Two worlds collide

Whenever I’m/we’re about to do something fairly hare-brained and crazy (which is often enough that we have indeed established a method), we weigh the pros and cons.  Doing so before actually making a final decision is optional.

This time, the decision on the table was not whether or not we were going to move to another apartment, but rather, which, and when.

It did not turn out the way I expected.

Pros of moving:
The old apartment: The Roaches – they have plagued (almost literally) our entire unit, mostly the kitchen.  And we’re seeing them during the day as well as at night, so you know it’s a pretty good infestation, probably involving multiple units.  The population is so bad that I was jazzed to only see 3 full-grown roaches today, but that elation was quickly deflated when I realized that 2 of them were outside the kitchen…in places I hadn’t previously seen them before.  In short, they’re traveling further and probably spreading accordingly.

The new apartment, on the other hand, is the cleanest, best-kept apartment I’ve ever seen.  And no, they don’t all look like that before you move in.  There are no crevices or spaces between the ceiling and cabinets that are slowly detaching from said ceiling.

The old apartment: The Hood – we’re growing both annoyed and concerned at all the graffiti (old and new) appearing everywhere.  Apparently, hoodlums feel they absolutely must tag everything in sight as if they owned it.  Pathetic.  Really?  What’s the point of tagging a street sign?  A utility box on a telephone pole?  A dumpster?  Ooooh, you claimed that dumpster!  That baby is yours!  You must be proud.


The new apartment?  You’re lucky to find a dumpster out in the open, much less anything with any graffiti on it at all.  It’s an upper-scale neighborhood.  No gangs tolerated.

The old apartment: The Decay (sort of an offshoot of The Hood) – our entire neighborhood is Apartment Row.  Our complex is maybe a step up in caliber from Section 8; although I know some public-assistance housing that actually looks better and has fewer problems!  Here’s what happened: developers threw some fire-trap shacks together in 1981, painted them to look nice, and….nothing changed.  They could barely muster a cosmetic facelift on the exterior every few years.  And when they do, they rave: “come check out our new renovation!!”  Umm, people don’t live on the outside of the apartment, they live on the inside…which still hasn’t changed one iota.

Also, there are also complaints in online forums of sky-high electric bills despite tiny apartment sizes, due to management’s decision to cheap out on air-conditioning units and go with the smallest choice possible.  And shall we talk thin walls and shoddy, creaking floors?  Yes, you can hear everything.  And don’t even get me started on how the linoleum flooring was laid last so it crunches up around the dishwasher and wasn’t even bothered to be adhered to the floor with any sort of caulking (yes, it just curls up at the edges, in perfect harmony with roaches’ ideal hiding habits).

(The new apartment: See all of the above.  Add to that the fact that the new apartment is much more contemporary, without going all hideous HGTV on us.)

The old apartment: The Safety Hazard – since we’ve been here, there have been multiple fully-involved fires at these complexes.  There have been break-ins.  There have been arrests.  There is a major drug-dealing problem, confined to about two units.  Police don’t always respond in a reasonable timeframe.  And yes, we have now witnessed a gang fight…probably 2 of them.

(The new apartment: See above about the cleanliness and excellent maintenance, and lack of gang activity tolerance.)

The old apartment: The Parking – call me a snob (it’s OK, you can do it), but over the past nearly-2 years, I’ve grown very weary of seeing so many cars parked in premo spaces for weeks on end without moving.  A single guy (extremely unkept) owns about 4 absolute piece-of-crap cars, all over 25 years old, and all lacking full coats of paint.  Headlights that should close into the hood are stuck open.  His ugly-ass mini-van actually had a flat for weeks before he realized it.  Tired of our nightly struggle to find decent parking after 5pm, we complained to management.  Their response?  They didn’t even have a set limit on how many parking spaces each unit could occupy at once.  No policy whatsoever to enforce.

The new apartment: there is no such parking problem because they actually planned for enough space, and there are hardly any vehicles over 10 years old (in other words, no beaters).  In fact, I think our pickup truck is going to be the most beat up vehicle of all of them.

The old apartment: The Dark – we have 3 whole windows. Granted, they’re large – 2 patio doors and 1 full-length bedroom window.  But it almost resembles tenement housing in the Bronx.  And you look out into a parking lot.  No trees, no ambiance.  Even though we face southeast, and even in the middle of the day (or the morning, even), our apartment is like a black hole.  Yes, even with all blinds wide open.

The new apartment: can we say windows???  The entire west-facing wall of the living room is nothing but quality, solid windows.  Both bedrooms and the kitchen have similar wonderful windows.  All face west, with a tree in front.  Incoming light from the security lights across the campus will be effectively filtered out by real metal (not nearly-transparent plastic) blinds.  Woot!

The Kids’ Health – I am fed up with watching Maddie deteriorate in response to being stuffed in what is essentially a shoe box.  Half the square footage and maybe 20% of the light that she’s used to, she went months without seeing a bird or dead leaf to play with.  She’s not well.  Not too far gone yet, but I think the darkness, the cramped-ness, and the roaches have all gotten to her.  It’s time to get her the hell out.  Murphy too, although he doesn’t seem to be so affected.  I’m sure the bug infestations aren’t helping, though.

With the new apartment, Maddie gets her light and space back, and both cats get out of the roaches.  She gets a large kitchen, in which she can catch flying kitty crunchies and chase them across the floor, much like playing hockey.  We can probably bring her crock pot back and set it on a counter so she can curl up in it again.

Our Health – in addition to darkness, roaches, and God-knows-what-else, the vents haven’t been cleaned, so you know they’re moldy, which I am seriously allergic to.  The carpet is new but is cheap and has given off lots of toxic gas.  Smokers moved in downstairs and you can catch a whiff fairly frequently.  Dust is everywhere.  And we’ve had some really dumpy, trashy families with no pride bring in bugs, including bedbugs (and probably sustained the roaches, too).

Walking through the new apartment, I was trying to find the tiniest imperfections to put on the pre-move-in checklist, I simply couldn’t find many. I had to mark OK on a lot of the blanks.  Never had that happen before.  Even the A/C vents were completely clean.

OK, the cons of moving:
The Commute – currently, it’s 7 minutes and I never have to touch a main artery, much less a freeway.  It doesn’t matter when we leave the office because the traffic is the same; we notice no difference.

At the new apartment, our commute almost doubles to 12 minutes, and that’s if traffic is free-sailing, which in the afternoon it will be, but at night after closing, it will not be.  There’s no real easy, traffic-free way home, either.  Just gotta suck it up or leave at a different time.

Rent – currently, we pay pretty low rent.  Our new rent will be about 50% more (more like 33% over what our current unit is priced at right now and thus, where our rent would have increased to had we renewed our lease).  Overall, not too bad a jump, but we will feel it financially.  This will be offset by a much cheaper Time Warner package!

We lose AT&T Uverse – I love my Uverse.  I get fantastic download speeds, no internet usage caps, relatively reliable phone service, and an excellent cable lineup, without having to endure all of the pissing contests that Time Warner frequently tangles itself up in.  AT&T has been great.  However, there is no fiber-optic broadband capability at all in the new neighborhood.  (Why??  Those folks are the perfect market and there’s plenty of them!!  But I digress…)

So, we had to do what I swore we’d never do: go back to Time Warner.  We’ve had it before and couldn’t wait to get away.  In fact, opted for a more expensive service just so we could get away.  We shall see.

No real ham radio capability – at least, not easily.  Can’t drill holes or sport any obvious antennae.  And, we face west–the exact opposite direction.  That’s going to present quite the challenge.  I told hubby that if all else fails I’d drive him to a big hill where we can sit and check into TalkNet from a mobile station.  It’s a half hour a week.  We shall see on this one, too.

Pickier management – this is both good and bad.  It’s good in that they’re picky about who moves here and how they conduct themselves.  It’s bad in that they’re so picky that they highly discourage anyone from storing even bicycles on the deck (although many residents do).  And there is no drilling any holes for antennae, cable, or satellite.  That presents a few obstacles.

But overall, we think the pros of moving far outweigh the cons.  Even though the cons are fairly substantial, it’s not worth staying in our current building over.  In fact, we’re so solid in our decision to get the hell out that we are putting our notice in early (before the required 60-day deadline) and vacating our apartment 3 1/2 months early, even if it means paying double rent for that time.


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