Move or stay put?

As some of you might remember, I moved from NYC to the suburbs because I was opening an office there. So far, my main business (tutoring) is going well. The extension isn’t doing as well, because it’s taking MUCH more time and money to get going than my business partner and I had anticipated.

When I gave up my apartment in Manhattan, I moved into a room in a house in the suburbs, reasonably near the office. The room is cheap ($790/month, including utilities and laundry) but lousy. My roommate/landlord is basically a decent person with good motives, though he’s a little odd. Because we have very different hours, we don’t see each other much. But there are some major drawbacks to staying here.

By some miracle, I found a semi-reasonably priced apartment that’s a 10 minute walk to work. It would double my total costs for rent, utilities, and laundry, though. It would be a major, positive change in my life to get to move into this apartment, but it would make emergencies and major business purchases harder to handle, for at least the next few months. My income can vary from month to month. Right now, things are going well, but there’s no guarantee that will continue through December, January, and February. (Unless I really screw something up, I’ll be insanely booked by March. If I incur extra expenses in winter, I could probably pay them off in spring, though I don’t know that I want to count on that.)

I think I’m moving into the apartment, but I haven’t signed the lease yet. I’d love to know your thoughts. Here are all the reasons I want to move:

  1. My landlord/roommate refuses to heat the house above 50F (10C) during the day and 40F (4.5C) at night. Because the windows in my room are drafty, the temperature in my room is often even colder. Getting out of bed and taking a shower both take immense amounts of willpower.

  2. For the last couple of months he’s been refusing to make what I’d consider essential repairs to the kitchen, so I no longer cook or eat there. (The dishwasher leaks. A lot. It floods the whole kitchen floor. The dishwasher obviously isn’t cleaning the dishes, but he’s still using it and demands that I use it, too. Old food and grease has built up in the dishwasher, to the point that it makes the kitchen smell.)

  3. Parking and commuting have also been issues. In theory, this house is a 30 minute bike ride from the office, but you’d be suicidal to actually apply that theory to practice, thanks to traffic and road design that’s hostile to pedestrians.

And what should be a 10 minute drive to the office can frequently become half an hour. Not exactly what I’d bargained for. I expect this will get worse in winter, especially since I have to park my car outside. That means adding extra time for defrosting, scraping, and sometimes shoveling.

  1. This house doesn’t have a sewer line. When there’s lots of rain–which has happened several times this fall–you can’t shower or flush a toilet. If it rains enough, water backs up into the drains. (I assume it also backs up into the unfixed dishwasher. Fun!)

  2. My roommate/landlord recently lost his fight with local government and has been told he has to put in the sewer line. Supposedly, construction is going to start in a week or so. That means there will be lots of noise during the mornings, when I’m often sleeping.

Finding a better room to rent has proven challenging, as has finding a non-owner-occupied roommate situation. As far as I can tell, it’s either: stay in my room and keep looking; move into this miraculously located apartment, or; move into a room somewhere else, that’s probably more expensive, with a much longer commute, and pray that it turns out better than what I have now.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

tl;dr version: I’m currently living in a room that’s cheap but crappy, in order to put money into my new business. Things are going OK, but not totally beautifully, and the room is turning out to be worse than I’d expected.

By some miracle, I found an apartment that would be a major improvement in my living situation. But it would also double my monthly living expenses. I’m unlikely to find such an apartment again any time soon, and I’d like to avoid freezing to death where I’m living now.

Should I take the apartment?

Oh, and a couple of other things I’d forgotten to mention in my OP: The apartment lease would go for a year. That would include this summer, which would limit any travel options I might otherwise have. (I usually have little work for much of June and July.)

I’d live on ramen and store brand peanut butter before I’d stay with Creepy Carl in his sewage his any longer.

Move. Nothing about your current situation is tenable.

You know the answer.

Move already.

Move, and file complaints with the relevant housing authorities.

When do you have to decide about this particular apartment? It sounds like it will put quite a strain on your financial situation, and possibly even some risk. I would say that if you can stand to wait you should look for another apartment within your existing budget. Yes, you will be looking at the longer commute, but I would hope you could get into a better situation then the one you’re in now. I think that if you can suck it up for another year or so with a sub-optimal aprartment, it will be better for your business. If I’m reading that wrong, go for the apartment you’ve already located.

ETA: To clarify, leave the apartment you’re in now, but stay within your current budget. Stay away from your dream apartment until your budget can truly support it.

From what you’ve said, the ONLY drawback to moving is maybe not being able to afford it for the space of one month or maybe two.

Is that wishful thinking, or accurate?

If it’s accurate, can you find someone who will “have your back” for a few hundred dollars, only if needed, and only during that limited time period?

Get the hell out of where you are, unless the next step is actually living in the car. Because where you are living is not nicer than living in the car.

Your roommate’s “a bit odd”? He’s dangerous, that’s what he is!

Spend the extra money and get the apartment. If money gets really tight, maybe get a roommate of your own, but anything is better that what you have now.

Yeah, I know that my current living conditions suck, but I’ve lived through worse. And this choice isn’t as simple as it sounds.

The new business is sucking money like crazy right now. The P&L and cash flow analyses say that it’s still more than worth our while, if we can get the damned thing going. And time is of the essence, here. I don’t want to have us fold because I’d just spent $3k we needed on my apartment deposit and rent. Furthermore, I don’t know that my projections of tutoring income are even semi-reliable, since this is my first year working out of the office, rather than going door-to-door. In the first few months, I found out that having an office made some weird changes to my cash flow. I got through that and made some adjustments. But it was scary as hell for a little while. And who knows what surprises the rest of the school year has for me?

What I’d really like to do is find some way to just live in the office for a while. The total cost of the business rent (tutoring and new business) is a bit less than what I’d paid for my apartment in NYC. Maybe I could get Creepy Carl (as BeeGee dubbed him) to take a few hundred bucks for letting me park the car in his driveway, store some of my stuff in the attic, and use his house as my home address. Then maybe I could both lower my expenses and have somewhere with reliable heat and no sewage or transit issues

And right now I’m working like crazy, having to make decisions all the time, and handling things changing constantly. I’d like for there to be something that’s constant and simple, even if it sucks.

Perhaps you could rent an apartment–and share it with a roommate.

I keep missing the edit window.

There’s also the fact that my estimates of expenses and timeline for the new business have been laughably horrible. Maybe I’m just not sharp enough to estimate expenses, period–living expenses included.

On the other hand–there’s nowhere else that’s all that much cheaper. The cheapest other option that would be feasible for me is $1k/month for a room, plus utilities. Would going to $1,400/month plus utilities be that big a difference? Couldn’t I just get a little more tutoring work to cover that? And woudn’t not having to buy gas help with the cost difference?

Am I being needlessly anxious about the expenses? As you can tell from the posting time of 3:32 am, I’m not sleeping too well, just thinking about it.

There’s also the fact that I owe $17k to the IRS. I found out that little gem a couple of weeks ago. That deserves its own Pit thread.

Yes, go ahead and tell me what a moron I am. Obviously, my judgement is terrible. As soon as some of the new business stuff is resolved, I’m working with an accountant to reduce my taxes and prevent the recurrence of more debt. (I know I’ll have plenty when I file for 2018, but maybe I could avoid it for 2019.)

PastTense—I’d love to rent an apartment and get a roommate, but there aren’t many people in this area who are in the same position as me. If I rent a two-bedroom apartment and don’t find anyone to take the other bedroom for a month or two, that puts me in an even worse position than I’d be in if I just moved into the apartment I want.

Can you start looking for someone else to share before renting, then look together? That also has the plus that you can get to know each other a bit first, so hopefully work out if you can tolerate each other’s lifestyles before committing to anything.

It does sound like you can’t really afford to commit to higher living costs right now. I can commiserate with having a godawful housemate situation and no money, I was stuck in similar situations for years, and yours does sound like something you really do need to get out of. That sounds like somewhere you’re likely to get sick, and you really can’t afford that right now.

At various times in my life, I’ve lived in pretty shitty places, ostensibly to save money. Not sure any were quite as bad as you describe, but possibly close. In my situations, tho, they always had SOMETHING going for them, such as location. And I often kept temps low to save more $, but nowhere NEAR as cold as you describe. I don’t think I could make it through a winter no warmer than 50F. (Well, I guess the pioneers survived, but not sure I would care to try.)

My main thing is, you are only talking about a couple of grand - the rent difference until you see business picking up in March. The way you describe your situation (and not trying to be overly critical of your business venture’s finances), it really doesn’t sound like a couple grand one way or the other ought to make a decisive difference. You can rationalize it any number of ways. With the shorter commute, you can spend more time at work, will be mentally fitter, whatever.

Gotta say, tho, with a situation as you describe, it is kinda crazy to hear you talking about a desire to “travel” next summer.

I say move. If the business fails, and you have to break your lease, well, what is another couple grand in sunk costs compared to maintaining your health and sanity?

Good luck - with your housing and business!

Your current living situation is only marginally better than Dumpster #2 at the local Safeway. You mentioned living at the office. If you can manage to keep yourself fed and clean (I take it there’s a bathroom there.), I’d say a sleeping bag on the office floor beats your current arrangements. I’m not sure of the legality of living there (Does the lease prohibit it?) , but if you could stick it out for a couple of months, you’d save over $1500, money that could be invested in the business.

Look for an Airbnb in the location, ask if they’d be interested in a longer term guest. You’d probably get a deal on the price.

It might be easier than you think!

It’s gets you out of weirdsville, and buys you the time to find something that truly suits your exact needs.

Good Luck!

I remember the original thread, I’m pretty sure I said move, because of the better location. Checks - I did indeed. Now it turns out the location (i.e. length/ease of commute) isn’t as great as you thought. Not only that, the living conditions are pretty bad - I got as far as point 1 of your OP and immediately thought “move”. Points 2-5 did nothing to change this conclusion.

However, your subsequent posts really worry me, if I’m honest. I’m afraid I’m somewhat going to take you up on your offer in your last post before this one. I don’t think you’re a moron, but have to question how likely it is that things will turn out well for you. I greatly admire those who take risks to set up their own business, as it’s something I could never do myself. But if I did, before I started I would want enough savings to cover about double the costs I expected to incur before turning a profit. It reads like you weren’t lucky enough to have that, rather you had a small amount of capital and are now trying to fund the business with what you have left over from your monthly income, which itself is not steady or necessarily reliable. And to manage even that you are forced to live in a horrible situation. I also assume you have no further savings and/or lines of credit you can use to help the business.

That being the case, my advice would be to move to the nicer apartment, and work damn hard at the tutoring to ensure you have enough money each month for your increased living costs. If you are lucky, the better living situation will free up a bit of extra time for you to work on the business. If you are very lucky, you will have a really good couple of months of tutoring that will allow you to give the business that little bit of extra capital to get it over the line.

Don’t think about travelling next summer - assuming you get that far, spend downtime when you have little tutoring work on improving the prospects for your other business.

Finally, if the business is such a good prospect but just needs a bit more investment, why won’t a local bank lend it the money? To be perfectly honest, if I were a good enough friend of yours to lend you anything (either to help you out with housing or to invest in the business), I wouldn’t expect to ever see any returns.

Sorry this is all so harsh, but you did ask for it. I really do wish you luck and hope it works out for you.

My advice: Quit thinking about reasons not to move out. Every time a negative thought presents itself, push that aside and focus on what you need to do instead. Decide to move out and then figure out how to make it happen. For example, don’t say “there aren’t many other people looking for roommates”. Go out and find people who are!!

If you can do that, you will also have a better chance of making your business succeed, because you need the same attitude there.

I would move… away from NYC altogether. For less than 1500 a month, you could own this house where I live. 2200 square feet, 3 bedrooms, a garage and a quarter acre. What’s sad is that my town is expensive for the area. Cities suck.