Decided to move, then decided not to move... help?
February 7, 2017 5:08 AM   Subscribe

I don't know how healthy or unhealthy my indecision is. I feel like I'm in a sort of weird situation that not everyone experiences, so it's hard to get perspective.

I've rented from my boss for $500 / mo. for several years. I live in a garage apartment on their property that's totally separate from their house (so I only see them coming and going, if at all). I decided recently that I needed more space and that I had an unhealthy attachment to them, because they had become like family to me. (I occasionally watch their kids when they're gone, have had meals with them, etc.) I've been thinking about moving for awhile.

In any case, I signed the lease on a $1200 / mo. apartment closer to my work. Now, I'm wondering what I was thinking. It seems like $1200 / mo. is really expensive (for what it's worth, my locale is Austin-ish and I make 77k per year). I could have waited to find a better situation, get roommates, or whatever. I am now thinking that I will break the lease (costs $2,000) and wait for something better by getting roommates, staying for another year at my boss's place, or whatever.

I feel weird because I'm not sure how healthy or unhealthy my situation is. What do you guys think?
posted by uncannyslacks to Human Relations (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think this is a common feeling when you're driven by the need to get away from a situation rather than pulled by something you want to experience or achieve. Escapism ceases to motivate after you've successfully escaped, or see that you can escape, and that leaves you wondering, "Well, now what?"

Do you know what kind of living situation you would actually like? 'A better situation, roommates or whatever' sounds like you've just struck out on a random path. If that's the case then paying an extra $8,400 a year just to do something randomly different doesn't sound like a bargain, but the main thing you ought to do is figure out what you really want, and make plans to achieve that.
posted by jon1270 at 5:31 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

How did you make the decision to move? Did something happen to make you doubt your decision? Were you excited about the apartment when you signed the lease? It's not entirely clear how you went from signing a lease to believing you'd made the wrong move.

Do you have a budget? A budget is a good way to get an idea of what you can really afford, instead of just what "seems" expensive. I've paid similar amounts for rent on a similar salary and still had money for other expenses, including saving - but your financial situation may be different.

My gut feeling is to stay unless your budget tells you it's really not going to work. Moving is more than the cost of breaking the lease - it's the cost of moving to your waiting place and then the cost of moving again, not to mention the hit to your time and energy. A short commute is an excellent thing, too.

If it makes you feel better, you can commit to some other financial step to balancing this out. "OK, my rent is a little pricey, but I'm going to learn to cook frugally / commit to buying nothing new this year / commit to saving $xx and then find something less expensive next year."
posted by bunderful at 5:31 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've lived with several of my "bosses" (I'm in academia/research, so often while I worked for grad students I lived with them out in the field), as in literally the same house! You're in some kind of MIL unit - the privacy! :)

I wouldn't say your setup is particularly weird, not weird enough to warrant moving by itself. But if you've been thinking about it for months, maybe you just want more control over your space. If it's in your budget to move, then I say go for it. You can still babysit the kids if that's a privilege you don't want to give up completely.
posted by Drosera at 5:36 AM on February 7, 2017

I don't think your situation is unhealthy based on what you have told us. Feeling like family with another family can be a wonderful situation. Are you feeling unsure because of something that happened or is it because it's not something your used to. Certainly it's in your best interest to move if you are feeling awkward and uncomfortable with something that isn't good for you but if these people are being supportive, fair, honest and giving you personal space and respect, why do you want to leave it?
posted by waving at 5:38 AM on February 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

First, the money angle: $1200 is about 18% of your income, so it's considered "affordable" by the 30% rule. Plus I imagine the landlord wouldn't have signed a lease with you if they felt like you couldn't afford to pay the rent. Still, it is $700 more a month than you're used to. Do you have that available in your monthly budget?

If you do have the money to afford it, maybe you're getting cold feet over the idea of being an independent adult living alone? Going from having people nearby who occasionally feed you to being totally on your own is a big change. Does the idea of roommates appeal to you because you don't really want to live alone?

if it wouldn't bankrupt you to try the new place and potentially break the lease later (or find someone to sublet) why not at least try it out? Maybe there will be benefits to the new place that you haven't realized yet.
posted by cabingirl at 5:39 AM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

$1200 a month is perfectly reasonable for rent, especially given a $77k income. You're also going to have a shorter commute, which will save you time and possibly money. Is it a big change from $500/month? Absolutely, but, unless there are major necessary expenses that you haven't mentioned, it's not a foolish way to spend your money at all. Forfeiting $2000 before you've even tried something, however, seems a mighty steep price indeed, and not just financially. I suspect your second thoughts have more to do with apprehension about leaving a very comfortable situation for something unknown that costs a bit more. Keep in mind you still can maintain a close relationship with your boss's family and help out when it works for you, but you will have an expanded sense of freedom from being on your own. Given what you've mentioned here, there is nothing that screams this is an unhealthy dynamic, but you wanted more space for a reason. I can imagine many ways in which this dynamic could be less than ideal or even unhealthy. More space and more privacy seem like excellent reasons to strike out on your own. It's natural to have second thoughts, but you went through the process of looking at and securing an apartment. I think you know what you need and made that happen. Enjoy your new home and remember that embarking on this new adventure doesn't mean you have to leave what you liked about your last one behind. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 6:12 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I decided recently that I needed more space and that I had an unhealthy attachment to them, because they had become like family to me. (I occasionally watch their kids when they're gone, have had meals with them, etc.) I've been thinking about moving for awhile.

I don't want to minimize your feelings, but just because you are close to this family doesn't mean it is an unhealthy attachment. I could see where being close with your boss's family would be unhealthy, so if there is stuff going on that you haven't laid out here, then by all means you should move, but in my book, being close to people you are not related to can be a great thing for you, them, and the community.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:21 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering if your indecision has more to do with the combination with work rather than just the living arrangement. Would you feel better about your living arrangement (being like family) of it wasn't with your boss? Do you feel the attachment is keeping you tied down to your current position when you'd like to be moving on or blurring the line between work and home? I.e. you have the downsides of working for 'the family business" without the upside (more of a financial stake, presumably your employment isn't as secure).

If this is the case, do you feel like you could change jobs and still keep your living arrangement? If not, that's really not ideal and moving is probably a good idea so you don't ever feel trapped at the job. But if you feel like you could change jobs, maybe explore other career opportunities before deciding to move. Then you could decide what aspect of the arrangement brings you the most positives and drop the other one.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:36 AM on February 7, 2017

Ask yourself, what's the solution to your unhealthy attachment? Determine what makes your living arrangement unhealthy and fix that.

Wanting and opting for a change could simply mean you're at a new season in life. Overtime, it appears your lease agreement turned into you becoming part of their family. A positive direction based on what you've mentioned. There's nothing wrong with amicably moving on and staying in touch.

The difference in the amount of rent is more of a budget issue.
posted by mountainblue at 8:46 AM on February 7, 2017

I decided recently that I needed more space and that I had an unhealthy attachment to them, because they had become like family to me. (I occasionally watch their kids when they're gone, have had meals with them, etc.)

This isn't necessarily bad.

However, if you feel like you are not getting out to have a social life as much because of it, you can work on your scheduling to make more time for it. Or whatever other thing YOU feel is unhealthy, identify it and work on that.

If other people are saying things about how it might be unhealthy to live in that situation, I'd just assume they are jealous of the low rent.

It seems like the main thing that makes you want to move is some sort of vague sense that it's not "normal" to be close with your boss -- it's certainly not the average but that doesn't make it a bad thing. And it sounds like you would probably have great job security -- if they need to cut people, and it comes down to either you or someone who isn't watching the kids occasionally, you will most likely stay. Consider carefully any economic pressures on your industry and your company if you decided to move, because there might be some other employee living there and watching the kids instead of you.

If you break the lease on the new place, the rent savings will pay for it in three months. If you aren't sure about it, don' t go.
posted by yohko at 12:05 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm going to break with a lot of the posters above and say that I would be uncomfortable renting long-term from my boss (and I get along with my boss, both professionally and socially, very well). It is appropriate to keep personal and professional relationships distinct, especially where money is involved, super-especially when it involves your primary residence. I also think the rent on the new place is totally reasonable for your salary.

Moving is a big life change (even just moving to a new apartment), which means it's scary to contemplate and difficult to commit to. That said, it can be *so* transformative as well. I vote do it! You can stay good friends with your boss and their family, and your new independence can be a catalyst for further expanding your social circles.
posted by aiglet at 12:40 PM on February 7, 2017

$2000 to break lease? Geez. How long did you sign the lease for? Is there anyway you could sublet it? That's four months' rent at your current place. I know moving is a hassle, but if you don't have a ton of stuff, I'd almost move to the new apartment first while looking for a better place.
posted by monologish at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2017

My previous answer assumed that you've already moved. If you just recently signed the lease and haven't moved yet it might be worthwhile to check (the lease, local tenant law) and see if you have any kind of grace period to back out. Even if there isn't technically it could be worthwhile to call the landlord and ask about it.

I think it's hard for any of us to speak to how un/healthy your living situation is. Based on what you've said here, it doesn't necessarily seem that your relationship with your boss is unhealthy, but we're working with pretty limited detail.

The indecision seems a little unusual to me - to get to the point of signing a lease and afterwards to think it's too much $$. Without knowing more about your relationship with money, I'd wonder whether your concern over the $$ might be a mask for other concerns about this transition.
posted by bunderful at 8:54 PM on February 7, 2017

It seems silly not to go ahead and move. Get your own larger place. You don't need a better reason than that. Moving is a pain but not really that big of deal especially if you're staying in the same city.
posted by shoesietart at 11:25 AM on February 8, 2017

I did this once and I moved back to my original place and never regretted it. I think it's great to have your own space but still be connected to folks. I would like that kind of living situation. It doesn't sound unhealthy. And it's OK to change your mind about the new place. And it's OK to not change your mind. This isn't as big as it feels.
posted by orsonet at 6:29 PM on February 8, 2017

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