**Updated June 2017**
Da na na na na na na na…
I have been grappling with a major decision since the start of
this last year – Keep my place and live here, sell it, or rent it out. What it all comes down to is exactly that – Should I stay or should I go??
A little background – I have lived in this building on and off for the past 11 years. I have lived in 4 of the units…3 of which I owned. I lost 2 in the market crash (as gruesome as it sounds), rented another for a year, and eventually bought the one I’m currently residing in with cash further assuring myself the bank couldn’t take this home away from me. What I couldn’t assure in this transaction was the crazy of my neighbors, neighborhood, and this city as a whole.
I’m not sure if you’ve seen my great city spoken about in the news lately (don’t all you FI peeps avoid TV?), but Chicago is in a bit of a slump…a happiness slump. Wop wop. Our violent crimes are out of control and apparently, as the 3rd largest city in the states, our city is causing the overall national crime rate to rise. Come on, Chicago! Get your shit together!!
Regardless of all the hoopla (and gunfire), this is my city. I was born here. I was raised here. I have roots here. But things have changed. Remember the movie Little Shop of Horrors? Yup…those Chicago roots that I’ve nurtured since childhood have grown into a tangled mess around my neck and are slowly suffocating me – particularly the roots surrounding my neighborhood and condo.
It all started with the dog. It seems in her advanced age that walking up 3 flights of stairs isn’t her cup of tea. Me walking her before work at 3:30 am isn’t mine….but we’ve managed.
Next, it was the BF. J lives in the burbs and I live in the city…this makes us geographically undesirable to one another. Still, we made it work. I spent much of my time driving to his place (the flexibility of my job is ideal) and when I couldn’t he would drive 1.5 through traffic from his work to my place…not a fun commute to see his little lady. Sometime last winter we got busted by his dog-hating apartment complex for bringing Bubs, prompting J to continue the 1.5 hour drive to and from work several times a week. Thankfully, this July he moved into a new dog friendly apartment…with a yard…and free laundry!!
Needless to say, we have been spending a majority of our time at the new digs. But, not all of our time. When J’s kids come over (he has joint custody) I head back to the city, Bubs in tow, and fiddle around my house for the night then head back to the burbs (I pretty much live there now, though all my belongings are still in the city). If I’m not going back and forth there, I am at work flying to and fro. The whole thing has gotten me so turned around I don’t really know where I belong anymore. Similar to the chick looking for its mother, I am constantly walking around asking “Is this my home??”.
Which brings me to my last point. The building I live in. I love it. I’ve loved it since the first day I walked into the grand marble entryway (apparently the 2nd largest in the country at the time it was built around 1912). But things here have changed.
The area is no longer as safe as it once was. We have a gang war happening just a few blocks North of ours. There have been shootings in front of the school across the street. Homeless camps are set up under the viaducts off LSD. My car was stolen from across the street and was missing for 3 months before being recovered. And, the more recent discovery, I have a crazy neighbor directly across from my window who has taken to throwing ashtrays through my windows and waving machetes at passersby on the street. When you don’t feel safe in your own home, the walls tend to close in very quickly.
Those are the downsides, and believe me, I know they could be waaaay worse. I have a roof over my head, running water I can make hot or cold, a fridge (sometimes I even have food in it!), AC, cable/internet, and 8 coin operated washers and dryers at my disposal. I am not complaining (well, maybe a little), I am just making the pros and cons bullet points so we can figure this out. So, let’s compare them to the upsides…
My place in the city is cute and quiet. It is walking distance to the lake, bike path, grocery stores (even Aldi!), Target, restaurants, bars, public transportation. The location (minus the proximity to gangs) is ideal. Shit, the street parking isn’t even permit! The best part about it?? My place is DIRT CHEAP!
I pay $266.36/month for taxes, assessments, and insurance. I bought my unit in cash October 2014 for 65K. Yes, it was a steal…but one I’ve paid generously for in past transactions (more on that disastrous adventure HERE). Question is does the tiny price tag make up the sacrifice of being a prisoner in my own home…or the fact that I only use it on average 5-6 (more like 1) days a month?
So back to the original question. Should I stay or should I go. If I go there will be trouble and if I stay it will be double… Here are my options:
1. If I sell, I’ll have to rent/buy somewhere else (most likely the burbs) causing my cost of living to sky rocket…goodbye 75% savings rate!! Units are currently selling for 90k. Also, I’m paying rent with my BF now so my savings rate has dropped though not as much if I was living on my own. In a living arrangement such as mine (did I mention I live with 2 teenage boys??), I kind of like the idea of keeping my place as a fallback just in case…
2. If I stay,
I can continue my cheap city hermit lifestyle…and possibly be shot while walking the dog or killed by a machete in my own hallway. This option took care of itself due to the above, however, if something changed between my BF and I would I want to move back to this apartment? I still have Bubs who is not fond of the stairs and probably moreso now that she is older. Also, in my advancing age 😉 , I am not a fan of the 5 month winters and brutally hot summers. I would prefer a milder climate where I could be more active plus it’s helpful that I have quite a few friends in other climate friendly SWA bases that would love for me to grace them with my presence. So the answer to #2 is a no – I wouldn’t move back into this unit. Staying is not an option.
3. Last but not least, RENT MY PLACE OUT and create a new stream of income. I have been a landlord before so that part doesn’t bother me. I can easily rent my place for $800 on the low-end which would equal a monthly surplus of $500+…yum!
Two caveats to renting:
- I am currently #4 on the the wait list (now #2!).
ThreeOne rental unit has to sell before I can rent mine out…that may take some time.
- The moral dilemma of putting someone in my unit when I myself am afraid to live here. I guess that is relative to wherever my new tenant would have lived before…but still something to think about. (It has been months without an incident within the building minus a storage unit robbery but summer usually brings an uptick in gang activity so fingers crossed they have settled their war.)
So we are down to 2 options… Should I Sell or Rent?? I aim steering towards renting it out. I truly love my unit and the area. I have high hopes the gangs will eventually get priced out of the area which would make it more safe plus we all know Bubs won’t live forever (please don’t tell her I ever said that!!). This would be a lovely place to keep as my home in the city since my family is all here… but the fucking weather!! I suppose global warming might take care of that in due time as well. Ugh…
Of course, I could do nothing (as I’ve been doing since the beginning of the last year) and wait to see what happens with the neighbor, rental list, and sales prices in the area. Shit! I just talked myself right back to where we started…
** What would you do?? Have you been in a similar situation? I could definitely use a bit of counseling… If you have any suggestions feel free to email me or shoot me (not literally, please) a comment in the box below. 🙂 **
Until next time…