Apr 9, 2015

Home Sweet (New) Rental

Almost 1,000 words on finding a new place to live. I just like this topic. A lot.  

For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with houses. For Christmas one year, my older brother received a pad of drafting paper and I vividly remember us spending hours at the dining room table with a protractor and ruler designing our dream house floor plan. Remember the The Sims? Well, I never really played the game, I just made houses. HGTV and Hooked on Houses are my jam and most recently, Brandon and I have been obsessed with Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna Gaines, can we be friends?

Our big dream one day is to build a house from the ground up and own acres of land surrounding it. We want a garden, big wide porches, a back staircase, built-ins and sunset views without a neighbor in sight. While we will not see this dream come to reality here in the notoriously expensive Bay Area, we hope that someday we'll head East and make it happen. Until then...

...we found a new place to live for the here and now!

We've been in our tiny one-bedroom apartment since 2009 and while our needs haven't really changed, our wants have. I like our place and it's my little comfort zone, but I am really excited to move into our new space next month and make it our home.

As I mentioned a few years ago, we decided not to buy a home here despite saving years for a down payment and living fairly frugally to do so. Our Realtor agreed that our money better off sitting in our Vanguard accounts than in the unpredictable real estate market...especially since our long term plans included moving away in the next 5 years. [See also: this awesome calculator on whether you should rent or buy, this Khan Academy series on renting vs. buying and this article on the best cities to rent in the Bay Area (our new city is is on the list). I could write a novel on this subject.]

So back to moving. Our current place isn't bad, but it's not ideal anymore. For starters, we have no room for a dining room table or kitchen table. We eat hunched over the coffee table, bachelor-style. It's a third floor walk up, which doesn't bother me (oh hey, Fitbit steps), except it means no garage and only one small balcony for outdoor living. Our apartment sized washer and dryer takes three hours to wash and dry a small load of laundry. Our neighbor enjoys listening to his TV loudly and we are near an airport and busy expressway. All the noise, noise, noise!

We only had to search a week and a half to find our new place, which is kind of unheard of around these parts! We saw some doozies though. One place was so disgusting, that I had to will myself not to dry heave during the tour. I just held my breathe and turned my head. They wanted $4300/month by the way. Umm, no. Multiple places were nice, but built on Superfund sites (i.e. old toxic waste dumps). Nope. Nope. Nope.

So when we found our new place, all spic and span and on safe, non-toxic land, we jumped on it. Because housing here is so competitive, we had to sell ourselves a bit, which I kind of hated, but it did the trick. Some rental hunters I know had to offer six months to a year of rent upfront just to secure a place and beat out the competition (luckily, we did not have to do that). It's a tough, tough market, folks and I'm thanking my lucky stars we quickly found our winner and that the landlord picked us out of the other people interested. He's also a super cool guy who we have a lot in common with.

So, our new place. It's perfect for us and I feel like I'll finally be able to decorate and organize my home the way I've always wanted to. It has two bedrooms, two and a half baths, a huge kitchen with custom cabinets and high end appliances (that I won't know how to use), and Brandon's favorite: a two-car garage. It's sort of a semi-detached 2-story house, but we don't share any walls with our neighbors besides a small portion of our dining room, which attaches to their garage. There are hardwood floors throughout, a walk in attic, and Elfa custom closets that had me practically squealing. The location is great; about 15 minutes from my office and 20 minutes from Brandon's. We'll be within a 5 minute walk to Trader Joe's and are really close to one of our favorite hiking spots. The neighborhood actually feels like a real neighborhood unlike our current industrial and apartment-clad one.

We compromised on no backyard (it does have a nice sized patio though) and small bathrooms with very little storage or countertop space. I just see that as an opportunity to test my creative organizational side. For the price we got (a whopping $1,000 under our budget), these are no big deal.

I'm kind of hoping that I can use this blog to document making this rental into our home, but as sporadic as I am these days with blogging, I cannot make any promises. I love a good before and after as much as anyone, but normally I prefer observing them rather than supplying them :)

We'll see! Cannot wait to start the furniture shopping (we are selling almost every single crappy Ikea piece we have and we'll need new everything), organizational projects, and life with a Wolf range and great photo lighting. Maybe I'll cook and take pictures of my food again?

Bahahaha. Who I am kidding?


  1. Oh and I SO happy for you! And if I ever stop working in Sacramento and have more than 5 minutes to myself on weekends to do all the things I need to do, we must get together to catch up, so I can hear all about it!

  2. YAY!!!! So excited for you guys. I do hope you blog about your progress so I can steal inspiration :) I'm getting excited about our house too! It will be nice to not share walls with anyone and have a GARAGE. Take that, hail.


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