Our lease is ending July 31st and it seems like I just finished the internal debate of to move or not to move from last year. I am not the best at making decisions normally even if its just as simple as what to make for dinner. Let alone making large decisions like this. I guess my method will be to write a few posts to sort it out on paper then decide at the end. I plan on making a few part series since it is too much to consider in one post. Also, I don’t have that much free time after work to write it up all at once. Here is where I stand initially.

Since being in Virginia we have lived in two apartments within the same complex. We have only moved into this particular one mid-September of 2008 so we haven’t been here very long at all. In fact, I feel like I move pretty much every year. I can see that clearly on my credit reports when they list all known addresses. I always have to click the checkbox on forms that says, “Have you lived at this address less than 2 years?”. Now that I count it, I have lived in 5 apartments since 2003. I guess I am not very good at staying in one place!

Our lease ends July 31st. We have already signed the intent to vacate paperwork 60 days in advance. Although our apartment is very nice (brand new kitchen, open layout, etc.) it is a little cramped for the two of us. We both have hobbies that require lots of space. We also accumulate a lot of stuff. I downsize and freecycle as much as I can every few months but it doesn’t help at all. There is stuff in every single nook and cranny in the apartment. This includes the end tables, ottoman, under the couches and chairs, under the bed, on top of all of the kitchen cabinets (we made full use of the 11 ft ceilings). I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say everywhere. I can’t even walk into my “walk-in closet” in the bedroom. It is full all the way up to the ceiling and out the door. To get in I must move two layers of things out of the way then put them back when I’m done.

To keep the record straight, I’m not a packrat. Everything is put away. There isn’t stuff on the floors or cabinets overflowing. And 95% of everything we use every few months, if not more often. It is only an 850sq ft apartment.

I probably don’t need to explicitly say it, but I would like more space. But, I am conflicted on just accepting that, looking around at places, then moving on up. Nearly all year I have been eagerly anticipating the end of the lease to move into a cheaper place. I was planning in my debt repayment (and all of my spreadsheets) on a $200 drop in monthly rent. Our housing is one of our biggest monthly expenses, second only to loan payments. We have pretty much already trimmed down the budge in all other areas to the bare minimum. Debt causes a significant stress daily so I figured this was my one chance to make a big difference.

The main problem is the notoriously high cost of rent in my area. This is competing with my huge guilt of high loans which I want to pay off as quickly as possible. Even after almost 3 years here I can’t accept the high cost of living. When we first moved down to VA our rent doubled for half the square footage. Since then our rent has risen every year. To combat this, we are primarily considering areas even farther outside DC to save money. But this has its limits as there is only so much traffic I can accept daily to keep my sanity. Already I have a 40 minute commute (at best). Add that to usual 9-10 hour days at work and there is not much time left at the end of the night.

In my mind, it all comes down to how much is our sanity, relaxation, and overall happiness worth in dollar amounts. How do you put a price on that? And when you assign a value is it valid? Any thoughts?

Hopefully I can go into more detail in a few more posts. Mainly to get it off my mind and hopefully make a clearer decision.