2016 is a Leap Year and with that, I am leaping into the future! On this most fantastic of leaping days, I have -- finally -- moved into my own place.
After my first six weeks back in the city crashing on a mattress in my wonderful friends’ living room, I have progressed to actually unpacking my suitcase, hanging up my clothes and sleeping in a bed that is not on ground level. My books are on shelves, my underwear is divided thematically among several small drawers, my cosmetic arsenal is lined up according to color.
On Sunday I packed up my troubles in an old kit bag (two suitcases, four Ikea bags) and smiled my way from Bushwick to Crown Heights in a van, eagerly Snapchatting the entire experience for my (presumably) adoring fans. I hauled luggage up and down the necessary flights of stairs, sweating uncontrollably through the hottest day of the year thus far, and achieved a big gold star on my adult chart by successfully moving house alone.
I’ve lived away from home since I was 18. For the first four years of college I had the luxury of parental contribution to my rent (AKA paying for it entirely) before being thrust into the real world with an extremely useful degree in my first language and a job serving breakfast in a hotel with the horrific news that I was suddenly going to be paying my own rent.
Back in 2012, Dublin rents weren’t the sky-high maniac prices that they are today, rivaling London and New York in their monstrously extortionate cost and criminally small space. I found myself living in a cute, bitesize apartment in the heart of Dublin City -- otherwise known as tourist hell-hole extraordinaire, Temple Bar -- for an affordable €1000 per month. Split down the middle as a two-bed, €500 was pretty cheap considering the location, and as I was making about €350 per week in the hotel, it was relatively doable.
When I moved out the following year, embarking on my journey to New York, that same apartment was being rented for €1,400 per month. Two pals of mine were hoping to inherit the place, but once they realized how much liberty the landlord had taken, they backed away.
Landlords across the city were shamelessly doing the same. And why not? It was a renter’s market. Time to make some cash back on these property investments they had made back in the boom days.
After my year of 2015 spent living in my parents’ apartment in Malahide, I quickly reacclimatized to the joy of not paying rent. I bought nice clothes and expensive face creams, I picked up high quality ingredients at local organic markets to cook lavish meals that I would wash down with top-shelf bottles of wine. With all that extra cash lying around that would usually be put in the rent crematorium and burned to death, I was flush, “making it rain,” effectively, a “baller.”
Flash forward a mere two months and oh, how the mighty have fallen. Back in the filthy grasps of RENT, I am crippled.
As joyous as moving day was, it came with a hefty price. Handing over rent and a deposit meant emptying my bank account and facing into a two week reliance on the $100 remaining in my wallet.
Plus sides: I have my own space, I will become extremely thin and model-like due to my inability to afford food, and I will gain newfound appreciation for the true value of money.
Down sides: I have no money, I have no food, I hate everything.
I know I deserve no sympathy because I am not actually a poor person, and surviving for a few weeks on oats and rice because I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and chance my arm at two internships in the most expensive city on earth won’t kill me. I’m tough, I can handle it.
I knew exactly what I was getting into, and so I can laugh at the situation and willingly accept when a friend offers to buy me lunch/dinner/soap - HINTING TO ALL FRIENDS CURRENTLY READING.
I’m aware that this is temporary and if I wanted to skip out on my internships and go get a well-paid 9-5 tomorrow, I could, so I can get on with this little blip on the financial radar safe in the comforting knowledge that it is no more than that -- a blip -- and that I always have friends and family to fall back on should things really become so dire that I no longer find it that funny.
However, all of this has made me realize that rent is a complete and utter joke. Every year, we all willingly spend an average minimum of $12,000 for a room that we don’t even technically own. We’re just burning it to reside in a home, not investing it in a home that we are building for a future of any description.
My parents’ generation were pumping this money into actual houses in which they would build furniture and paint walls and raise a family. We can’t even stick up a poster without having to check with the landlord if it’s okay, and then being told no because the paint might chip.
This is the reality of our generation. We work around the clock to make money that serves only to keep us housed on a temporary basis. Each passing hour you work, each dollar you earn gets you another portion of time in your rented room. Money well spent?
As happy as I am now to have my own place, my adult mind has been engaged and I’m already starting to think about what kind of house I would like to OWN in Ireland. What kind of money seeds would I like to sew, what kind of roots would I like to set down so that later in life, I can comfortably settle down.
When you’re not ready to spend a fixed amount of time in one fixed place, how much time and money are you willing to spend on rent?