Renting

The IKEA Furniture We Live With That Inevitably Ends Up on Craigslist

Two years ago, in a fit of mania and a deep desire to live in less hideous surroundings, I went to Ikea and bought a bunch of shit. My boyfriend and I lived in a one-bedroom on the first floor of a dumpy street, where we had a view of a blindingly bright auto repair shop that used more fluorescent paint than a rave. The apartment was stuffed with ugly hand-me-downs given to my boyfriend by his mother, and I’d occasionally wake up and gaze at my surroundings and think, “Am I 32? Is this what 32 looks like?” This crippling rumination often resulted with me on the couch on a sunny day, unable to do anything more than watch back-to-back episodes of Haven while eating gummy bears.

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You Will Totally Believe Everything In This Training Manual For Real Estate Brokers

A real estate broker with an unnamed firm left his training manual in the apartment of a one Mr. James Bell, who shares the best of it with all of us over at the Guardian. It is, well, it is what you would expect.

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As New Hosts on AirBnB, My Husband and I Sort of Break Even

My husband’s dream of moving his band’s weekly practices from a high-rent industrial building to the cottage crumpled, and we realized that in order to avoid financial ruin we would have to use it as a source of extra income. Since we still wanted to banish certain out-of-town company to the cottage, we decided to furnish the space and offer it for short-term rental on AirBnB.

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June With My Landlord

I went into labor around 6AM on the morning of June 2nd and around 2AM the morning of June 3rd, the kitchen light flickered on. One of us — probably not me as I was in labor — got out of bed, where we’d been trying to sleep in 7-minute intervals, punctuated by the worst pain of my life, for the past however many hours. Dustin tried the switch. It didn’t turn off. I got up between contractions and flicked the switch on and off like a madwoman, which I was in this moment. Sparks went off, the light — the terrible terrible florescent light that we go out of our way to never use — stayed on.

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Wealthy People Agitated by Real Estate Trend

What interesting lessons about personal finance and the economy can we take away from the fact that web sites like AirBnB and VRBO are upending the market for $1,000-a-night rentals in the Hamptons? Probably none. But it is marvelous to know that there is a therapist in East Hampton willing to report with a straight face that “one of her patients’ top anxieties these days [is] the explosion of short-term rentals.”

The rich really are different than you and me, aren’t they?

 

Photo by the author.

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When Your Airbnb Rental Catches on Fire

I haven’t traveled anywhere yet that’s made me consider using Airbnb (except maybe Madrid a few years ago), but here’s a good question to ask if you are ever looking at spaces: Is your place insured? Medina Eve learned to ask this after her Airbnb rental caught on fire due to a wood-burning stove:

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Places I’ve Lived: A Dormitory for the Arts, Urban Hilltops, and a Former Department Store

Where have you lived, Marissa Barker?

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College Is Expensive and the NY Times is ON IT

Yes, even the Gray Lady has seen fit to write about how soaring student loan debt makes it hard to get housing in New York City.

It would be easy to dismiss the whole exercise, especially because it refers to “real estate maturity” as a state of existence to which human beings should aspire, and because it reports both the breed and name of a frustrated apartment-seeker’s dog. However, for a piece of non-news reported by the New York Times, the article paints a refreshingly varied portrait of post-collegiate financial distress. After first introducing us to Tierney Cooke, the dog owner who finds living with roommates intolerable (“I couldn’t take it. They were all in college.”), the Times also presents the tales of a mother of a two-year-old and a marvelously disillusioned chemist.

There is truly nothing surprising in the fact that housing in one of the most expensive cities in the country is hard to get in the midst of long-term economic trends that send personal debt up and wages down. But the chemist, Joseph Trout, a former foster kid from Philly who made good, is a font of excellent financial advice for an era of scarcity.

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What I Learned About Renting While Living in Canada

When I moved halfway across the country to go to university at 17 it was my first time being away from my parents for more than a week. This was definitely not a problem; I had been focused on “getting out” for years. Unfortunately for me, my parents had no idea what they were doing, and neither did I. I’ve now lived in five different apartments of varying degrees of crappiness in three different Canadian cities with 10 different people. I would like to share with you some themes of my experience in the rental housing market, namely all the basic ways you can hopefully avoid similarly crappy experiences as much as possible.

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Solidarity Forever! Talking With a Radical Coop-Living Bride

Ester: Hello! Could you introduce yourself in a general way?

Rebecca: Um, I am a radical leftist extrovert nerd feminist Jew. I work as a fundraiser and communicator for a racial and economic justice community organization. I have lived all over the world and the East Coast.

Ester: And you are getting married this weekend!

Rebecca: That too! I am a “bride” and a “fiancee” (though I don’t identify as the latter). I am a partner to my partner as I have been for a while and a housemate and householder-homeowner-homemaker with three other people including said partner.

Ester: Your housing situation is unusual and — I think — fascinating. Can you describe it a little before we get into the details of the upcoming nuptials? Billfolders love real estate.

Rebecca: My partner and I were living in an awesome co-op house with four other folks, and our dear friends MB and JB also lived in an awesome co-op house. We all wanted to keep living the big-house-with-lots-of-people lifestyle and in several cases had done that from during college. So 10+ years into grownup co-op life I didn’t want to get married and disappear from my friends and really from myself into some partnered love/torture cave of nuclear family loneliness.

We talked with MB/JB a lot about living together and then there was this crazy confluence/opportunity: 3 sets of mutual friends own houses on the same block and we sort of happened on an open house on said block. The house was in some ways just another rowhouse but in others really ideal for a 2-family shared situation — like, there’s sort of 2 suites of bedroom/office/bathroom on the second floor, and a big 2-car garage, which is unusual in our city… so all of a sudden we were like OK let’s buy this thing. A week later (and a lot of fevered financial dealings, honestly) we had an offer accepted.

Ester: This, I should tell you, was always my childhood dream. To live with and among friends. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. But did you envision something like this when you were young, or younger?

Rebecca: This has been my dream as well, since let’s say college. It was always a little vague because it seemed sort of impossible: how do you find the right people who are also ready and willing at the time, etc.? I sometimes imagined myself in a bigger commune-y kind of thing but I like living in the city. I seriously feel very lucky and blessed to have these friends who were down for the whole idea and all of us are just having the best time. Lots of people’s response is like yours — they want this kind of thing too. It’s shocking to me that more people don’t try for it, but it is pretty unusual.

Ester: My best friend lived in an anarchist co-op once and she hated it; no one washed their dishes. And I lived on kibbutz once. It was less than ideal. But I think the reason a lot of people don’t try it is that it’s hard enough to mingle finances with one individual, a romantic partner — the idea of getting your money tied up with that of another couple can be pretty daunting. Money can kill relationships faster than anything, after all, except sex.

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Getting Renters to Save

Josh Barro proposes a plan to get renters to save through a myRA-for-renters scheme.

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How Much The Borrowers Owe Us

We moved in nine months ago, and The Borrowers have already constructed a nice little nest out of some of our stuff. Here’s what we’ve lost in our apartment:

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