Friday, November 10, 2006

Moving On

The first thing I did after moving into my apartment in November, 2002, was to move out of it.

Well, no, the first thing I did was saw up the plywood over the pine floor. Then I sublet. THEN I moved out.

I was gone for for three months, the maximum time I could stay in Oz.

When I returned in spring of 2003, I was home for a long stretch. My next major absence was for three months at the end of 2004, when I had a flat in Barcelona. Marc Siry stayed in my place, a little bit house-sitter, a little bit renter.

I was home for six months after that, then went to Africa for six months. Then home for six weeks, then off to Kuwait for three months.

Given that I was away from my place almost as much as I was in it, you'd think I'd be less sentimental about leaving it again.

It's just... this time it's permanent. And I've been looking around the neighborhood. Few things--well, nothing--in my price range are as nice. Taxes on other places are higher. I'm already on the best block in the area.

Yesterday, a home inspector checked out my place for the buyer. He nitpicked, found some things "wrong" that aren't wrong, missed some things, and turned the stove on wrong, allowing gas to escape to the kitchen for several minutes. But he didn't find anything so wrong that the buyer wants to back out.

Which is kind of a bummer, because I'm having seller's remorse, and I wouldn't mind at all if the buyer backed out.

My apartment has so much of my last several years' personal history built into it. Turbo's fingerprints are everywhere. I feel terribly guilty at leaving his hard work to someone who doesn't know or appreciate his efforts. And my friends are here too--Yancey tearing up the carpet and breaking down boxes, Lynne brushing dust out of every radiator fin, Al Huckabee beating the hell out of the plaster to cut holes in it, Roberta carrying insulation bales, and Michael Kraiger pulling down plaster to expose the bricks underneath.

But these are people. And a home is just a house. The people will come into my next place (well, some of them will). If there ever is a next place. Given the cost of buying, it probably doesn't make sense to own right now.

I'm poor. I clean up well, but under that upper-middle-class-white-gal-exterior is someone who easily would qualify for food stamps and free medical care. I've been faking it since I left my decent salary at Marvel for a life of barely paying freelance writing. I seldom get the opportunity to walk out of a lawyer's office with a check for a hundred and fifty grand. I should shut up and quit feeling guilty.

But then there's this.

Where the hell am I gonna live?


Anonymous said...

Marie since you are the expert on renting and travelling I need some advice. I own a condo and am planning to take off next year for about 1 year of travel; I'm hoping to rent out the place. Any tips/suggestions?

Marie Javins said...

Sure--my advice is to totally be "age-ist." The older the tenant, the better. I know it sounds horrible, but the times I've rented this place or my old place to young people, it's been a near-disaster. "What, you didn't want a cigarette burn on your windowsill or butts stuffed down your toilet?" (Yes, it's a no-smoking listing.) "That gouge on the plywood was there when I got here." "It's clean. How do you define clean?" And breaking things. That's the worst.

I try for singles, but when you get a single, assume a couple. A few times I rented to singles and then, oh, "didn't I mention my boy/girlfriend was coming along?"

I don't care now responsible and nice they seem, get a security deposit before you let them in the door. I had a responsible guy here who didn't realize it was expensive to dial direct to Australia. $700 phone bill.

On that note, you can get your phone fixed so that no one can dial long-distance on it without your code. I can't recommend this highly enough. Your tenant can use their cell or buy phone cards.

Get anything you value out of your place.

I've had some awesome tenants. And the aforementioned disasters. Clueless disasters, who don't understand what damage is.

If you can get a friend who respects your stuff, that's ideal. Or an adult who understands that when something goes wrong, it must be dealt with and not ignored.

I found a lot of people through craigslist, but it's safe to say that for every 9 people who email, only 1 responds to your response. Crazy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! It's going to be tough to rent the place out, meaning I'll be fearful of what could go wrong. I still have time so the thought of just selling and leaving is strong, but I figure better to come home to a home then nothing.

Thanks again.

Marie Javins said...

Argh-you had to remind me.