I hope you're not getting bored indulging my trips down memory lane. I have to say that this exercise has been very good for me. Remembering the good things about the places I've called home, imperfect as many of them were, helps put into perspective how cherished my current home is to me. For one main reason: It's mine. It may not be much, and yes, we overpaid on it. But I couldn't go back to renting again, and I won't give up our little condo until we are able to make the leap into single-family-homeownership.
There are only two more places I lived before the condo. Both were with my husband, and both were rental apartments.
We decided to live together while riding the city bus to school together our senior year in college. I think I actually asked him. I'd been looking at apartments in the suburb that I was working in. I had gotten an internship at a publishing company my junior year, and then they asked me back for winter break my senior year and I never left. So I basically already knew where I would start my career after college long in advance of graduation (which was really, really nice). Anyway, the rents in that suburb and surrounding areas weren't terrible, but weren't exactly financially feasible for a single person. And there was no way I was getting roommates again. Things with the boyfriend were going very well. We'd stayed together happily all through college, and I was pretty sure that marriage wasn't far into the future. I asked him to be my roomie, and he accepted. We spent a couple months plotting where to live and visiting apartments together, which was fun.
We found the place we chose by putting in all our wish list requirements into a rental website and seeing what came up. We wanted a place that took cats, had two bedrooms, AC, a dishwasher, a deck or patio, a swimming pool, and a washer and dryer in the unit. It may have only been this apartment complex that matched all those criteria in our price range. It was a little far out, but only a 10 minute drive from my work. We signed a lease and moved in June of 2002.
We lived in this apartment for two years. It had a lot of things going for it: it was spacious, very neutral, and the master bedroom was huge. It had a walk in closet, on suite bathroom and a nice view of a little pond. There was a great big laundry room. And a dishwasher! Oh man, how I loved having a dishwasher. My boyfriend-now-husband proved to be a great roommate. Sure, there were squabbles as we tried to figure out the division of labor and the ups and downs of cohabitation, but living together really solidified our relationship. I don't think I'd ever been happier. We got a little kitten that we named Nutmeg, and she was a wild one. We had a ton of parties - a dinner party for new year's eve where I cooked lasagna for 20 people and sat them at two different tables with mismatched plates. A Halloween party where we actually had a neighbor come and talk to us about the noise and people danced (danced!) in our living room. And my 23rd birthday party where we announced our engagement. We planned most of our wedding living in this apartment, and decided for some reason to add moving to the already stressful time of wedding planning and moved out in the summer of '04.
While we actually liked the suburb we lived in - it was very walkable and we lived right by a restaurant, movie theater, book store and Target - we were soo far from everything else. If we wanted to go into the city to see a play, half an hour. To go to a concert, half an hour. Visit friends, half an hour. Add that to the fact that Matt had gotten a new job that was a horrendous commute, we decided to find an apartment in the city.
We'd also grown tired of some aspects of the apartment. The management company was super intrusive. We'd lived there two years and gone through about four of five "annual inspections." The inspections were meant to uncover maintenance issues before they started, but all that had ever happened was we got a written warning about having a wind chime on our deck. The kitchen was growing smaller as I learned how to cook better, and I hated our kitchen counters, which soaked up every stain and were impossible to keep clean. And I really wanted a second cat, which our apartment didn't allow. So we decided to move on.
But every once in awhile we make a special trip down to this suburb, and I always feel very at home there. It's where we started our life together, and where we became official, bill-paying, job-having adults.