electric bills showing I'm paying about 35% more than what I did when I first moved in. When I first moved in just over two years ago. I understand that the electric rates have went up, but they haven't went up nowhere near that much and I'm actually at home less (and with the air conditioning and/or heat off when I am away) since then.

Then last week I came home to find a new renewal agreement on my door for the upcoming term: a raise in rent of almost another $100 a month (well actually it was, but then they indicated I'd get a discount for being a multi-year tenant of about $25/month). So, as I stewed contemplating an increase in rent of $175/month in just over two years' time and the raise in electricity costs, (not to mention the college social club here on the weekends), I started looking for alternate homesteads. Nothing like being forced into action, I guess.

So last week I found one, and one that's much more 'me'. Rural but still close to work, surrounded by woods and a working nursery and farm. Built into a hillside, in the bottom part of the house (must be a 'me' thing, as I've also lived in 2 basements before), with a screened-in porch overlooking said woods for about a quarter mile. A lot more 'home' vibe than what I currently have, with some recent upgrades in the bedrooms and the bath. A lot more space in the kitchen and the living room, too. While I'll have to get a washer and dryer (compared to using the ones provided currently here), that's a minor and temporary inconvenience. Supremely quiet, and the landlords don't even mind if I plant a garden. There will be a few changes...getting DSL and satellite TV out there as Time Warner Cable hasn't extended that far yet...but I practically jumped up and down when I got the tour. Even when adding up the laundromat, DSL, and other expenses, I still come out ahead. More space, less money...less hassle, more 'me'. Hallelujah.

And Friday, after much hand-wringing and worry I'd miss out somehow, I got it. And despite everything that is going on with me, I'm very very happy right now. I'm even packing boxes right now.

No comments: