I've been thinking of moving to a more central neighborhood for a long time; I think it will be good for my social life (and mental health).* Also, as I noted in an earlier post, a change as small as moving one block away or taking a different route to the subway can make a big difference when it comes to meeting new people. What's more, I'm on this kick of trying to make myself happy, so why not rent an apartment in an area that's more happening and accessible (and satisfying) than my current one? Right? It's going to be more expensive--any neighborhood will be, since mine is one of the cheapest in (livable parts of) Brooklyn--and that makes me REALLY nervous. But hopefully I'll be able to handle the money.
Anyway, as I've looked at apartments over the last few weeks, I realized my real estate search has yielded some lessons that could be applied to dating.
1) HAVE STANDARDS--AND BE FIRM ABOUT WHAT'S NON-NEGOTIABLE FOR YOU
Before I started my real estate search, I decided I wanted to be on the top floor of a pre-war brownstone in an area that's close to at least two train lines.** And so, a couple weeks ago, I went to see a place that was, according to the building manager's wife, a good-sized 1BR on the top floor of a brownstone. When I got there, I saw that it was actually in a small apartment building. The property manager talked me into seeing the place ... which resembled a concrete storage unit. Immediately, I said, "This is NOT what I'm looking for."
He tried to tell me I wasn't going to find anything much better in my price range. Oh, for really? That's funny, because I'd seen a few better things in my price range a couple months earlier, when I'd been looking less seriously--when the market wasn't much different than it is now.
That got me wondering about the people who take those bunghole apartments like the one he was showing. Why do they--when there is so much better out there, for a similar price? (Did Lori Gottlieb write a companion book "Settling for the Good-Enough Apartment"?)
The only thing about my current apartment that's not ideal is that it's far away from everything. But the place itself is lovely and soothing, with two big skylights, four additional big windows, high ceilings, plenty of space, views of trees everywhere you look. And it's $350 cheaper than the crap-heap I describe above!
I think in dating, as in real esate, we can get to a point where we've seen so many possibilities, none of which are quite right, that we start to lose perspective. We give up hope. We lower our standards. We settle for second-best. And yet--we're supposed to live in these places, or WITH these people?
If we only hold out a little longer though ... who knows what we can find?
2) SEEING A LOT OF STUFF HELPS
The more apartments you see, the better your sense is of what's out there. Ditto with the boys (or the girls). Don't let a few crap real estate appointments--or meet-ups--get you down.
3) LOCATION MATTERS
I personally do not want to have to schlep for love. I want to live fairly close to my boyfriend-to-be. (Smart, sweet, funny Brooklyn boys--if you're out there--get in touch!) Commuting for a relationship doesn't interest me. So, just as much as I want to find an apartment in a neighborhood that's easy to get to, I want a BF in an apartment that's easy to get to. In a pair of pants that are easy to ... oh, never mind.
4) HAVING ENOUGH ROOM MATTERS
Last week, I saw an adorable 1BR in my price range, on a gorgeous block, in a perfect neighborhood--near all the trains and Prospect Park. The place had a cast iron sink, parquet floors in the closest, wooden shutters on the windows ... !
Unfortunately, however, the entire space wasn't much bigger than the bathroom in my current home.
Size matters in dating too--and I don't just mean height or weight (or that other kind of size). Does the dude have enough room in his life and heart for you? If he's a workaholic, maybe not. If he's still hung up on someone else, maybe. If he's emotionally unavailable, maybe not.
5) FINANCES MATTER
The joker who tried to get me to rent the prison cell said, "I don't know what your price range is, but if you're willing to be flexible--and pay more than this place costs--I could show you something else that's grrrreat."
I said, "Me coming to see a place that costs this much? Yeah, that was me being flexible."
You don't want to go broke paying for an apartment--or paying for a relationship. You don't want to date a diva whose demands would send you into debt, You don't want to get into a relationship with a guy who likes to go out to dinner every night--dutch--if you just don't have the extra dough to throw around.
6) NEGOTIATING IS GOOD
If you're spending too much on love, don't just dump the person you're with--speak up, and see if you can come to a reasonable agreement about how to go forward. And with an apartment, even if you love it, it NEVER hurts to ask if the landlord might be willing to go down a little on rent, or be flexible about your move-in date, or whatever. You never know what you can get just by suffering through the momentary discomfort of asking.
... AND THEN THERE'S THE INTERNET PORN.
I look at the real estate ads obsessively. The dating sites--and all those pictures of single men? They got nothing on CraigsList housing section!
Did I find a new apartment? Stay tuned ...
today's post is SOOO long that i won't say much here. but i'm glad you're all gonna revolt with me (or most of you anyway). but JEN? I love love love Charlottesville. It's a gorgeous college town. Please be sure to find the tapas restaurant MAS and go there. You might even see my old pals, Jim and Andrew, who are regulars over there. The other place I love is the Asian tapas place in an old unmarked Victorian house just behind the pedestrian mall ...
*Though I love my current apartment, I live about as far out in Brooklyn as you can get, and I have to bike or drive for a good ten minutes to get anywhere--even the gym!
**Pre-war because those old buildings are so sturdy that you don't hear your neighbors as much. Top floor so I would hear anyone walking around above me when I'm trying to get to sleep (or stay that way). Brownstone because they're cute and smaller--which means fewer potentially annoying building-mates.