Well, it’s that time of year again. Well OK, it’s that time of year too, but it’s also the time of year when the lease on my apartment is going to be coming up for renewal soon, which means that I need to figure out where the heck I’m going to be living for the next year (or so.) Thankfully the apartment management at my current place does a pretty good job of providing their renewal information well in advance so I have plenty of time to consider things, but the story is pretty predictable: It’s not cheap to live in Downtown Bellevue, and it sure as heck isn’t getting any cheaper around here either. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be doable under the right circumstances, but for as much as I enjoy living here, it’s pretty clear I could go just about anywhere (besides Downtown Seattle, but I have no interest in living over there anyway) and get a bigger apartment for less rent than I’m paying now. And based on doing a bit of searching, it seems highly unlikely I’m going to find a better deal than I’ve got now in Downtown.
I also no longer have the advantage of being able to walk three blocks to work like I did when I worked here in Bellevue, and given the aforementioned lack of interest in living in Seattle, it means I’m pretty much looking at a daily commute of at least 45 minutes in each direction from just about anywhere I go. Although the commute isn’t quite as bad as I thought it might be back when I took my current contract at Amazon, I have to say that the ability to easily walk to work and back spoiled me a bit. And although I was never all that impressed with the lunch choices available in Downtown Bellevue when I worked here, it’s still a lot better over here than what’s available in South Lake Union where I’m working now. It’s actually even been enough to get me to start bringing my own lunches to work a couple of times a week, and anyone who has known me for long enough knows that for quite a long time I’ve been the type of person who never brings his own lunch to work. Sure, there’s the much touted food truck scene in the neighborhood, but with only a couple of exceptions (most notably the taco truck that parks in front of my building each day,) the overall impression I’ve gotten of the food trucks I’ve tried is that they’re trying to sell you $5 worth of food for $12. Nonetheless, since I have no intention of ever living over there it’s all pretty much academic anyway. In theory, while I lived and worked here in the same neighborhood I wasn’t spending anything on commuting, but it’s pretty clear that the ability to live that close to work was a luxury, and not a particularly cheap one at that.
And even with as much as I’ve enjoyed living here, it’s not been without its problems, most of them being related to the plumbing. Although I haven’t found myself with any major incident like soaked carpets due to a leaky water heater (given the fact that this building has a centralized water heating system, that would actually be pretty impressive and pretty disastrous at the same time) I’ve had a number of minor issues with the plumbing, which leads me to suspect that whoever did it when the place was built didn’t do a very good job of it. There’s also the creaky floor underneath the bathtub, and a few of the cabinets and fixtures that have had problems that I’d think you really shouldn’t be experiencing in a building that’s only three years old. Nonetheless, in the grand scheme of things it’s all been pretty minor, and it’s still a pretty nice place. If I did move into a different place I think I’d also have a bit of a hard time giving up the air conditioning I’ve got here, but then again I do tend to be a bit of a wimp when it comes to the heat, and the big windows in the place mean that if I didn’t have the AC the place would be one big oven. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for the impending increase in what’s already a pretty high rent I’d renew here in a heartbeat, but when reality gets factored in, it becomes a lot more difficult (albeit not completely impossible) to justify.
And then, there’s always the option of buying a house, which is what pretty much everyone I’ve talked about this with has told me I should do. To be honest, I’m not sure that’s an option just yet, especially since it seems like quite a few other things in my life seem to be in a proverbial holding pattern right now. As I’ve discussed in a couple of other posts, there are number of potential opportunities that I have going on right now where things could easily go in one of two different directions, but it’s really too soon to tell where any of them are really headed. Although I am optimistic that ultimately things will work out in a reasonably advantageous manner, I’m not sure it’s a particularly good time to be introducing additional complications into the mix right now, and there are few things out there which are as good at adding complications to things as home ownership. To be honest, I’m not even sure where I would be looking to buy a house, much less what I’d be buying. I’ve looked a little bit at buying in this neighborhood, but even though I can afford to rent in this neighborhood, I think buying a place around here might be just a little bit out of my league right now. Maybe I could swing it after I’ve written a bestselling novel and sold off the movie rights or something like that, but for the time being I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to look a bit farther out. Either way, I don’t think it’s going to happen right now, although it’s definitely on the radar at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Ultimately, when I ask myself where I should be living when all this is said and done, I’m not sure there’s any answer that is completely right to that question. I don’t think I’d need something like a big waterfront mansion or anything ridiculous like that, but I suspect that no matter what I end up deciding on there’s going to be some degree of compromise involved. You can get something nice, you can get something affordable, or you can get something in a good location. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to pick two of those. At this point, all I know is that I’ve got to pick something, and I’ve got to pick it soon.