Rent or not rent? Decisions, decisions.
July 19, 2012 9:50 PM   Subscribe

How to move past my uncertainties and come to a decision, and fast?

I'm at an impasse at this point. I'm still living with the same roommates from my previous posts; we've been able to maintain a (mostly) amiable relationship after what happened, with a few bumps. Zee is moving to a house a bit out of the way, offered me a room, but I'm not going. I really feel it's the best for us that I cut our roommate relationship off when we move out in August, and move forward.

I was offered an open-space basement 'living' room by a friend of mine at a house close to where I'm living; very convenient to a bus stop I frequent. This house is modern, very nice and clean, and has the latest conveniences - laundry, AC, you name it. The problem? I'll be sharing an open spaced basement 'living room' with another guy who I don't know well, and there will be no privacy. I won't get a proper room to myself. That's what is holding me back, as well as the head of the house's insistence that subletting is expressly forbidden and not permitted; no expectations. The lease will be for a year. I am a very private person, and sharing a living room with someone is definitely giving me major pause. I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Complication: the guys living in that house (six in total, including me if I do move there) are mostly my friends, guys I've known from school. I want to live with them, but the guy living in the basement with me is not a guy I know too well, nor is he well-liked by some of my other friends.

I'm at an impossible point to make a decision, because on one hand the house is really nice, clean, modern, airy, you name it. It's $500 (I managed to negotiate down to $475). It's convenient to the bus stop. On the other hand, $475 is a bit steep, especially for an open-space basement living room. I can always add a Chinese wall (they don't want curtains tacked to the wall), but it still won't be the same, especially with another roommate walking past me from his room in the basement. I can't wrap my head around living like that for a whole year, let alone not being able to sublet. I'm kind of a 'free spirit', and $475 seems so steep. ON THE OTHER HAND (again!), it's a very nice house, and I love the atmosphere there. Decisions, decisions! I'm a naturally indecisive person (one of my major flaws), so that only adds to the difficulty I'm experiencing.

I'm not asking the Green to make the decision for me. I'm just really unsure how to proceed and make a decision. They want to know NOW, as in last night, but I managed to buy a bit more time. I'm really torn, and I don't know if I'm being overly unreasonable or stubborn or picky, or if my thoughts are valid. I'm lucky they took the rent down by $25, but it's still a bit steep in my mind... however time is running out and I'm having no luck finding another place! Hence, my dilemma.
posted by dubious_dude to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have a conversation with your friends, let them know how you think and call the dude out if he really is a jerk, all will be discussed. If its hearsay, then well you gotta give the guy a chance. Your friends will provide valuable input, wisdom of the crowd etc, your friends, right??? At least you'll get the time to think and get some more input. Maybe everyone thinks he's a jerk. Get a hot chick to replace him...

I should have just led with that last and called it a day!
posted by sfts2 at 10:09 PM on July 19, 2012

If you already have so many reservations about sharing a living room with someone, don't commit to it. I think you're doubting it so much because you know you'd be sacrificing a hell of a lot for very little.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:18 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's the other half of this decision? Keep looking? Zee's room offer? Couch-surfing?

How I make decisions like this:
I try to figure out, independent of what's actually being offered, what I would be willing to deal with. Not ideal world stuff, but what is acceptable. So if you'd be willing to do a year's lease in the house if you roomed with someone else, offer that. Only if you can install a temporary wall or two, offer that. Only if the rent is $425, offer that. Only if there's a behavior clause in the lease if you hate the roomie... etc. If once you figure out what you need you realize it's already being offered, well, decision done. You take it.

So if you figure out what you need and it's not yet what is being offered, you tell them the difference. Then, and this is important, you make it clear this is not a negotiation. These are your requirements. This is why you have to figure out the bare minimum first - because if your true bare minimum is a fruit basket a day, and they counter with one apple... well, no waffling, no indecision - you're off to the next.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:21 PM on July 19, 2012

Response by poster: Not intended to threadsit, but DoubleLune, can you explain what your perspective on me sacrificing a hell of a lot for very little means?
posted by dubious_dude at 10:22 PM on July 19, 2012

Unless you are desperate - and I know you've said you're not having any luck finding somewhere else, but I can't tell whether you've been actively looking at other options - this would be a crap deal for you. You should probably look somewhere else.
posted by heyjude at 10:33 PM on July 19, 2012

your home is supposed to be a place where you can relax and chill out. if you can't come home and do that—which it doesn't sound like you can in this "open living room situation" (and really, who could??)—then don't live there. it will suck, and you will have no place to escape to because, um, your home is supposed to be the place to which you escape.
posted by violetk at 10:45 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Your friends don't like this guy. Your friends want you to agree to live in a shared room with this guy they don't like for a year, with no out if it goes badly. Never mind all of that, though...

Are you sure you want to live with these friends?
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:08 PM on July 19, 2012

Response by poster: Sorry, I wasn't clear on that specific part of the friends not liking him. To clarify, I was talking about outside friends (separate from the friends living at the house) who didn't like this guy. The friends who live at that house has no problem with him.

I've been actively searching/contacting people with little luck. I'm getting desperate, but I honestly feel my minimum requirement is to at least have a clause permitting me to sublet because I'm considering a job transfer.

To answer another question upthread, the second half of my decision is to take Zee's offer. I really would rather not. He's going to live in an out-of-the-way area in DC, further away from the Metro and bus stops (he has a car), and based on our history, it's really best if we just wrap this up. The house had a few big rat traps (*shudders*), was generally old and run down, so no way. Maybe as an absolute last resort, but I really would rather not. Searching more? It's really stressful, and my job has differing shifts (I work in retail)... the new house I'm unsure about is really nice and modern (where I currently live at does not have AC or laundry), has the latest amenities, etc. It's only the part of the open-spaced arrangement and the lack of permissive subleasing/subletting that is holding me back, really, but unfortunately, those are major considerations. Grrr, it's so frustrating finding a nice place, only to always have a catch/tradeoff.

I really feel like I'm in a pickle.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:14 PM on July 19, 2012

The open space basement living room sounds like a truly horrific option. There is no privacy or ability to truly escape anyone else in the house unless you leave the place you are paying to live. To most people that would be unacceptable unless cohabitating with a romantic partner, and you sound like you already have hesitations about the arrangement. When it comes to our home, our one true sanctuary, generally following our own instincts makes the most sense and pays off big time in the long run. Zee doesn't sound like a good option, either. I would suggest finding temporary housing for a month or two to buy you some time and find a better living arrangement because neither of these sounds like a good fit.
posted by katemcd at 11:44 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: The worst part is, they have around 6 other interested guys, so I have to make the decision NOW. I don't want to give up such a luxurious living condition... I'm afraid I'll regret it but at the same time reservations are definitely a hindrance!
posted by dubious_dude at 11:44 PM on July 19, 2012

I honestly feel my minimum requirement is to at least have a clause permitting me to sublet

Then that's what you say, now, so you aren't wasting their and your own time: "Friends, I would really love to live with you. But because I may have a job transfer coming up, I would need to be allowed to sublet to take the spot. [Anything you can say to make subletting more attractive goes here like allowing veto options, etc.] Would that be acceptable to the house, or do I need to buckle down and keep looking? If it is acceptable, I'm ready to sign a lease this moment."
posted by vegartanipla at 12:05 AM on July 20, 2012

Response by poster: vegartanipla - they already said absolutely no expectations for subletting/subleasing. I can try and bring the veto option up, but if they have 6 other applicants, it's likely they'll just view me as a 'challenge' and move on to the next applicant who would be more willing to pay the $500 and put up with the open air space.
posted by dubious_dude at 12:26 AM on July 20, 2012

I would not take this deal. Too steep, no privacy, no subletting. My answer would be no.
Keep looking.
posted by seawallrunner at 12:29 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you still looking in for roommates exclusively in the deaf community? If you widen your criteria, you will have exponentially more options. I don't know how you feel about it, but there are tonnes of hearing people who would be totally fine with living with a deaf person and would probably make any accomodations you need.

To be honest, this sounds like more drama as per your previous questions. Either you are okay with sharing a room, or you are not. Don't try and reduce it to a false dichotomy where it's this place, or Zee's. Those are not your only choices; they are merely your only easy choices.

Furthermore, if everyone else in the house is okay with this guy, why are you listening to what randoms who don't know him as well as his housemates say? If you're not sure about him, get to know him better.

For me, sharing a room would be a dealbreaker 100%, but it might not be for you. Either way, I think you really need to break yourself out of this real narrow-minded, limited-options thinking. Bring some more creativity to these problems, and for reals, can't you hang out with some people that are just a bit more chilled out or something? It just sounds so... exhausting, all this drama.
posted by smoke at 2:38 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

No way would I pay $500/month to live in an open space with a stranger. There have GOT to be other options. You need to keep looking.
posted by sundaydriver at 2:41 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just to add-if you really can't find anywhere else, either get them to knock the rent way down (and save the extra for hotels for when you need a break/privacy), or offer to pay a bit more to have the place to yourself. The former is the only thing that would make that situation bearable, imo.

Curious--do the other housemates share rooms with one another? How much are they paying for shared or private rooms? (In other words, is it at all possible they are taking advantage of you?)
posted by sundaydriver at 2:47 AM on July 20, 2012

If Zee isn't a real option (and it sounds like he shouldn't be) then you're trying to choose between the crappy basement situation and... nothing. What you need is one or more viable alternatives to the basement. A more productive question to ask would probably be, "on a budget of $X including utilities, what's the best apartment / living situation I can reasonably hope to find with, in order of importance, a, b and c attributes, close to such and such a location? How can I quickly find such a place?"

You're in a big city. There are definitely other options.
posted by jon1270 at 3:54 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

can you explain what your perspective on me sacrificing a hell of a lot for very little means?

Convenient to bus stop.
(Mostly) people you know and like.
Modern house.
Wouldn't have to keep looking.

No privacy.
Don't know if you would get along with the guy you'd be sharing a room with.
No privacy when you explicitly say this is important to you.
Not allowed to sublet.
Stuck with it for a year if you don't like it.
Expensive for a shared room.

It sounds like the cons add up to a dealbreaker -- like maybe it would be okay if you were friends with him, or if it was half the price, or if you could sublet -- but combined it's a bad situation.

Keep looking -- I understand how frustrating it can be to apartment hunt, but there are so many options out there, I'm sure you could find something better.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:51 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Keep looking.

You need a month-to-month situation. This is because you may get a job transfer, but also because you may want to bail on a situation that doesn't work out.

I know DC is expensive, but I'd rather live in a squat studio in a sketchy neighborhood, by myself, than having a butt-load of roommates who are all up in my kool-ade.

(Case in point, I had a studio in Oakland, CA. I politely asked the crack dealers to move around the corner when they were hanging out in our vesitbule.)

Explore suburban, apartment complex options a bit out of town, but convenient to transit lines.

See if there are other flat-mate situations that might appeal.

Have a plan for a temporary crash if your search exceeds your current drop=dead date for being out of your current situation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:18 AM on July 20, 2012

I suspect this is one of those questions that you can only answer yourself.

But a good place to start would be thinking about the lack of privacy, which is the biggest problem.

-How much privacy do you require? Do you mind the interruption of someone passing through your space?
-this guy you'll be sharing with- what do you know about him? What's his schedule like? Is he going to be around a lot, or out more than in?
-how late does he usually stay up? What about you? Are you a light sleeper or a heavy one?
-how much does noise bother you? How loud is this guy? Does he blast music/tv?

And lastly, keep in mind that simply that something you can tolerate for a month can drive you crazy later. If you still have any reservations after thinking about it- find another place. Yeah, it can suck to have something so close to fitting your criteria, but in the long run often other things- like farther away from the bus stop- are easier to get use to than lack of privacy.
posted by Aliera at 7:27 AM on July 20, 2012

Best answer: This is my fear: You turn down this offer, fail to turn up anything better (this is DC we're talking about, and your requirements will be more costly than you think) and end up moving with Zee. Based on your prior questions, that just seems so bad. Also based on your prior questions, and the fact that you have waited until Zee is moving out to to even get to this point instead of proactively seeking better options for yourself all along the way, I think you are unlikely to be able to scrounge something better up for yourself on short notice.

A decent room with a clause built in to permit subletting with decent roommates in a transit-accessible neighborhood in DC...if $475 feels expensive to you, I don't know, it seems unlikely.

This is what I think: Take the sublet. Best case scenario, it goes better than you fear and you're content. It doesn't need to be your dream situation, it just needs to be better than what you have now/would have with Zee. Worst case scenario, you find something better and break your lease. Dealing with the social and economic consequences of breaking that lease will be easier because you'll at least know you have something better waiting.

Seriously, this could not be as bad as you think, a year is just a year, can it really be worse than the living with Zee, and if it's really intolerable and/or you find something better, you can cut loose early and pay the consequences.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:16 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a difficult decision to make. I would recommend not moving into this new place or living with Zee. Surely there have to be other options? Have you checked the Kijiji ads and looked for studio apartments or the roommate wanted section of the site?

Have you thought about asking around to see if anyone knows of someone that's looking to move into a new place? I mean, if you could find a two bedroom apartment even then that would give you the privacy that you want without an insanely high rent.

The problem that I can think of right off the bat with this new place is that you can't change your mind. You can't sublet, so if you can't accept the living arrangements then you are stuck either a) living there and being unhappy or b) paying rent for two places.
posted by livinglearning at 9:26 AM on July 20, 2012

vegartanipla - they already said absolutely no expectations for subletting/subleasing. I can try and bring the veto option up, but if they have 6 other applicants, it's likely they'll just view me as a 'challenge' and move on to the next applicant who would be more willing to pay the $500 and put up with the open air space.

Yes, they said no already to your minimum requirement. You just need to come back to them and make it clear that this is, in fact, your minimum requirement and if their no is firm you won't be able to take the space.

You are right that it seems like another person would be a better fit if they'll pay more and not need a sublet clause; you can try to make yourself into the best candidate despite needing a sublet clause by offering to pay more for the right to insert the clause or whatever else you think would work. But if they're still firm on the no, you tell them you're sorry and then keep looking.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:33 PM on July 20, 2012

I hate to say it, and you probably know this but 475 dollars is incredibly low rent for DC. This is not an argument in favor of taking the room, mind you--an open shared basement sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. But you're gonna have to be pro-active and pump every social network you can think of if you want to find something comparably low. I swear, all the cheap rooms in DC change hands between the same 100some 20somethings. When my ex-boyfriend and his housemates decided not to renew their lease last fall, all of them found their way into new cheap group houses with friends that were totally unadvertised on craigslist or the like. Contrast that with my experience, where it took me four months to find permanent housing after moving to the area knowing no almost one. Have you posted to facebook yet saying you're looking for housing? Posted your own craigslist ad? Asked friends, co-workers, mentors, anybody you can think of? That seems to be how DC goes.

If you do keep looking on craigslist, however, I'd encourage you to be open-minded about options east of the Anacostia river. Don't believe the hype about how unsafe it is; yeah crime rates are higher, but you'll avoid the worst of it so long as you're not involved in gang or drug activity, and the rent is definitely lower. Just be careful about transit accessibility there, since there are large swaths out that way with very poor metro access. (Those are mostly the same swaths that have poor access to groceries too, so bear that in mind.) I lived around Congress Heights metro during my DC time, and that's one of the only ways I managed to afford DC as long as I did.
posted by ActionPopulated at 3:19 PM on July 20, 2012

Response by poster: Hey, all. An update. I decided to go ahead with the $475 offer. Here's why - originally, when they said absolutely no subletting/subleasing permitted, I was ready to completely rescind the offer. I was prepared to just find another place. However, they offered a month by month lease, asking me to offer a price. I offered $550, which I perceived as perfect for temporary housing ($550 I can afford for a few months, and it's better than being stuck for a whole year), and if I really liked it, to continue as a permanent tenant until next year, and if I didn't like it, buh-bye.

However, when I met them in person, it turned out there was a misunderstanding on text for some reason about the subletting/subleasing situation. One of the co-landlords said subletting/subleasing was explicitly permitted, as long as all roommates approved of the new roommate. They brought my rent back down to $475. I looked through Craigslist (all offers were $700+), considered my options, decided I was no longer up to the stress of finding a place, and due to a recent raise at work, decided to just bite on the $475. A friend offered I get Chinese curtains, and I'm also looking into other solutions for the privacy angle. Any ideas would be much appreciated. If I don't like, I can find a sublet, biting the bullet for a month or so if necessary.

It's not the end of the world, and some may perceive this as the easy way out. But, hey, $475 isn't bad, especially for a very nicely refurbished house, and a year's not exactly too long. It was worth the higher price, especially for peace of mind, and I was growing frustrated at the lack of responses of those interested in roommates on Facebook, so I just decided this was a better option. Subletting is possible, which was originally a dealbreaker for me.

Thanks for all the insight.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:28 PM on July 20, 2012

Response by poster: Also, forgot to add, but it's definitely high time I wrapped things up with Zee and moved on after this month. He really hurt me at the core, and I really don't feel fully comfortable around him, so it's a good thing for me to move forward.
posted by dubious_dude at 11:43 PM on July 20, 2012

Glad to hear it's working out and you got your minimum requirement met. Like I mentioned earlier, you can build yourself some temporary walls; a roommate of one of my best friends did that in a similar situation. The roommate just used some opaque plastic sheeting stretched tight around a light wooden frame they secured to existing walls.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:08 PM on July 21, 2012

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