So here's the situation:
I am a single mom of a 9 yo girl and 7 yo boy. We've lived in the same apartment for almost 3 years now.
- It's 6 blocks from their school and in a great neighborhood.
- We can walk to a lot of great places and have easy access to a lot.
- I can totally afford my rent AND it includes all utilities (wifi too) except electric, which is at most $40/mo if I run the air conditioning all the time, but is under $20 most months.
- It's in great condition--hardwood floors, nice appliances, and an awesome fireplace.
- It's tiny--575 square feet (not a huge con--I actually love small spaces, but it's getting hard to be in this small of a place with a boy/girl sharing a room).
- My kids share a room and it's small.
- There's a coin operated washer and dryer in the building, meaning no laundry in my apartment.
- No balcony, no outside space (courtyard in the building, but not really a space to play).
- My kids are the only kids in the building.
I'm not so concerned about the size as I am about having outside space for them. The big problem is that I can't afford to live anywhere else in this neighborhood. Most other apartments this size are renting for at LEAST $200-300 more than I pay. Getting a house in this area is pretty much impossible (2-3 bedroom houses rent for upwards of $2000/mo--insanity!) Even surrounding neighborhoods are crazy expensive. I got my kids into a Waldorf charter school for next year, but my ex is giving me so much hell, I don't know if they're going to be able to go there. Which brings me to thinking about where to move. If they are going to stay at their current school, I don't want to move too far away. I already have to leave for work around 6:30am and sometimes don't get home until close to 6pm. Moving farther away would just make my days that much longer. Where we live is really convenient.
One of my big questions is: am I being unrealistic with my expectations of what to pay in rent? I'm currently paying half of my income in rent (not including child support...if that's included, that percentage goes down to 38). The rest of my monthly budget looks like this:
$282 student loan payment
$24 kids life insurance
$80 car/renters insurance
$372 before/after care for kids
$100 miscellaneous expenses
That leaves a little more than $400 left over each month, which I've been splitting between a sinking fund and paying more on my student loan. Should I expect to pay some of that extra money in rent? My budget is pretty tight as it is.
My other big question is: do you think it's necessary to move, or can I squeeze out some more time in this place? I almost moved last summer, but then decided it made more sense to stay here, for reasons mentioned above in my pros list. Help me! Any advice or perspective would be much appreciated!