changes, frugality, NYC

the (de)merits of finding a new place to live on a shoestring budget

I hate change. Hate hate hate hate hate it.

This vehement assertion likely will surprise more than a few people, in particular those who have seen me make split-second decisions to get very large tattoos, move in with men I barely know, move halfway across the country with no one and nothing waiting for me, and do a half-thousand other ridiculous things that anyone with half a brain would’ve thought twice about given thirty seconds of contemplation.

But, as you may have guessed, avoiding contemplation of decisions = a carefree attitude toward the aftermath of said decisions. While I regret only one of my 18 tattoos (and I’ll never tell anyone which one it is; have fun guessing!) and mostly view every failed cohabitation as a “learning experience” cum “character-building exercise,” I can’t exactly say that the initial period after making any decision (even small ones) is a comfortable one. And there are some things (very few) that actually do inspire panic; these days, finding a new place to live happens to be one of them.

It’s weird, because from 1990 until 2007, I lived in (no joke) 21 different apartments and houses (and went to four different colleges). Growing up, I went to six different schools by the time I was in fifth grade (three in fifth grade alone), and from age eight to 14, I lived in seven different houses/apartments/garages (an entirely different story). Adding it all up: by age 34, I’d been to 12 schools, lived in 28 places (in ten different cities in three different states), and had lived with three different men (two of whom I’d been married to, each separated by no more than a few months of my living alone, sometimes only a few weeks).

Contrast that with the time since 2007. I lived in the same apartment building for four years, moving only from a studio to a one-bedroom (literally next door); the complex was a block away from the apartment I’d lived in since 2005. I did live with a roommate for six months before coming to New York…but since then (and my couch-surfing adventures) I’ve been in my current roommate situation for 14 months. When it comes to housing, and perhaps housing alone, I do not like change. So imagine my feelings right now about having to find a new place to live.

And “have to” is a strong choice of words. I’m not getting kicked out. I can stay. But to do so is ridiculous. My rent’s been raised to a rate that’s more appropriate for a room about twice the size of the one I’m in, and I feel like an idiot paying so much for a room that’s 6×10 when I know I can pay exactly the same amount for something much roomier. But now I have to come up with a security deposit and pack and find a place and beyond the obvious of coming up with money being the last thing on Earth I find feasible right now, entropy is so much more appealing than even the most logical of decisions.

So, yes, give me the chance to go halfway across the country with nothing more than an idea that things will be better on the other side, and I’m there in an instant. But ask me to come up with $300 and spend a few hours looking at rooms in the neighborhood I already live in and you’d think someone asked me to climb Mt. Everest. But at some point a new place will be found and all of this will seem ridiculously petulant. No one ever said I was average, I suppose. Then again, I never really said I wanted to be.

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