Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Champagne Wishes and Dishwasher Dreams

(Currently listed at $950 a month, this 1 bedroom/1 bath charmer on Goliad is close to public transportation and the new Whole Foods! Tennant pays all utilities including malaria-preventing mosquito netting costs.)

I am looking for a new place to move. My problems with my current place have been well documented in this blog. Let’s just say that I miss Lakewood and living on the edge of Uptown ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Now I am the first to admit two things: a) I have a very low standard of living and b) I have been incredibly lucky in the past with finding extremely cheap places to live. But I have become borderline obsessed with what I perceive as the next big leap up the food chain for me in my 28th year of living on this planet. I want a dishwasher and/or a washer and dryer. I am not kidding.

Just thinking about what it would be like to be able to just put dishes into a machine that washes them for you and not potentially gash your finger open and almost require stitches when a soapy glass tumbler slips and becomes an impromptu scalpel makes me all giddy. The thought of being able to do laundry ANY TIME is like thinking about having my own private plane and pilot which I could command to take me on late night runs to In-n-Out Burger on a whim. I thought about what it would be like to have an ice-maker the other day while looking at apartments, none of which were in my price range. The only way I can describe what the thought of an ice-maker felt like would be like if you took every “getting married in a white chapel in a beautiful gown to the handsomest man in the world” montage from any movie but instead of a handsome groom, it would be a device that makes ice by itself and doesn’t require you to constantly refill trays with tap water.

Now remember that I grew up pretty poor so not having these things isn’t like a daily struggle. I wash my dishes by hand. I save up quarters to do laundry throughout the week. I try to go on ice cube making sprees a few times a week to ensure I don’t run out unexpectedly. But just to think about the luxury of not having to do those things makes me swoon. So here’s my quandary: when did those things become so expensive? I have been driving around the area of town I have lived in, other than this recent foray into slumming Uptownism, ever since I was 18. I drove around Lower Greenville/Lakewood assuming I would just copy down the numbers of the crappiest places I could find and one of them would be in my price range and if one of those places had a dishwasher, well wa-hey! I drove around for hours copying down numbers and descriptions. Then I called those numbers. Then I sat on my couch and stared at the wall and realized that I might have to live in a cardboard box under Trinity River bridge for the rest of my adult life.

The guideline that I have read about all these places is that: “As a guideline, your monthly net income should be at least 3 to 4 times the rental amount.” So let’s say that you should make (net per month) three times what you pay in rent a month to be able to afford to live in a place. Well, I have yet to find even the darkest, dankest, dreariest near-teardown (with no dishwasher, natch) for less than $700 a month before bills. So you’re telling me that someone needs to be making $30,000 a year to afford the cheapest one bedroom apartment in Lakewood? When did this happen? When will I ever be able to have a dishwasher or a washing machine?

I always love when I am moving somewhere and people tell me about places on their street that look “cute” or “affordable” or “decent” or “updated” and then I find out what the place is renting for a month and wonder if my friend is under the impression that I am hooking on the side or something. I also like it when people ask me things like “how big a place are you looking for?” or “do you mind if it needs a little work?” To answer that and any other questions, let me introduce you to Amanda’s Criteria for Renting an Apartment:

1. Bugs must be of a species that can be killed with either a can of poisonous spray or a shoe or combination thereof.
2. If wiring is old and an event occurs (as it has in previous apartments) where I unplug an alarm clock and flames lick out of the outlet, singe the wall and char the bottom of the curtains hanging above the outlet, I would like to be able to get the outlet fixed in the next calendar month if possible.
3. I need whatever amount of room that is in my price range. I didn’t pay for any of my furniture so if it doesn’t fit, I can just leave it on my porch until someone steals it or the neighbors follow suit and we rename our street Little Denton.

In all seriousnessosity, I am really starting to get very frustrated by the whole experience. I understand that cohabitation with either a significant other or a roommate is one way to be able to afford such outrageous luxuries as a dishwasher or other automated appliances. But I like living by myself. Scratch that, I have to live by myself. I cannot ever see myself having a roommate again as it is always a recipe for disaster. So what is one to do? The only answer, fiscally speaking, that I have found is “move to Arlington” which I just can’t see myself doing. Where are all the deathtrap duplexes with amateur-installed garbage disposals and jimmyrigged water heaters that were so prevalent only a few years ago? I miss those places and their dummy smoke detectors. Because if $900 a month is the new median rent price for an aging shitbox of an abode these days, please forward all correspondence to my new address at:

Amanda Cobra
1 Honda Accord Place
Dallas, TX Depends


Anonymous said...

House, rent to occupy. Write the lease to your specs.

Tom said...

I have a friend who found a garage apartment near the Park Cities a few years back. Not sure if it had a dishwasher and washer/dryer, though.
Perhaps some of the larger Lakewood homes that haven't been bulldozed offer similar options.
I lived just south of Greenville and Mockingbird for 4.5 years. My apartment was affordable and had a dishwasher, but didn't have washer and dryer in the unit.
I think some of those places may be out there, but I fear they've also been McMansioned. Best of luck with your quest.