26 July 2010

Moving dilemma

By: Jessica B.

Hey-o blogworld, I’m asking for some advice today. I have a little dilemma and I don’t know how to resolve it so I am turning to you for advice because, well you guys are pretty smart.

The topic: moving. I hate moving. I hate it more than having my root canal done, more than my annual Pap and more than jeans/swimsuit shopping.

Moving is time consuming, expensive and stressful, especially when you work full-time on top of packing and searching for a new place.

But moving can be cathartic and a good reason to purge all the sh*t you hoard in your apartment and then forget about.

Anyhow, there is a 50/50 chance I have to move in September and I have no idea what to do.

Right now, I rent a condo from an owner who relocated and couldn’t sell the unit (yay housing crisis!) He told me yesterday that he’s willing to renew the lease but, after two years of living here, part of me is itching for a change.

That and I would like to decrease my rent payment. Rent in Chicago is manageable (compared to LA or NY) but it can still be expensive. One bedroom rents range from $900-$1200/month or more and although I’m in range, the thought of decreasing my rent $50-$100/month is really tempting. I know I could find something cheaper, but am I sacrificing a great place in the process?

Here are my current apartment pros and cons:


  • It’s huge (1,100 sq feet) and more than enough room for one person
  • Equal size living, dining, bedroom and kitchen area (most apartments here have one small room)
  • Open floor plan
  • Close to express bus to work, bank and two grocery stores (trifecta!)


  • Very thin walls, yes, I’ve written about this before
  • Communal washer/dryer (the former of which was ruined by some d-bag that washed a rug. A**hat)
  • Window AC unit only in the living room (aka, hotter than h*ll sometimes in the bedroom in summer)
  • Nosy neighbors (sadly, Hot Neighbor has left)

Yeah, looking at this list, it’s pretty balanced right now.

I’m not UNHAPPY with where I live, but part of me wants to try something new. I would like to have better AC capabilities and, of course, maybe in-unit washer/dryer. I would give up one of my boobs to have that.

One part of my brain says, if the landlord won’t raise your rent and it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But the other part says, cutting your rent by $100, saving $1,200/year is REALLY tempting.

So interwebs help me out, what would you do? Ask for a rent decrease? Move? Do you also hate moving?


  1. blaez says:

    we’re moving out of a 2 bed 1 bath townhouse in the suburbs. don’t know if you’re interested.. we’re currently paying $995 a month and it’s not too far from the train station and its near a nice shopping area. we love it here and walls are NOT thin! plus it has a garage and in unit washer/dryer… we wouldn’t be moving if we weren’t dead set on going to arkansas…

    ps, having the moving but love the purging of junk and exploring a new home!

  2. Lil' Woman says:

    I would see what’s out there first and see if you can get all the things you want before giving up your current one.

  3. orange sugar says:

    Why don’t you just look to see whats out there? If you find something better move, if not renew your lease.

  4. poodlegoose says:

    This is definitely a hard choice. I just moved too and while we pay more now, it is sooo worth it, even with the smaller space. Our last place was $150 less, but I wouldn’t trade my new place for anything. See what’s out there. You don’t have to commit to just see your options. And yes, ask for a decrease from your current landlord. There’s always the chance you could get what you want :)

  5. I hate moving too. When I bought my condo in 2001, it was with the intent of never having to move again.

  6. Mega says:

    Please find a place with an in-unit washer/dryer. I will come hang out all the time. I’ll bring my laundry, but I will still come hang out all the time. There is your incentive.

  7. Janalee says:

    Sometimes I wish we had the same kind of housing crisis here as you guys do down south. I know that sounds terrible but the vacancy rate in the city I live in is less than 1% which means it’s nearly impossible to find a new place.

    While it can be an adventure to move it’s also really stressful. I think if you’ve found something you like keep it. Although those thin walls can be a pain.

  8. katelin says:

    i am so not a fan of moving either but i think i’d be ready for a change. i love a good change, haha. anyhoo good luck either way!

  9. Ali says:

    I would definitely try asking for a rent decrease first. I mean, it can’t hurt, right?

  10. Erin says:

    I hate, hate, hate moving, so I completely sympathize. Still, settling in to a new place can be great…and $1200 a year is quite a bit of money. Think of all the shopping you could do on your next vacation with $1200. I say look around and see if something else will work for you. If not, ask for a rent reduction. It never hurts to look or to ask!

  11. I HATE moving, but I am always up for change and a new adventure. I say go for it. You only live once and there is no do overs!

  12. Kate says:

    I HATE moving. So much that, in all the years I lived in Chicago, I never left the building I lived in — just lived in three different apartments there.

    I think it might be a good idea to go take a look at some other apartments to see what you’re working with. Would you be able to get an apartment with central air and its own washer/dryer for what you’re paying now or less? If you had to move further north or west, how would that affect your commute to work? There’s a lot to consider, but I know you’ll make the best decision for yourself! And even if it doesn’t work out, you can always move again. :)

  13. Erin says:

    It never hurts to look elsewhere—but if you’re okay with where you are for the most part–then I would ask for a decrease in rent and just STAY! Having recently moved, I can tell you that even the most organized person in the world gets a headache with packing and unpacking box after box. I moved from an apt to a house, thinking it would be “SO MUCH MORE ROOM”—but now I’m wonderfing how I’m ever gonna fit everything in. In the end, I’m glad I moved–but moving is, and always HAS been, a BIG pain in my rear!!! Best of luck with your decision making :)

  14. Jennifer says:

    If you hate moving, ask for a decrease. I did and I am so happy that my life is more affordable. What’s the worse that can happen? He says no and then you move?

  15. Jaime says:

    LOL this is exactly my thoughts- “I hate moving. I hate it more than having my root canal done, more than my annual Pap and more than jeans/swimsuit shopping.”

    I just moved and it was a bitch and a half… sadly, some of the nice amenities in my old place, aren’t currently in my new place. It’s frustrating. But my sitch was different- my roomie was moving in w/ her bf, and the most logical move for me was to move in w/ 2 bff’s at the place I’m in. While I really like the new location/living w/ them 2, my own bathroom, and a bigger room/closet, I didn’t realize the broken laundry, parking permit hassle, and lack of cable…oy! It’s never all pros, and no cons… tough choice!

  16. M says:

    Ask for a rent decrease. Honestly I moved somewhere cheaper thinking I would save money and I really don’t save anything in the end. Also, if you want an upgraded building, you won’t get anything less then what you’re paying unless you switch neighborhoods. Remember if you’re going to pay less there is usually a reason for that.

  17. Nora says:

    My advice? See what is out there.
    Don’t forget to factor in the costs to hire a moving company/UHaul/buy boxes/pack etc. Sometimes that’s close to half of what you would save if you moved. Then you have to decide if the $600 a year is worth it or if you could cut back on something else to save the money and save the heartache of moving since it’s kind of awful!

    Maybe try to make a deal with the landlord and say you’re willing to stay for the same price IF he puts in a window A/C unit in the bedroom, if you decide not to move. (Or some other improvement that you need/would want.)

  18. Eileen says:

    I agree that it would be smart to see what’s out there, in case you stumble upon a better deal. With the housing market so crappy a lot of condo owners are renting out these days ~ including condos that have in-unit laundry and a/c. Those two things would be a big improvement, I’d think.

    However, I am like you and very much hate moving, and agree that saving $100/month would probably be cancelled out by moving expenses. I’d suggest checking with your landlord to see if they’d pay for some window a/c units ~ I mean seriously, this summer has been ridiculously hot, I think that’s a totally reasonable request! I have some friends who’ve had to rent out their condos and it was not easy due to the glut of housing on the market ~ so I’m guessing that your landlord would be willing to make some concessions to keep you as a renter. Maybe also inquire about the laundry situation ~ if the washer is not working, that’s a pretty big problem! That might be worth arguing for decreased rent, as well.

  19. Jen says:

    I’ve moved about 7 times in the last 10 years. Currently, I am a month to month tenant. Could your landlord do something like that?

    That way you could sort of casually look and if you find something, 30 days notice and you are out.

  20. Erin says:

    I hate moving, too. The packing is really what does me in. I hate to pack.

    Sometimes I think I want to move into the city but then I think about all the work that goes into finding a place, moving, etc and I decide my 45 minute commute is fine and that I’m not missing much by living where we live. I still look at the listings on Craigslist, though, just to see if there’s anything out there. Normally I don’t find much. Have you looked to see if there’s anything that would have the amenities you want?

  21. Nicole Marie says:

    I was going through a similar thing. I love living in Lakeview (especially since I walk to work!) and I love that my rent includes ALL of my utilities. At the same time, my place is pretty small, the building has a vintage elevator that’s always out of commission, and I hate having wall-to-wall carpeting. My management company tends to ask for lease renewals obscenely early and I panic because it’s too soon to find a new place before I have to give mine up.

    I went to Apartment People on Broadway and they took me around to look at a few places (they’re a free service) and even though none of the specific places I looked at are available in the fall when I’d actually be moving, I felt a lot better not renewing my lease knowing that there IS stuff out there.

    Also, they have complimentary fresh baked chocolate chip cookies to eat while you wait to see an agent and they’re divine. I want to go look at more apartments just so I can eat a dozen of them!

  22. Cheryl says:

    Ask for lower rent. I thought of moving when my rent went up once, but the cost of moving negated the savings. If you like your place, stay. But it doesn’t hurt to poke around and see what is availalbe. Try Craigslist. B/c there are also a lot of places that were intended to be condos–i.e. washers/dryers and maybe central A/C–that had to go rental in the housing bust.

  23. Definitely ask for a rent decrease. If you give the landlord the opportunity to keep you as a renter and not lose 1-3 months of income while trying to get a new tennant in there you might convince him. And if you don;t convince him- you didn’t lose anything.

  24. April says:

    There is no harm in looking, but know from living here that the odds of getting in-unit washer and dryer in a one bedroom for a lower price is probably pretty slim.

    Also – whatever you do, don’t rent from the Enterprise Companies! They are AWFUL.

  25. Michelle says:

    Sounds like it could be cathartic for you to sort of uproot and start a new chapter. I would hunt around before you have to make a decision about your lease renewal, and see if you find anything good. If you do, go for it! If not, stay where it’s safe =)

  26. While I totally get the itch for a change, I think you’d wind up erasing any decrease in rent by the cost of your move. Getting boxes, tape and other packing supplies costs money. Renting a truck (or hiring movers). Money. When you move into a new place, you always wind up buying new things … shelving liners, shower curtains, that trash can that somehow didn’t make the trip. Money. At the end of the day, you wipe out a lot, if not all of the savings you’d get by paying less rent. There are also no guarantees you’ll have thicker walls or quieter neighbors. It’s always better to deal with the devil you know…

    That said, I think there are some things you can do to improve your current living situation. Why not buy a small A/C for the bedroom to turn on at night? Why not paint a room or an accent wall to spruce things up? And finally? There’s a cost to your landlord to find a new renter. Why not inquire about lowering your rent? Worst that can happen is it stays right where it is.

  27. PomJob says:

    How much will you spend to move? If it’s more than $1200, it’s probably not worth it from a financial standpoint alone. Plus, don’t forget there will be other things that you’ll need to buy for the new place – additional rugs, etc. The other reasons you mention are valid, though.

  28. mandy says:

    I echo the others when they say, whats the harm in looking around. It never hurts to shop around and see what you could get elsewhere. If you find something better you can take it, but if you’re ok with where you’re at, well then, thats ok too.

  29. Whatever you do, go ahead and start purging some stuff, regardless of if you move or not. You’ll be happy you did either way.

    If you’re only saving $100 a month, make sure you’re REALLY saving $100 a month and not spending some of that savings on transportation getting to work or a grocery store or on some awesome restaurant you might end up living by and being tempted by. Otherwise, the savings will be a wash.

  30. kimmy says:

    there’s no harm in looking around!

    i’m kind of in this boat too. i have the possibility of moving into a house for 250/month, but…i’d have roommates….ahhg! the thought of saving SO MUCH $$ in rent literally turns me on though! i don’t want to stay in my city for too much longer, so this could really be a chance for me to pay off the credit card debt and save up for a real move in a year or so. but can i handle roommates again? eeek.

  31. Elizabeth says:

    Well, if the hot neighbor is gone, it looks like your decision is made!

    All joking aside, yes, moving is a PAIN. I like what everyone else is saying. You can look, and if something just clicks, go for it.

  32. Maki says:

    Decreasing the rent for about $100 – does that mean you have to move a bit far from the city? Or is it easy to find something cheaper than what you’re paying right now in the same area?

    I hate moving, too — but maybe you can start browsing the area and see what your options are? It’s hard to use community washer/dryer – I need my own. So, I’d suggest to look for something you don’t have in your current place and maybe you may find a place that accomodates your current con’s as well as pros. And if you don’t find anything, then you can renew your lease :)

  33. Heidi Renée says:

    At this point in my life I’m pretty set upon having a washer and dryer in my home, and I don’t think I could deal if I didn’t have AC. So if you can find those without adding more things to the cons list, I’d do it. And even if you don’t move this year, get rid of some junk anyway! We gutted our guest room this weekend and have a huge load of stuff to take to Goodwill. Hello, tax deduction!

  34. Grace says:

    I went through something similar last year and it ended up being a total bomb for me. I thought I could save some money and move somewhere better. It turns out that there was nothing better in my price range and I ended up stuck in a crappy apartment because I could no longer stay at my old place. If I did it over I would try and do a month to month lease until I found a place that I LOVED and then I would move. I get the itch to move somewhere new too but I’m finding that I am better off buying a new couch or redecorating.

  35. Can you look around and see if you find anything better? If you DO find something great – then leave the old one. But if you don’t then stay! I think the one you’re in sounds pretty good right now. Personally, for me, LOCATION is SO important. I am in a shoebox apartment right now but I’m in a million times better location than my old much better place – and the location makes it worth it to me!

    Good luck with your decision. I also hate moving more than ANYTHING!

  36. Jenn says:

    I’m in the same freaking boat.

    My landlord is raising the rent in November. I love my apartment. I’m happy where I am. However, if I can save $100-200 a month? I’d consider a move. And after moving 18 times, I HATE IT! So if I can even consider another one, well, I have faith that you can get through a move. In fact, I will send my spirit over to help you pack!

  37. phampants says:

    I lived in Rogers Park for 3 years, as much as I LOVED my old apt and the neighborhood, I knew it was time to go. I’m in Uptown now and I love it. Bigger apt, close to everything and cheaper rent. Do it

  38. A Super Girl says:

    I’m a big fan of moving…though it is a hassle. Also, since I went from window unit AC and shared washer/dryer to central AC and in-unit washer/dryer, I will say that your life will be changed by adding those two things to your world. Trust.

  39. Amy says:

    Uh- this is EXACTLY what I was facing earlier when I decided to move. Like- exact same thing. I was unhappy, but I wasn’t happy. I would say look around. Visit a few places. That’s what I did. I was looking for the same “save $50-100 a month” thing too. I found a few things and weighed the pros and cons of moving vs what new things I’d be gaining. (luckily something entirely new popped up last min and I nabbed it! what I’m gaining: garage/washer and dryer in my apt/central heating and AC/balcony/updated everything) But… I’ve often questioned my decision because moving is a bitch. Basically- it doesn’t hurt to look. Chances are that you might not find anything better. In which case- Target sells a lovely portable air conditioner for $300 and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I spent over a year dying of heat in my apt. Not anymore :)

  40. nic says:

    Okay, so other than not wanting to lose you as a neighbor, I can completely understand the pull of something new or the search for a cheaper option. After a quick perusal, I realized that my rent is still below market averages for the neighborhood and the only thing I wish I had that I don’t is hardwood floors, a bigger bathroom, and more closet space….which is pretty much everyone’s wish in this city. So, I stayed another year.

    Based on what you’d like to gain- $50-100 less a month in rent, better AC, and maybe an in-unit washer/dryer- I can’t help but turn into a pessimist. Does an apartment like that exist? Good location, spacious, in-unit laundry, central AC and all for under $950-1100? I don’t know, dude. It’d be fucking rental GOLD if you found it though and I would invite myself over often. Oh yeah, if you move, can you get a place with a pool? Sweet. Thanks!

  41. chickbug says:

    oh…I have been there! I’ll repeat what others have said. What is the harm in looking? You don’t have to make a definite decision. See what is out there and if you find something you love it will be worth the time and money to move.

  42. jenn says:

    Hey there – long time, no talk! I feel your pain with the dilemma. We actually decided to move in September, too – to Madison! We are getting a $300 a month decrease in rent & we just needed a change. SO … I say go for it! :) A little change…(change!) will do you goooddd (do you good). Wow, I need sleep. :)

  43. I would certainly look. I’ve been obsessively looking since it warmed up. (We too only have window a/c and that has really sucked this summer.) The thin walls/floors? Check. Obnoxious neighbors? Check. We found a neighborhood that is much cheaper than ours and feels better for where we are in life. So look for the next month, tell your landlord that you’ll let him know for sure a month before the lease is up and look for something better and cheaper. That’s my 2 cents. ;)

  44. lbluca77 says:

    You could always casually look for a new apartment and if you find something you like and with all the things you want and less expensive then I say why not. But if you don’t find anything you like then at least you know you are happy where you are at.