I went in to speak to my landlord today to re-sign my lease.
My two roommates and I moved into our apartment a year ago, while I was still a student with little to no income, and paying thousands in tuition, fees, and textbooks.
As she shuffled through my papers, a confused expression came upon her as she made an exaggerated squinting face to get a closer look. She looked at me, then looked back down.
“You know,” she started. “I could very easily qualify you for a place that’s three times as much. I could do the paperwork right now”
This wasn’t a conversation I was expecting to have as I was on my way to work, so I just smiled politely and told her that I was fine with this apartment.
“Are you sure?” She continued. “We manage a lot of buildings. I could show you plenty of listings. Don’t you want to live alone, or in a hipper neighborhood, or in a bigger…”
I was starting to tune out. Having lived in New York for a few years now, I didn’t need to see her listings because I’d visited enough friends and been to enough house parties to see what tripling my rent could get me. Stretching my budget to that price range — whether for rent or a mortgage — could indeed give me my own space. It could plop me right into the hippest part of the Village or Williamsburg, or stick me in a modern glass-walled high-rise, complete with doorman, stainless steel appliances, and lots of amenities I might never use but that it would be nice to know are there. It could put me in a loft that would be considered huge even by non-New York standards. And if I really wanted to, it could get me a lawn; yes, New York has neighborhoods with lawns!
I can’t say that the thought has never crossed my mind. After all, moving into bigger space, further away from neighbors — particularly if it means taking on a mortgage — is the American dream, isn’t it? Lots of these apartments, condos, and houses, would have plenty of things that I would want.
But would I really need them? My apartment is in a fine neighborhood, I’m a reasonable distance from work, and I actually like that the smallish space is both easy to clean and all but forces me away from accumulating stuff that would just clutter the place. Moreover, the fact that I haven’t inflated my lifestyle by moving to a fancier place has played a huge part in helping me to send tens of thousands of dollars toward paying down my student loan debt and starting a retirement account.
I snapped back to the present and felt the heavy weight of silence upon me; she was waiting for a response.
I again told her I was happy with where I lived, but thanked her for thinking of me.
“No problem,” she replied. “I don’t want to put you in a spot where you’re spending more than you have to. I just have never seen this before. We’re more likely to have people try to get us to approve them for more than they can afford, than do what you’re doing.”
I signed the lease and got started on my day.
Then, of course, I blogged about it. Did I make the right decision? She actually sounded very sincere, but do you think she was trying to up-sell me? What would you do?