Category Archives: Moving & Apartment-Hunting

You Asked, We Answered (Part 1: Why we rent)

Ryan and I have answered all the questions submitted to us in the reader survey!   Holy cow, a lot of you want to know why we rent, if we’re ever going to buy a house, etc, etc.  We split the questions into two posts because there were a lot of them, so this first part is mainly the rental-related questions.

Ryan:  MANY QUESTIONS LIGHTNING ROUND! In no particular order (Unless yours was first. You’re that special to me.)

Q: While I am not a renter, I really enjoy reading what you’ve done with the place. I like your sense of style, too! I also enjoy the outdoor postings and the kitties! At any rate, thank you for sharing your life and being inspirational whether you see the direct results of it or not. [I must also admit to a secret desire to elope with your secretary… oh if only I had a Mac!]

Ryan:  Since you didn’t ask a question, I’ll ask one instead. My wife has a secretary? I spent a while wondering when my wife acquired a secretary. Then I had a realization that I think that’s one of the other names women use for desks. Maybe a tall-desk? If she actually does have a secretary that I’m not aware of, let me know. I reserve first rights to elope with her.

Q: Will you eventually purchase your own home, or will you just continue renting?

Ryan: Renting for the foreseeable future. We live in an area that’s really expensive to buy and I don’t like the trade-off of having that much money tied up in a house and lose the flexibility to move easily if we needed to.

Jane:  This topic may deserve a separate post.  We are happier renting rather than owning at this point in our lives, which shocks many people.   Housing prices in this area are stupid high.  In our current town, there’s only one single family home for sale for less than $500,000 – and it needs to be gutted and rebuilt.  And we don’t want to commit to half a million dollars on any sort of house right now. And the mortgage for an un-renovated place would cost as much as rent on this renovated place.

Q: You work so hard trying to find fair trade companies that I would love to see a section on the blog that has a list of “Jane-Approved” companies for both decorating and everyday life items.

Ryan: I don’t think this has been compiled yet. I’ll get Jane on this promptly. I’ll have the secretary help out if I haven’t run away with her yet. Or if she’s a desk. I’m not running away with a desk.

Jane: This is a great idea, I will have to do some more posts about fair trade shopping, especially as it relates to home decor. The problem is, I haven’t had the time to research that topic well enough to create a comprehensive list. Anyone want a research job?   Only slightly joking.

I can tell you that I’ve researched Crate & Barrel, and most of their upholstered furniture is made in North Carolina workshops from kiln-dried wood.  Otherwise, thrift shops and craigslist are great for getting secondhand furniture, so you’re not supporting any made in sweatshop crap.  For much more info on ethical shopping, I recommend my friend Jamillah’s blog, Made-To-Travel.

Q:  Do you have any plans to move?

Ryan: That’s a fairly regular activity around here. I try to stop moving pretty often but I’m not good at it. The cats try to smother me if I hold still long enough.

Jane:  Not anytime soon!  But I love moving.  I moved 10 times in 10 years, so recently I have felt a little antsy that I’ve been in the same house for three years.  :)

Q: Do you ever think you will own a home instead of renting?

Ryan:  Yes. I also wouldn’t mind owning a home for other people to rent. I like the idea of providing a living space to others.

Jane: If I say no, will Ryan and I end up in marriage counseling for irreconcilable difference?  :)  Just kidding, my answer is yes.

Q: What are your long term housing goals, love your rental stay for as long as possible? Saving up a down payment?

Ryan: Long term, probably move further away from civilization and get a nice hunk of land. That’ll keep Jane busy for a while. But while we’re here we really like our house. Great house, great location, great landlord. And we’re saving. Not specifically for a down payment. But just because… who wants to not have savings?

Jane:  When we first moved in together, I warned Ryan that I was absolutely not living in this city forever.  I want adventure! I want to live in Seattle! Or Portland!  Or on a few acres in the mountains somewhere!  Or in Europe!  Or all of the above!

For now we’re stuck in the DC area for the sake of our careers, and we’re very happy with this borrowed abode. I’m saving about 35% of my take-home pay just because saving is the smart thing to do, so yes, we’ll have a down payment if we ever want it.

Q:  How long to you plan to rent? Of course, you might have to change the name of your blog, but aren’t you ready to buy a house, or is there some reason you just prefer renting?

Ryan:  I answered some of this above, but you really hit the crux of the problem. The Owned Abode just doesn’t have the same ring, does it? I’ve tried a few. The Mortgaged Abode. The Bank-Owns-It-But-They-Let-Me-Live-Here-For-Now Abode. The Hey!-I’ll-Knock-Out-This-Wall-Now Abode. I like the last one, actually.

Jane:  Shoot, you guys have figured out the real reason why we haven’t bought a house!

We’ll be back later with more questions and answers.  The non-rental-related ones :)  In the mean time, if you want to add a question, feel free to do so in the comments. 

Crafting a [Floor] Plan

Yesterday, when I shared Part 1 of my Backyard & Patio Makeover, Amanda from Hip House Girl asked:

What program did you use to design that diagram of your back yard?

The answer?  I used Floorplanner, a free online planning tool which is my I-love-to-move-furniture dream come true.  I discovered it shortly before we moved to this new house.  It’s awesome!!!  During our walk-through with the landlord, I measured all the 1st floor spaces, and was thus able to plan out the space prior to moving in.

Then, after we moved in and were inspired to design a patio for the backyard, I simply added it to the existing plan:

As you can see, I really like to plan ahead for a move.  That’s why I also planned out our new kitchen before the move, which only required a bit of text editing in Picasa:

So aside from recommending Floorplanner, here’s a little tip for those of you moving to a new space: Before doing the final pre-renting walk-through with the landlord, I sketched each room out in a bare-bones (and not-to-scale) diagram of the 1st floor in PowerPoint, so that all I had to do was measure walls and windows and jot them down on the Powerpoint sketch.  It made the whole measuring process much easier – I’d say it took me and Ryan about 2 minutes per room.

How do you plan?  Or are you more of a move-in-and-wing-it kinda gal (or guy)?

New reader?  Here are some of my other moving tips.  

I get around: All the places I’ve rented

In my slow-but-steady quest to make The Borrowed Abode more user-friendly, I’ve added a new page for my moving and apartment-hunting tips.

In writing the intro for the page, I realized that I’ve moved 10 times since my senior year of college, 9 years ago.  That’s insane!

How many times have you moved in your adult life?

Review: Two Guys and a Truck Movers

Before this last move, I swore I’d never move again until I could afford to hire movers.  With our busy schedules, we wanted the move to go quickly and painlessly.

We chose to hire Two Guys and a Truck for the move.  They were affordable, locally-owned, and came well recommended.

We chose to help them load the truck, because a) we can’t stand around and watch people work and b) the faster the move went, the cheaper it was.

If we wanted our glass items moved – such as my large mirrors and my Barcelona table – we had to sign a glass breakage waiver.  Which we did.  They then wrapped the items in heavy blankets, and put them into my car, where I figured they’d be a lot safer as compared to the large truck.

Speaking of large trucks, I’m proud to say that our stuff only occupied half of the moving truck, if that.

When I asked the movers, as they finished up, what I could have done to make the move go faster, they had one main suggestion: consolidate the smaller stuff into larger boxes.  In other words, one large and heavy box makes for faster moving than three loose lamps and several smaller boxes.  I’d packed for the pros the way I packed for previous self-propelled moves, leaving lamps and other medium-sized items loose, rather than enclosing them in large boxes.   Lesson learned.

But how cool is this guy’s moving technique?  He’d load up his back like a camel so that he could see where he was going.

We were pleased with how the move went.  The three guys were friendly and courteous, even if they found it odd that I was taking pictures of them as they worked.   I’d definitely recommend them as a budget-friendly moving service.