The Cost of Moving: Learning Who You’ll Become

The exposed brick wall is on the other side.

I am now the proud tenant of a loft-style studio apartment with exposed brick walls, wood-beam ceilings, and matte-black appliances.

For $650 a month.

This is by far the nicest apartment I’ve ever lived in. There’s a dishwasher and a washer-dryer in the unit. I get my own storage closet for everything that can’t fit in the studio. Nothing is broken or worn out; nothing’s even been used yet, because I am the first tenant ever to live in this apartment. (It’s an historic building that’s being renovated into apartments and retail space.)

Yes, it’s a studio and not a one-bedroom—but it’s downtown, right next to the river and the symphony and the library and the community theater and all the rest of it.

I am so excited.

The thing about apartment hunting is that you have to come up with a different version of yourself for every potential apartment. Three days ago I was pretty sure I was going to be the person who lived in one of those big apartment complexes with the white walls and the beige carpets. I’d ride my bike along this gorgeous trail to get into town. I’d have rain gear, panniers full of groceries, the whole bit.

Two days ago I was tempted to be the person who lived in this rundown Victorian house that had been chopped into apartments, just because I loved the woodwork. I seriously considered it, even though there was a mouse problem and a spider problem and a “these doors don’t close all the way” problem.

Then this ad for these brand-new studios popped up on Craigslist, and suddenly I’m the kind of person who lives in an historic building with an exposed brick wall. I probably won’t need a bike now, which is a shame because I really enjoyed riding one. Maybe I could get one for weekends and those incredible trails.

But first I need furniture that makes sense in this apartment, because none of my broken-down, cheapo-deapo stuff currently fits. I’m tempted to go back to the plan of chucking everything except my clothes, books, and a few other necessities and starting over. There’s still time to cancel the $1,661 moving truck.

I realize I am stepping onto a dangerous path here. Although I could probably furnish a studio apartment for around $1,661, what I’m actually doing is changing what I value. I’m telling myself to invest in this place, when I’d previously valued my ability to get by with the cheapest possible furniture and gear.

But… I’m also thinking about doing this the Nicole way, which means going to antique and consignment shops (which are plentiful, I visited one on Monday) to get my stuff, not buying an $800 reclaimed pine bedframe from some furniture store. I will reclaim my own pine!

So maybe I’m not, like, changing my values that much.

And the irony is that I’ll probably be able to find high-quality secondhand furniture for less than I spent on Ikea’s second-worst couch, and once I get this place set up it will be way less expensive than living in Seattle.

There are still many units available, if you want to move to Iowa.

UPDATE: I drafted this yesterday evening, and since then I’ve learned that the tenant who plans to move into my Seattle apartment is also interested in buying my furniture. So I canceled the moving truck. I’ll figure out what to do with the forks and the iron and the vacuum cleaner. This is really happening.

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