Friday, August 11, 2006

Generational expectations

As I mentioned, my brother is moving here and has been staying with me while he searches for an apartment for himself and soon-to-be wife, Ricer. The biggest challenge for the two of them is probably resetting their expectations given that he and his roommate shared a two bedroom, two bath apartment for $995. That ain't going to happen here, not unless he wants to commute from suburban fringes.

They plan to rent a one bedroom. Knowing he stays up late on this computer, I asked him where he'd put it. He acknowledged that it would have to go in the living room since it would be disruptive to have it in the bedroom. I gave him a hypothetical situation of Ricer and her sister having friends over and preventing him from using the living room. He said he's just deal with it and could always temporarily use his laptop. I guess they're really trying to save money and don't think they need much space.

He started looking at places last weekend. I encouraged him to view this one bedroom apartment in a fairly desirable town. I think it was $1150/month for an apartment that included a carport space and free laundry. His verdict was that the place was okay but old. Using our late 1970s house kitchen decor as reference, he complained that this place was worse and didn't have a dishwasher. (He said they probably won't cook much so what's the dishwasher for?) I explained to him that many of the places my friends rent have kitchens that are from the 1950s or 60s. They look a little old, but everything is clean and working. I cautioned that he might need to spend more if they wanted something more modern.

Earlier this week, I spotted what I thought might be suitable for their needs. It was a two bedroom, one bath, townhouse-style apartment for $1295/month. He made an appointment to see it during his lunch hour. The apartment had new tile flooring and granite kitchen counters. It also had the dishwasher he wanted. The only major minus was that the reserved parking spot was not covered. Plus all his neighbors would be similar in careers so they might make for good friends and connections for future jobs.

When I asked him about it that evening, he said he has submitted his application and credit card for the place. After talking with Ricer, however, he cancelled his application. I was surprised and asked why. He said they agreed that they didn't need the second bedroom because "what would we do with it." For the price, I reasoned that it was a good deal and would give them more separation of space, like having a computer/study room. I pointed out that a decent one bedroom would likely cost them $1150 and how $150 more a month was a small price for some extra elbow room. He acknowledged my point but shrugged it off becuase they don't need that much space.

I let it go at that point. Both my brother and I hate my mom's nagging, so I try not to act like her. My point was made and that's all I can do. I'm also a big believer that the best way to learn, unfortunately, is to make mistakes. It's not like their poor or fresh out of school. My brother has a very decent income. Maybe they'll be fine, maybe they'll realize they need a second room and will move to a bigger apartment next year. Then again, it could be that I use too much space. (My global footprint is way big - the average for the US is not acceptable [to me].)

I recounted this to several of my friends. They're either over 30 or married. Every one of them reacted with a "what?!!!" We all agreed that the extra bit of money was worth it. Maybe we're all spoiled, too independent, jaded, or older and wiser. I thought it was interesting that all my friends had the exact same reaction and rationale as me. My brother and Ricer are in their mid to later 20s. As a young couple and probably more optimistic and flexible at that age. I know it's very possible to live in a one bedroom, but why if you can afford a little more? (Note, the average square footage for an American family of four used to be 1200 sq. ft. Now, it's closer to 2200 sq. ft. The fact is we spend more time inside the home thanks to things like television and computers.)

My brother did reserve an apartment recently. It's a one bedroom with new tile flooring, new kitchen and bath. It has a dishwasher and covered parking space. The rent will be $1075/month - not bad. I reserve judgment for when I see it to decide whether it's a good deal. The neighborhood is one of the border areas. Saving $220 each month, I admit, verges on going with the cheaper, one bedroom place.


zerodoll said...

i personally decided i wanted a two bedroom, all for my lonesome (and two cats). that way the bedroom is reserved for sleeping/bedroom stuff, the other room is office/cat stuff and the living room is for tv stuff. a bit more than i needed perhaps, but a one bedroom just seemed too small; i'm not 22 anymore!

Pandax said...

I have two bedrooms as well for the same reasons (except the kitties). My mom can't understand why I don't want to save money by having a roommate. I like knowing I can do whatever I want, it's peaceful (though it is nice to have company).

mini said...

hmm ... i think i would have gone with the 2 bedroom as well just to have the extra space. 1-bedroom really isn't very big at all. but if you're stretching your budget to pay for the 1-bedroom (not sure if your brother & fiance are doing this), i guess $150-200 more really can be a lot and just plain un-doable.

i don't think i can deal with having roommates anymore; i've lived on my own for too long that going back would be very difficult.