Every year, I have the same dilemma: should I move or stay? It’s a hard decision to make because I have to make it at a point in the year when I dislike my apartment the most. For about 4 months each year, my apartment is frustratingly noisy because I have to keep the windows open and I live on a major city artery. Near the end of those 4 months, I have to decide if I will stay.
This year, I thought that the decision was easy: they’d only increased my rent by $20/month and my lease ends just days after returning home from a big vacation (Paris!). It just made sense to renew my lease.
Oh, but then I’m so full of regret. You see, I spent the past year or so working on getting rid of the things I don’t need or want (remember, I was a poor student when I first moved out west, so I acquired a lot of hand-me-downs and it-will-dos), planning how to make my space work for me, and buying the odds and ends of things that I needed. After all that effort, I’ve realized that I really do want to live in a smaller space.
I love small spaces. I have two Pinterest boards dedicated to small spaces and one of my favourite blogs has a series dedicated to living in a small apartment. I love the simplicity of a small space, how cozy it can feel and how easy it is to keep clean (assuming you live somewhat minimally or are very organized). Almost every piece of furniture or household item I’ve purchased in the past few years had to meet my “would I be able to use it in a small space” criteria.
And, yet, here I am stuck in my big apartment. It’s nice, but it’s also 650 square feet and about 50-75 of those square feet is wasted in hallways. My living room has an empty space large enough for a dining table or sofa. My bedroom seems oddly disproportionate simply because it’s so damned big and so damned empty. The apartment would be perfect for a couple, someone who wanted an office in their bedroom, or even just someone with large furniture. For me, it’s just weird.
So, what am I to do? I think I have few options:
1. Suck it up for another year and then move.
This is the default option. Certainly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world and I would have lots of time to think about where I’d like to move and to start looking at options. It would also give me time to think about and prepare for what I might need to transition to a smaller space (not much, I think, but there may be some habits I’ll need to reconsider and I’d probably want to exchange my short shelves for taller ones, to maximize my vertical storage).
2. Stay and invest in finding solutions that will help my place look a bit more cozy without acquiring much (if any) more stuff.
Despite the noise in the summer (which I have gotten much better at dealing with), this might make the most sense. Once you factor in paying for movers, boxes, incidentals (meals out, etc.), and replacing some furniture to better serve a smaller space, moving can be quite expensive. It’s also a pain in the butt to move and there are no guarantees that you’ll like the new place.
With a much smaller investment, I could probably make my current place work a bit better for my needs. For example, I could hire an interior designer to help me come up with some ideas. Maybe I need to rethink how I’ve organized my space. Maybe I need to consider adding a bit of easy-to-cover colour (pale shades; I’m allowed to paint, as long as I make everything white before I leave) or removable wall paper.
I can also consider how I can work towards being ready for a small space. For example, I recently decided that my sofa is all wrong. While I could replace it with a nicer sofa or get a slip cover, it’s not something that I would want to bring to a small space (space will be at a premium and having my sewing table is more important than having a sofa). The best option might be to get daybed that could be used as my primary bed/seating in a smaller space.
Lastly, I can continue to work on finding the best solutions for my apartment. For example, one of the things that has really annoyed me this year is that I recently put up some beautiful sheers, but they look silly with the sun blocking panels I put up for the summer (in some cases, the panels are grey on the inside, which shows through the sheers – it looks awful). It might be better if I could find some cheerful but less sheer curtains or sheets to use in the summer. This would, if nothing else, help me to remember to wash my curtains once or twice a year.
All of these options would allow me to stay in one place and save money in the long run. I wouldn’t have to worry about moving, unpacking, getting used to a new neighbourhood, adjusting to a new apartment building and it’s management, etc.
3. Transfer into a smaller apartment in my building after I’ve returned from vacation and had a chance to get organized.
I’m pretty sure this would be a bad idea. The bachelor apartments in my building are nice, but not great. They’re also really hot, right over the dumpsters, next to the elevators, and just a tad smaller than what I need (considering their layout). I don’t want to move to a smaller space just for the sake of moving to a smaller space. I’d like to find something that’s nicer: in a quieter neighbourhood, with a balcony, or even just quite a bit cheaper.
Now that I’ve put more thought into my options and written about them, I almost wonder if my regret should actually be that I didn’t ask for a longer termed lease. Yes, I do want to move to a quieter neighborhood and yes I do want to move to a smaller space, but it seems that I prefer the idea of taking my time. I feel like it would be worth my while to put more thought into what I might need to do to make my space a bit more cozy so that I can stick around for a bit longer. Who knows, maybe it will help give me the boost I need to really get cracking at saving to buy a place, so maybe that dreamy small space in a quiet neighbourhood will turn out to be a wee little condo.