This weekend marked the start of a brand new chapter in my life. I moved out of the house I lived in as a college student and into a new townhouse of my own. I no longer have roommates! Woohoo! Moving out was not as smooth as I had hoped, but I learned a lot in the process.
My previous roommates are great people. These four boys provided a lot of laughter and fun. Having roommates was the best way for me to save money on living expenses while I was in school and not making a lot of money. However, when you live with four other people, all with different schedules and personal preferences, there is a lot of frustration. After five straight years of sharing my living space with others, I was ready to have my own place with my boyfriend.
Our first step was determining our budget. We took several things into consideration when deciding our price range:
- Existing Debt (Student Loans, Car Payments)
- Quality of Life
- Upcoming Purchases/Expenses
- Savings Goals
We started with a big list of our current expenses and compared that to our goals for saving as well as our salaries, We didn’t want to spend more than 1/3 of our monthly salaries on rent and other living expenses, but ideally we would spend even less than that so we could build our savings. Michael and I determined a budget we were both comfortable with and stuck to it as we searched for our new place.
Figuring out or budget was just the first of many challenges in our housing search. Location was another major challenge because wanted to live in Portland. As it turns out, so do lots of other people. The rental market in Portland is super competitive, with too many people and not enough properties. We learned very quickly that we had to set ourselves apart from other potential tenants. We did this by:
- Including important information about our jobs and our lives in the first e-mail we sent to the property manager
- Presenting ourselves professionally at showings
- Bringing letters of reference with us to each showing
We also learned that our tastes didn’t exactly fit our budget. Our wish list included a modern, updated apartment or condo in a historic brick building within walking distance to downtown and with ample parking. Yes, we were dreaming big.
A unit like that was nearly twice our budget. Halfway through our search we had to reevaluate our wish list. We asked ourselves these questions:
- What was more important: Being close to work or entertainment?
- Would we sacrifice modern conveniences (dishwasher, in-unit laundry) for a better location?
- Where is the most practical location for our current point in life?
We ultimately decided that living downtown wasn’t the most practical decision for us. Parking is tough and rent is much higher for lower quality units. Once we came to terms with our budget and readjusted our wish list, we moved forward with our search. We finally found the perfect spot just a few minutes away from downtown but conveniently located near the highway for our commutes to work.
I learned a lot over the past few months of house hunting. It’s a process filled with challenges, but when you approach the search with clear guidelines and goals, the end result is super satisfying. We’ve found a lovely place to live and start a new chapter in our lives.
So, see ya later, Old Town and roommate life.
Hello Portland, I’m so happy to call this city my home.