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#1 of 20 Old 02-26-2011, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are curently living with my parents since we've just returned home from out-of-province. I work in the town where we are living and DS is in kindergarten here.

 

We're looking for our own place and they're not cheap (they average $1,400+ for a town house or condo). We have some pretty ambitious financial goals for the near future.

 

Here are our options so far (after a few days of looking)

 

Option A: Renting a friend's 1BR apartment. It consists of a living room, a medium sized bedroom, bathroom, and small kitchen.

 

Pros: it's on the cheaper end ($950 inclusive a month), it's on a huge chunk of land, it's literally right next to DS's school (we can see his classroom windows from the living room), it's asthetically pleasing- a nice bright space.

 

Cons: it's small- it would take some creative configuring for sleeping. If it were dirt cheap, it would be a real contender, but we'd be saving about $300/mo....I'm not sure it's worth it. Coin laundry will soon be on sight. Person above us in another apt.

 

Option B: Renting part of a duplex, 2BR

 

It's the back half of a house, has a larger kitchen, a fireplace, 2 BR, a nice bathroom, garage, deck, yard, laundry in basement.

 

Pros: 2BR, new bathroom, fireplace, garage, deck, yard, only one connecting neighbour, the basement is un-finished but we could use it as extra space.

 

Cons: it has carpet throughout which I hate, it's not a huge space, it's more expensive, but still affordable in the grand scheme of things ($1,150 plus utilities), DS would likely take the bus to school.

 

I'm hoping we can go car-free over the summer and into fall which will save us about $300/mo.

 

What do you think? Is saving $300 worth losing a bedroom? It might mean us buying furniture to make it work.

 

I guess the fact that I can see either space working is a good thing. ...and we've only been looking for a week...but we're feeling very ready for our own space again.


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#2 of 20 Old 02-26-2011, 05:54 PM
 
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In the interest of giving an informed opinion...  What are your financial goals, and how long do you see yourselves living in either space?  6 months?  A year?  5 years?  How long is DS's potential bus ride?  Is either aparment more conducive to going car-free?  How expensive would utilities be in the larger apartment? 

 

Sorry, I tend to over-think things...  shy.gif


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#3 of 20 Old 02-26-2011, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't want to get overwhelmingly wordy with my initial post, but since you asked shy.gif...

 

We would like to call it home for 3 years ideally....DH is starting school in September doing a 3yr program and we have some pretty ambitious financial goals.

 

We're doing DR and hope to be done BS 2, which is paying off all debt in 2 months time. From there we'd like to get BS 3 well underway and ideally save up so we can find a place to call ours long-term.

 

Even the larger unit is far from large, so I can't see utilities being much. My guess would be $175 on average. I don't know the bus route, but it's still in town, I can't imagine it being longer than 15mins.

 

I just did the math, the 1BR would be 25% of my net income (net's what you bring home, right?) whereas the 2BR would be 35% if I include basic utilities once the bills will be all on me. DH is working too for now until he starts school in September. I expect that he'll work summers too.

 

I'm finding myself oddly drawn to the smaller unit, only because as a teacher, winters are busy and we're rarely home vs. summers we'll have lots of land to get out and enjoy. ...I think if DH and I can hammer a solid plan for making the small space work, it might be a viable option (things like he'll want a TV in the living space, where it's far from one of my priorities). The properties are comparable in location, both about equal distance from downtown, just in oposite directions.

 

 As long as DH can carpool into school or find a bus, we could go car-free for either....the larger one is slightly closer to my work, but I'd have to bus-it or cab-it in poor weather for either.


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#4 of 20 Old 02-26-2011, 07:58 PM
 
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My feeling is to go for the smaller, less expensive one. $300-400 difference per month is a *big* difference, especially if you are able to save all or part of it. That's $3600+ per year, which after 3 years is even more substantial. I like Dave's advice: live like no-one else, so later you can live like no-one else. I'm also a big outdoors fan, so that would be a huge factor for me. I could never live in the city again, simply because I like to have room to roam outdoors...

ETA:Maybe you can post some pics or a more detailed descripttion of the layout to get specific ideas about how to adapt to the smaller space. I've also seen books at my local library geared towards living in compact spaces. Little House on a Small Planet is one that comes to mind. While many of the stories deal with folks who have built their own eco-frieldly small homes, there are a lot of ideas that can be adapted to apartments or existing homes.

Good luck!


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#5 of 20 Old 02-26-2011, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If we do go for the smaller space, that will be a difference of about $300/mo AND if we can go car-free, even just for part of the year that's an additional $300/mo....that sounds dreamy.

 

Here's my go at describing it....you walk in through the front door (it's ground-level) and there's a closet to your right. You're basically in the living space now, with the living room to your left, the kitchen just ahead, and the bathroom right behind it. As you approach the kitchen, just against the wall to your right there's a wall of cupboards, and a built-in counter/desk space. The bedroom is off the living room.

 

I'm thinking if we can get a bunk bed that has a double on the bottom and a single up top for DS, we'd have enough space for a few thoughtful toys, and  we could all share the bedroom. It has a fairly large closet, so I'm hoping we won't need dressers.

 

DH wants us to have the living room as our bedroom and use  a futon, and while I think the futon's a great idea, I really like the idea of having a separate sleeping space and keeping that communal vs. being entirely DS's space with nothing to offer us, especially once he's gone to bed. If we do the bunk bed thing, even having guests wouldn't be entirely out of the question. 

 

There's no space for a table, so I'm thinking up against a wall, we could put a slab of wood on hinges and a leg that swings down for some eating space.

 

Oddly enough, I'm feeling so DONE with stuff, so the fact that this space would demand simplicity and order really appeals to me at the moment.

 

I might see if I can get back and take some measurements to be sure it's all feasible. One thing I find scary is that it IS out of our norm. I'd hate to get in there and not like it, especially after having already moved DS around twice this year. Then I think of European living and only having what you love and need and I like that.

 

We own a house out of town and have the basement for storage of camping gear and larger items if need be. We have a nice couch and a solid oak dining table from the in-laws, so we could hold on to SOME of our normal household stuff that we may want later...or maybe not...??


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#6 of 20 Old 02-27-2011, 06:17 AM
 
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So the larger unit is $1150 + utilities

Smaller is $950 which includes utilities?

 

You expect utilities to add about $175 to the larger unit?  That ends up being a big difference if I'm reading the utility costs correctly. 

 

The only thing I can see (financially) where it might  make sense for the larger unit is that it has in-unit laundry.  Coin laundry can add up.  A lot.  And if your goal is to go car free, what about the transport to and from the laundry?  You say coin laundry will soon be on site but what about until that happens or if it gets pushed back?  And in a smaller unit you'll have less storage for laundry in process and if you can only go to the laundry once a week you may need more clothing than if you had one in the unit where you could do a load whenever needed.  In the interest of simplifying, the in unit laundry could make a big difference.

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#7 of 20 Old 02-27-2011, 07:02 AM
 
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RE: the table - How about something like this: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20104718  It only seats 4, which could be a problem if/when you have guests, but we could always cram 6 people into our 4 person table at my apartment in a pinch.  You'd probably need to serve food from the kitchen and not have it at the table. 

 

I like your idea of having a designated sleeping area.  This way you don't need to convert your sleeping space back into living space every morning.  I have to admit, though, I'd miss having some privacy away from DS.  I can see the merits in your DH's suggestion to use the living room for yourselves.  Your family dynamics will determine your ideal solution, as everyone's needs are different. 

 

The wall of cupboards is separate from/in addition to the kitchen cupboards?  That should help you keep organized!  And it's great that there's already a little workstation, so you don't need a desk.

 

I, too, find the idea of radically simplifying appealing.  It's so hard to do without moving to a new space.  Everything has a "home" here in our current house, so there's no real incentive to purge (other than my desire to do so).  DH and I are talking about building a house, possibly ourselves (dizzy.gif), and we're trying to keep it small without being cramped.  It will be the home we live in for the rest of our lives, so I don't want it to be a huge chore for two old folks to keep up.  On the other hand, we have a 17 mo, and are considering adding another to our brood.  One of the things that's been suggested to us is to make a list of everything you do in your house and the room your currently do it in.  Then look at your activities and decide which activities need their own spaces and which can be combined into a common space or room.


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#8 of 20 Old 02-27-2011, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That table is amazing!!

 

DH is expressing some real concerns about space....whereas I'm seeing the lack of space as a blessing, really. We'll have to talk more about it. Part of his aprehension is the fact that he'd like to sell the house we own out of town, in which case we'd lose storage space. I would like to keep it as an income property. We have some serious discussion that needs to take place.

 

As for laundry, this smaller place happens to be a 3 minute walk from my parents or a 30second drive. They also have a huge house if we're ever feeling in need of a change of scenery.

 


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#9 of 20 Old 02-27-2011, 11:09 AM
 
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LP, we have that same table and we are a family of 6!  So it does work with more people, you just have to be a little creative (we have a bench for 2 kids, that we put at one end).  It is a great table.  :)


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#10 of 20 Old 02-27-2011, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DH said he'd do it if the rent were cheaper. I've asked if the landlord (our friend) would consider a lower rent and we'd take it tomorrow vs. having it sit until April 1st....we'll see!


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#11 of 20 Old 02-27-2011, 06:32 PM
 
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With it so close to your parents, I'd definitely take it!


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#12 of 20 Old 02-28-2011, 12:27 PM
 
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i lived in a 1 br with dh and dd1 til she was 4.5yrs.  doable, i agree

BUT

with your dh going to school and an older child, no way.

 

your dh will need a quiet place to study, unless you want him gone all the time to either the library or study groups, plus your son having playdates in your bedroom?

 

plus for a 3yr stay, i would think the cost to get new stuff that would fit (that was our biggest mistake, keeping what we had - huge bulky stuff from my grandparents)  those cozy european room styles aren't cheap.

 

i know i would miss dinner around a table and not being to have another family for dinner


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#13 of 20 Old 03-01-2011, 09:41 AM
 
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I think you could make it work. I would keep toys out of the sleeping space and make the bedroom for studying and sleeping. I'd define a small space for a few favorite toys in the family room. The laundry would be the only hold-up for me, but if you're parents really wouldn't mind, I'd do laundry there (and attempt to give my parents some money to off-set the cost of using their washer/dryer). I also think it'll be important to get out of the house during the summer if your ds is home more.

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#14 of 20 Old 03-01-2011, 10:49 AM
 
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I'd go with the smaller space. The promiximity to your sons school and your parents house are huge IMO. I think you're idea for sleeping arrangements is doable too. Study time for your husband could be tricky - how seperated are the living room and kitchen? Is studying at your parents house possible, or could you go there in the evening after your DS is in bed to give your husband somewhere quiet?
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#15 of 20 Old 03-01-2011, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd feel comfortable having people over, even for dinner. It would be no myth our place is small, but it's still a very functional space. A table is important to me, so we'll find one that can fit the space.

 

We're going back tonight to take some measurements to be sure my plan would work and we'll go from there. The landlord even came down in price after we put forth a lower offer (only a bit, but every bit counts). I'm hoping DH is okay with this, 'cause there's something about this space that feels really good to me and he's really worried it just won't work.

 

As for DH studying...I figure we'll have a workspace both in the entry way (the built-in one) and in the bedroom. Worse case scenario, DS and I can go out, or DH's parents are even in town and the library's fairly near or even a café downtown.


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#16 of 20 Old 03-10-2011, 01:11 PM
 
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I would totally take the smaller space. What I would probably do is use the bedroom like a family room/playroom/bedroom for ds. I'd get a loft bed and underneath store his toys/belongings -- or a low dresser to store his clothes, then you and dh could take the closet in his room for clothes (I'm assuming there's a closet in the bedroom). Then for the rest of the bedroom,  set up a place to play/hang out watch tv/do projects. Maybe a small loveseat and so on... I'm thinking that way toys and stuff can be contained in that room and you guys could also use it sort of as a family area before dc goes to bed -- then you can keep the living area more 'grown up'. Also, for playdates and so on the kids would have a place to hang while the parents hung in the living area.

 

I'd get a sofa bed (they make really comfy ones now) for you and dh in the living room. Futons are a bit... college?... but they do make some really nice ones now. Thinking of me and dh, we only use our bedroom to sleep basically (we still cosleep too), so it wouldn't be a hassle to 'make' the bed every day. I would get a storage ottoman specifically to store bedding during the day, which would also work as a "coffee table". I would think it would only take about 5 minutes to make/unmake the bed if you had the storage right there. I'd get smaller round storage ottomans for next to the couch/bed to store other things out of the way and to serve as extra seating (they are relatively inexpensive and work very well).

 

I could totally live in a one bedroom with our dc, even with another on the way. I ♥ small spaces and thinking of creative solutions though lol I think you should go for it.


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#17 of 20 Old 03-10-2011, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, we've taken it. We move in for April.

 

Our plans: 

- building an OP loft bed (twin up top). I would like to make that DS's space with his desk and playthings underneath, but DH would like to put our queen mattress underneath (we're building the extra-long, so that's an option) in order to have more floor space open. Whatever, we can change it as we see fit.

 

- we're going to stick with our couch for now until we can find a futon we love (the idea of having cushions, more to pull out, and sheets to do a sofa bed turns me off) if we feel necessary. I'm a big fan of keeping the TV behind closed doors, so we'll likely have a small hutch for our electronics (which we already own).

 

- I'd like to get a storage bench to keep by the door since we all leave with bags and lunches in the morning.

 

-I'd LOVE this table, but can't find it used....maybe buy it new next month?

 

- otherwise, we'll deal with things as they come up. We do have lots of closet space, I'm thinking I'll put a unit of shelves in the bottom, hang things on the rod, then put clear boxes of randomness up top (toys to cycle through, out of season clothing or whatever). I want to stream-line our storage so it doesn't appear cluttered, but it's hard to commit to one size and type of bin for a bunch of different things (I'm mainly thinking toys here).


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#18 of 20 Old 03-11-2011, 03:32 AM
 
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We were in a 1br (less than 400sq ft) with DD+cat for 3 years (well, one year I was pregnant but I you get the picture winky.gif).  Anyways, we all used the bedroom to sleep+play (the bed was a common play area) and then had the livingroom for work+play+eating.  One thing I'd suggest would be a couch like this one:

 

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S19877788

 

We had a similar one for years and it worked great for guests (or if you and DH want some privacy when you sleep).  Ours was way less than that price, though, but you might be able to find something cheaper actually going to IKEA  or used. 

 

Personally, I'd put you and your DH on the top on the loft bed and your DS below because then you'd have more privacy and you DS would have more floor space.  You could even put a small desk below for him to do any homework at. 

 

Oh, and we had company over all the time.  We just had an air mattress or a futon for them to sleep on and everybody ate with their plates on their laps since we didn't have space for a table.

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#19 of 20 Old 03-11-2011, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That's exactly what kind of couch we'd like....maybe a trip to our local IKEA's in order!

 

I tried to talk with DH about putting the queen up top, but he's dead-set against it. And on hand, it may really dwarf the room with that much space raised. 

 

We'll see how it all goes!

 

 


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#20 of 20 Old 03-11-2011, 05:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eirual View Post

That's exactly what kind of couch we'd like....maybe a trip to our local IKEA's in order!

 

I tried to talk with DH about putting the queen up top, but he's dead-set against it. And on hand, it may really dwarf the room with that much space raised. 

 

We'll see how it all goes!

 

 


It's probably one of the best places for small spaces, I so wish they'd have one in our country!  BTW, what I love about that couch is that it's so much more comfortable to sleep on than a normal pullout couch and it's either to put together since you're just moving pieces instead of dealing with springs etc.

 

BTW, I definitely get feeling liberated living in smaller spaces.  We've also been very limited by what we could buy for our apts and I think in the long runs it's been a good thing because we haven't spent as much $$ as others on both housing and furniture.  Also it's been great as a family because we've been forced to share and are constantly interacting with each other.  We're looking to buy a place in a few years and we're planning on picking something small in an apt complex with a lot more amenities than something larger. 

 

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