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#1 of 21 Old 04-22-2013, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.  

 

Pros:

  • 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.  

 

Cons:

  • 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

$300-350 groceries

$120 gas

$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!


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#2 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 12:38 AM
 
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If it were me, I'd try to squeeze as long as possible out of the place and work on more savings so if that perfect compromise place comes up, you'll be in a position to consider it and maybe jump.

 

Is it possible as the kids get older for you and dd to share a room? I know not ideal, but as adults, it seems like we spend less time in our rooms as kids (or I know I do!). Perhaps a loft bed type situation where dd could have the top and her own 'space' and you would have yours too on the bottom. Again, probably not ideal, but might be workable.   

 

I live in a pretty small space, but my kiddos are all same sex and toddler still sleeps with me. 


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#3 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 09:29 AM
 
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Do your kids have a problem with lack of outside space?  Are there parks or schools nearby they can go to play on the playground?

 

Do your kids share the larger or smaller bedroom?  If the smaller, would you consider switching with them to give them some more space?  Have they complained about sharing a bedroom?

 

Slightly off-topic: I would drop the life-insurance on your kids.  The purpose of life insurance is to protect the family financially from loosing a breadwinner--- your kid's don't qualify.  You would be much better off putting that money towards savings or towards life or disability insurance for you.

 

I assume your student loan payment is already income adjusted if possible (I don't know much about that).  Do you qualify for any assistance you're not currently taking (food/ energy subsidized after school care/etc//)?


 

 

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#4 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 01:29 PM
 
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Just putting this out there.  Do you need daycare for the kids, at 10 and 8 they might be able to handle a couple hours home alone.  Just something to think about.


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#5 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just putting this out there.  Do you need daycare for the kids, at 10 and 8 they might be able to handle a couple hours home alone.  Just something to think about.

This is something I totally hadn't thought about and could possibly be feasible next year.  The morning is more of an issue than the afternoon.  They don't start school until 9 and I tend to leave around 6:30/6:45 most mornings.  Afternoon wouldn't be as long since they get out at 3:45 and I can get home by 5.  I'd need to find someone to get them to and from school because there's a REALLY busy road between here and their school that I don't think they're ready to cross yet.  I'll definitely have to think about it some more.

 

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Do your kids have a problem with lack of outside space?  Are there parks or schools nearby they can go to play on the playground?

 

Do your kids share the larger or smaller bedroom?  If the smaller, would you consider switching with them to give them some more space?  Have they complained about sharing a bedroom?

 

Slightly off-topic: I would drop the life-insurance on your kids.  The purpose of life insurance is to protect the family financially from loosing a breadwinner--- your kid's don't qualify.  You would be much better off putting that money towards savings or towards life or disability insurance for you.

 

I assume your student loan payment is already income adjusted if possible (I don't know much about that).  Do you qualify for any assistance you're not currently taking (food/ energy subsidized after school care/etc//)?

Re:  outside space--that is their number one complaint.  There is a school playground about 2 or 3 blocks away and a really great park a little farther away.  Maybe I just need to make it more of a priority to get to those.  I'm just so exhausted when I get home, I don't really want to go anywhere (I teach 2nd grade--and no, definitely don't want them to go to the school I teach at ;))

 

Re:  the size of the rooms--see my response to Momsteader below.  They are okay with sharing a room most of the time, but definitely complain about privacy.  

 

Re:  life insurance--I talked to my dad and he said it might be worth it to hang onto it.  The purpose of it is really in case the cost of funeral/burial expenses is ever necessary for them (totally morbid), but then it converts to a full life insurance plan for them when they turn either 18 or 21 and the cost to them stays the same (it's less than $12 each).  My dad said you can't get life insurance for cheaper than that anywhere.

 

Re:  student loan--I really want to just pay it down as much as possible.  I feel like once that is paid off, I will have a lot more to work with on a monthly basis.  I believe my income is too high (barely) to qualify for any other assistance.

 

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Is it possible as the kids get older for you and dd to share a room? I know not ideal, but as adults, it seems like we spend less time in our rooms as kids (or I know I do!). Perhaps a loft bed type situation where dd could have the top and her own 'space' and you would have yours too on the bottom. Again, probably not ideal, but might be workable.   

I would LOVE it if one of the bedrooms was bigger than the other, but they are both pretty tiny.  I've got a queen mattress on the floor of my room and a bookshelf on one wall, but there's only about a foot and a half of space at the foot of the bed, a foot on one side, and about 2 feet on the other.  TINY!  I just don't see how we could really share a room.  Plus I have a boyfriend who stays over sometimes and that won't work ;)  I'm thinking maybe I could figure out some fun loft configuration for their room where they could each have a curtained off area...gotta look into that a little bit more.

 

Thanks for the input...keep the suggestions coming!  


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#6 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 08:15 PM
 
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Maybe the living room could become your bedroom? I did that in one apartment, for a year or 2, and it worked for us.
 

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#7 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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I like the idea of having you sleep in the living room.  You might be able to keep your clothes and bookshelf in your daughter's room, but sleep on the couch (futon?).  IMO 10 and 8 are old enough to walk and play at the park themselves.  Maybe you could incorporate that into them watching themselves after school, they could hang out at the park for a majority of the time.

 

The street:  How busy are we talking?  No crosswalk?


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#8 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 10:09 PM
 
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http://www.oploftbed.com/

 

These are awesome! My boys built their set themselves (11 and 15 at the time) with a little adult guidance in buying the wood. They did full mattresses top and bottom with headboards and so they each have their own 'space' even though it really takes up the majority of their tiny bedroom. 


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#9 of 21 Old 04-23-2013, 11:57 PM
 
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Your kids are still little and sharing shouldn't be a big problem.  I didn't get my own bedroom until 13 and it never bothered me.  I think privacy become a higher priority once they're entering puberty.  Which probably won't happen for your girl for another couple years.  I'd work hard to pay off the student loan and free up more money, and look again in a year or two.


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#10 of 21 Old 04-24-2013, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I like the idea of having you sleep in the living room.  You might be able to keep your clothes and bookshelf in your daughter's room, but sleep on the couch (futon?).  IMO 10 and 8 are old enough to walk and play at the park themselves.  Maybe you could incorporate that into them watching themselves after school, they could hang out at the park for a majority of the time.

 

The street:  How busy are we talking?  No crosswalk?

Yeah, maybe I could sleep on the couch and steal my bed back if my boyfriend is here (which is, at the most, every other weekend)...definitely an option.  As far as walking to the park, my own street is also really busy.  I live in Denver (in the city) and it just kinda freaks me out.  I dunno, maybe if I really focus on street safety we can transition to going to the park alone.  I think I'm still just thinking they're so little ;)

 

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http://www.oploftbed.com/

 

These are awesome! My boys built their set themselves (11 and 15 at the time) with a little adult guidance in buying the wood. They did full mattresses top and bottom with headboards and so they each have their own 'space' even though it really takes up the majority of their tiny bedroom. 

Super cool!  I love the idea of a bar for clothes storage under the loft too.  Definitely could work!

 

I'm also going to continue looking for other apartments in my neighborhood.  Maybe I'll get lucky and find even a garden level apartment in a house converted to apartments so there's a yard.  These are all really good things to think about.  I'm pretty sure that no matter what, they'll still be sharing a room, even if we move.


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#11 of 21 Old 04-24-2013, 10:06 AM
 
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My eldest way just talking about how much she misses our yard in Japan! It was basically the size of a very large balcony, and yet she has fond memories of playing outside our house. We live there from 1.5 to 7 for her, and it was just normal for her. Kids can  have different expectations--the entire time we lived there I wished for a lawn for the kids to run around, turns out they liked the small lot full of pea gravel

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#12 of 21 Old 04-24-2013, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My eldest way just talking about how much she misses our yard in Japan! It was basically the size of a very large balcony, and yet she has fond memories of playing outside our house. We live there from 1.5 to 7 for her, and it was just normal for her. Kids can  have different expectations--the entire time we lived there I wished for a lawn for the kids to run around, turns out they liked the small lot full of pea gravel

You know, I think if my ex didn't have the influence he has on them, my kids would be the same way.  He has made sure that he's "so much better than me" by buying a house that's too big for them with a big yard and stuff like that.  Makes it much harder for me to sell them on the whole simplicity thing!  I will say, though, they are much more active mentally here at least.  We don't have a TV and I see a TON of awesome creativity manifest in this tiny place :)  


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#13 of 21 Old 04-24-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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I shared a bedroom with my mom until I was 14. When she wanted time with a man, she'd go to his house, or arrange for us to go somewhere, or have me sleep in a different room that night. She'd always make me feel like it was a special privilege for me. (Honestly, I never even really realized she sometimes spent the night with men until I was older, looking back. She was careful about that.) I think you could totally do that with your daughter -- either you sleep in the living room, and switch with her on nights your boyfriend is over, or share a room with her and let her sleep in the living room just those nights.

I would definitely work on whatever is necessary for your kids to have more independence, both so that they can go down to the park by themselves and so that you can spend less on childcare. It might take a lot of time and effort teaching them the necessary skills and getting yourself comfortable in the knowledge that they are safe together, but in the end it will be so worth it!

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#14 of 21 Old 04-24-2013, 06:23 PM
 
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"(2-3 bedroom houses rent for upwards of $2000/mo--insanity!)  "

 

I lol'd. I pay $2100 for a 650 sq ft one bedroom apartment in new jersey. :( frownies

 

Anyway, it sounds like your situation is pretty great, except for the laundry. A nice walkable neighborhood is better for kids than any yard. I'd get them comfortable crossing that busy street ASAP, though. Unless it's like an interstate or something they can probably handle it and that would free them up to walk to school. (Though I wouldn't be shocked if some parent or principal tried to call CPS on your for it!)

 

I think $400 a month in extra money is pretty razor thin. One car repair or worse than usual dentist visit would wipe you out for the month. I know, because I'm pretty much at the same place (thank you New Jersey rents!!) . Keeping the credit card balances from growing is hard sometimes.  Thus I definitely wouldn't consider  higher rent at this particular time.

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#15 of 21 Old 04-26-2013, 08:08 AM
 
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Some great suggestions here! I think you can get more time out of your current place, it sounds ideal in a lot of ways!

 

I like the idea of reducing cost by cutting after care for next year. I also agree w keep the life insurance. It isn't that much for peace of mind. How much longer on your student loan?

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#16 of 21 Old 04-26-2013, 09:11 AM
 
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PS, I want to add that I also agree with keeping the life insurance. My MIL bought life insurance for all of her kids when they were little, and still keeps up the payments. This meant that my husband (the breadwinner of our family) had decent life insurance when our family was starting out and we couldn't afford to pay for it ourselves. If, God forbid, something had happened to him, that life insurance would have paid for the funeral and kept our family afloat until I could work something out for the long term.

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#17 of 21 Old 05-06-2013, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of the advice.  I'm still torn as to what to do.  Now I'm thinking it might be better to have a little bit more outside space (meaning moving to the suburbs), because then the kids won't always want to go places--they'd have outside space right at home.  It would be kind of nice to be closer to hiking and the mountains, because realistically, that's what I want to do more than going to get coffee or out to eat in a hip neighborhood ;)  I'm just sick of looking at stuff on craigslist and getting discouraged.  If my ex wasn't being such an a%^&* about things, my kids would be going to a really awesome school AND I'd be able to afford the type of living situation I want.  I think I'd win in court (yes, he filed a motion for sole decision making regarding education because I want to send them to a school that is 6 miles farther away from his house than their current school...oh and did I mention that I have full decision making because the whole divorce originally went down as a domestic violence case?  Yes, I'm just a little bit pissed about all of this),  but my dad is paying my legal bills and said he isn't going to pay them anymore if this all continues, so I felt obligated to take his advice and send a counter offer over, which would keep them at their current school.  That all just doesn't feel right, though.  Ugh.  I don't know what to do.  I wish my lawyer would just work for me out of the kindness of her heart because she knows he's being so unreasonable (but I know that wish is unreasonable on my part!)  


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#18 of 21 Old 05-07-2013, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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UPDATE!  Things totally changed yesterday.  I realized that if I move a little bit south, we could get a lot more for our money.  There is a public fine arts school right across the street from a condo we're going to move into.  The huge benefit to all of this is that my parents live really close to there and work only 5 minutes away, so will be able to help with before/after school care (although I definitely want to start transitioning them to being home on their own).  So there is a slight increase in cost for the place we're moving into, but I'll still have about the same amount of money left over each month that I do now because of the savings from before/after care.  And the benefit of living so small for the last 3 years is that this place we're moving into seems downright luxurious!  We're gonna double our space (1150 sq ft--still not huge, but there are vaulted ceilings that make it seem really spacious!)  There's a loft plus 2 bedrooms, which means the kids will get their own rooms.  There's a washer and dryer!  A garage!  A pool in the condo complex!  And a huge green space right outside that I don't have to take care of.  Crazy how the tides turned so quickly from yesterday morning.  I am SUPER excited!!  It will be a 5-10 minute longer commute for me to work (about 25 minutes now), but I think the benefits of living in this place will outweigh that.  We're moving June 1st.  It's gonna be a great summer!! :)


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#19 of 21 Old 05-07-2013, 07:24 PM
 
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UPDATE!  Things totally changed yesterday.  I realized that if I move a little bit south, we could get a lot more for our money.  There is a public fine arts school right across the street from a condo we're going to move into.  The huge benefit to all of this is that my parents live really close to there and work only 5 minutes away, so will be able to help with before/after school care (although I definitely want to start transitioning them to being home on their own).  So there is a slight increase in cost for the place we're moving into, but I'll still have about the same amount of money left over each month that I do now because of the savings from before/after care.  And the benefit of living so small for the last 3 years is that this place we're moving into seems downright luxurious!  We're gonna double our space (1150 sq ft--still not huge, but there are vaulted ceilings that make it seem really spacious!)  There's a loft plus 2 bedrooms, which means the kids will get their own rooms.  There's a washer and dryer!  A garage!  A pool in the condo complex!  And a huge green space right outside that I don't have to take care of.  Crazy how the tides turned so quickly from yesterday morning.  I am SUPER excited!!  It will be a 5-10 minute longer commute for me to work (about 25 minutes now), but I think the benefits of living in this place will outweigh that.  We're moving June 1st.  It's gonna be a great summer!! :)

 

Such excellent news - congrats!

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#20 of 21 Old 05-08-2013, 05:02 PM
 
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Whole life insurance is generally considered a bit of a scam, with term life insurance being the more thrifty. So that benefit, along with the fact that you could probably save a lot on a funeral by doing things yourself (I don't mean taking them and burying them, I mean all the arrangements and doing a cremation through a real coop), kind of makes keeping their life insurance pointless.

http://wealthpilgrim.com/life-insurance-for-children-never-buy-it-heres-why/

http://www.smartmoney.com/plan/insurance/term-or-whole-life-8011/

http://wealthpilgrim.com/term-life-insurance-vs-whole-life-insurance/


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#21 of 21 Old 05-09-2013, 12:26 PM
 
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UPDATE!  Things totally changed yesterday.  I realized that if I move a little bit south, we could get a lot more for our money.  There is a public fine arts school right across the street from a condo we're going to move into.  The huge benefit to all of this is that my parents live really close to there and work only 5 minutes away, so will be able to help with before/after school care (although I definitely want to start transitioning them to being home on their own).  So there is a slight increase in cost for the place we're moving into, but I'll still have about the same amount of money left over each month that I do now because of the savings from before/after care.  And the benefit of living so small for the last 3 years is that this place we're moving into seems downright luxurious!  We're gonna double our space (1150 sq ft--still not huge, but there are vaulted ceilings that make it seem really spacious!)  There's a loft plus 2 bedrooms, which means the kids will get their own rooms.  There's a washer and dryer!  A garage!  A pool in the condo complex!  And a huge green space right outside that I don't have to take care of.  Crazy how the tides turned so quickly from yesterday morning.  I am SUPER excited!!  It will be a 5-10 minute longer commute for me to work (about 25 minutes now), but I think the benefits of living in this place will outweigh that.  We're moving June 1st.  It's gonna be a great summer!! :)

 



Awesome! I'm so happy you found a great solution.


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