Renting in paradise, an update

I’m afraid to post this and almost afraid to write it, but we’ve sent in a deposit for a place in paradise.  How did we do on our priorities?

1.  I will be able to get enough sleep at night– no thin walls, no cigarette smoke.  (Also non-crazy landlord, but how does one screen for that?)

We ended up with half of a duplex that has a staircase separating the two parts, so it’s more like a townhouse.  There’s an empty lot with trees on one side and a house on the other side.  It’s also on a busy street, but I think I can handle traffic noise.  The landlord seems laid back and our friends know the tenants who are moving out (who are moving out because they bought their own place).

2.  At least 2br.

Exactly 2br.

3.  In unit laundry.  Dishwasher.  Reasonable appliances (though we can always buy cheap ones).

Laundry is in the garage.  Dishwasher in the kitchen.  The other appliances seem reasonable, though my in-laws have their stove and it’s not my favorite.  (It’s that electric kind with the glass top so it’s easy to clean, but not that much fun to cook with.)

4. In a decent to good school district and DC1 can stay grade-skipped (or they want to test before keeping the skip– I’m fine with that too).

The elementary school will allow DC2 to go into 5th grade.  It’s a 9 star school with a good mix of demographics and SES and not 100% white or wealthy.  Languages are optional and expensive after school ($500) and I don’t think they offer band or anything like that (update:  there is a musical instrument option offered through the school from a local non-profit), but we’ll see once we’re allowed to actually register.

5.  We can keep at least our main kitty, little kitty.

Cats allowed!

6.  A reasonable commute to:  Sabbatical Uni, DC1’s school, DC2’s preschool, given that we will only have one car.

7 min walk to DC2’s preschool.  It’s an hour and some round-trip if DH walks to drop both kids off, according to google.  There are some other options, including having DC2 bike hirself, or walking to the closer school and taking the bus ($700) to the assigned school, but we’ll figure that out.  For me it’s about a 30 min bike-ride or a 40 min drive (20 min without traffic…) or a 40 min bus drive (20 min without traffic).

7.  Walkable neighborhood that includes a playground.

The playground is across the street.

8.  Allows us to take Nice kitty


9.  3 br

Bzzt.  Only 2br.  :(

10.  Walking distance to a library

Yes!  7 min walk.

11.  Walking distance to shops

Yes!  Like, right around the corner distance.

12.  Excellent schools (as opposed to decent)

9 star is pretty good.

13.  Driveway or garage space, not just street parking.

One car garage and driveway.

14. Out door play area such as yard.

Bzzt!  There’s basically a dog run.  But hey, there’s a park across the street.

15. Furnished.

Bzzt!  I hear Ikea is cheap.  Once we have this lease thing figured out we will ask if the current tenants want to sell us any of their stuff.  Figuring out how to get other stuff over there is, of course, a bit of a nightmare problem we’re still trying to figure out.  (Like, we have to take the piano, but what about mattresses?)

16.  More than 1000 sq ft.

1200sq ft.  We had an apartment in grad school that size at the very end (using the money we’d saved being RAs for two years) and it seemed enormous.  It will probably be less enormous with two kids.

17.  Nice appliances.


18.  Nice extras (countertops etc.)


19.  Fruit or nut trees.


20.  A price considerably lower than 5K/mo.

This place was listed for 4K/mo.  I don’t know what our friend out there told them, but she sweet talked the landlord into thinking we’re so amazing she should cut an additional $100 off the rent.  Also some additional utilities are included in the rent because it’s a duplex.  So instead of paying close to 5K, we’ll be paying just under 4K/mo.  That means I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about money, especially with a month of summer salary also happening.  If our house rents out, we’ll be able to make our savings goals!

And as an added benefit, since our friend did such a great job talking us up, if this all goes through, DH won’t have to spend a week of his vacation time apartment-hunting.  So he can spend it doing moving stuff instead.  :)

47 Responses to “Renting in paradise, an update”

  1. Engineer Cents (@engineercents) Says:

    Sounds like you found a great place. Glad it all worked out!

  2. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    Nice! Sounds wonderful! I have one of those glass top stoves and you’re right -it’s no fun to cook with. I really miss having gas! Oh well.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I had one of those stoves in Podunkville and hated it — but the rest of the place sounds great enough to make up for it! And Paradise must have restaurants too.

      • hollyatclubthrifty Says:

        I agree -it does sound worth it! A crappy stove is a small sacrifice to make.

  3. bogart Says:

    Woohoo! Congrats. We have a glass-top stove, and survive: you can do it!

  4. MidA Says:

    Wonderful news! I’m betting paradise has a stellar farmers market or two…more variety and no upkeep on the foregone fruit/nut tree. :)

  5. What Now? Says:

    Yay — so glad things are coming together for the sabbatical!

  6. Leigh Says:

    Yay! I’m glad you found a place. A park across the street sounds pretty good!

  7. Debbie M Says:

    Wow, sounds pretty good so far! That was a great idea to figure out your priorities ahead of time as well as your list of wants because you pretty much nailed the top ones!

    And maybe now is a time to expand into other kinds of cooking (baking, crockpot, grilling at the park)?

    I will also mention that patio furniture can be cheap. I always thought that would be a good idea for young people–as they get nice furniture, they can just move their old furniture to the patio/yard. Don’t forget to check thrift stores and even antique stores for the hard-surface furniture. Also, you might be able to do with less for just one year.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Actually that might be a good point. Maybe you can spend a year with your kitchen table being a folding table and your chairs being the white plastic lawn chairs?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That’s what our plans were, yes. We actually still have our folding card table and chairs from our second apartment in graduate school (the 300 sq ft one, not the 100 sq ft one), but they’re in the patio. It’s what I grew up with back before my mom got a tt position, so I’m used to it.

  8. xykademiqz Says:

    Tangentially — and sorry if you talked about about this because I am sure you must have but I missed it — what is DH doing for his job? I suppose they are fine with him telecommuting? I am curious how his company and he handled his request for temporary relocation.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      He telecommutes already. From their perspective, this is just a change in which airport he flies out of.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Heh, today at a conference call meeting, DH realized that nobody had mentioned to the owner of the company that we were going to be in paradise for the year. The owner’s first reaction was to freak out because he thought DH was quitting! But no, really the only change this makes is what airport DH flies out of.

      • Leah Says:

        you might want to edit to paradise . . .

      • Leah Says:

        my lips are sealed :-) continuing to imagine you living in Fiji (mostly because I love Red Dwarf — have you ever watched Red Dwarf? DC1 might be getting to the age soon where early Red Dwarf will be hilarious to DC1).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        My grandma did a stint in Fiji with the Peace Corps after she retired. She loved it.

        DC and DC1 watched some red dwarf when it was on netflix the other year.

  9. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Another best thing: As soon as this deal had a verbal agreement I immediately stopped looking at Craigslist and Sabbatical homes. I now have no idea if there’s a better deal that we missed and I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.

  10. SP Says:

    Congratulations! Yay, paradise!

  11. Omdg Says:

    Woohoo! Sounds like you got a great deal on a great place! So excited for you! Being connected has its perks.

  12. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like a great place. I have that stove. Fun fact: it’s the only type of stove I know how to cook on. I’ve never lived anywhere once I was of cooking age to use anything else.

  13. Cloud Says:

    That sounds awesome!

    IKEA is indeed cheap. Even for things like mattresses, if you don’t want to move yours. Our kids sleep on IKEA mattresses, and they’re OK. Not amazing, but OK. But then, we bought at the low end of the scale at IKEA.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’ll probably order an organic latex mattress for DC2 (right now ze sleeps on our own grad school queen, so we’re not worried about “off-gassing”), but it’s looking likely we will spend the year with new IKEA mattresses for everyone else. We had a plan to buy everything from a family that was moving out, but the wife kept not believing the things I said (as in, we don’t CARE if the furniture has dings or the mattress has a stain) and kept dragging her heels, that I finally gave up trying to deal with her and handed her off to DH and she’s either unable to talk with DH or she’s refusing to (in that she doesn’t get his emails and when he calls, she emails me rather than calling him back). I wish I hadn’t wasted all that time trying to figure out the local uhaul situation and where to find people to help load and unload the truck. Buying new will obviate that kind of planning (since if it doesn’t fit in your car, most places will get it to you for $50 or less). Update: She emailed back again, so we may end up spending 1K on a full set of furniture (most of which we don’t need) plus uhaul plus movers.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, Ikea has a range of stuff but for little kids for just a year… heck they could almost sleep on an air mattress the whole time. (not grownups, we need support)

      • chacha1 Says:

        1. little convertible futons + 2. “mosquito” netting type canopies to make tents (privacy since they are sharing a room. :-)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The kids are looking forward to a bunk bed so much.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I’m not sure if purchasing this person’s apartment stuff is a good idea or not. She has the kind of couch that I hate (with one third converting into a lazy boy chair)– we would get a couch/futon from Ikea ($225) if not for this. But in the interest of getting things done with, I think we may end up just doing it and trying not to regret the purchase. I’ll probably get a trundle from Ikea for when we have visitors.

      • contingentcassandra Says:

        Actually, I have been sleeping on a Coleman air mattress for the last 7 years (from my mid-forties to my current early 50s). I live in a studio apartment, and haven’t yet been in the position to buy the real murphy bed I want, so the air mattress is a substitute — it’s light enough to flip against the wall.

        I have gone through a number of them (they last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months), and celebrated my 49.5th birthday by buying a memory-foam topper, since I was having trouble maintaining a comfortable balance between support/firmness and “give” (with the topper, I just blow up the mattress quite firm, and let the topper provide the “give”).

        I don’t necessarily recommend this approach, mind you (I certainly didn’t mean to keep the arrangement as long as I have; on the plus side, I’ve maintained my ability to get up off the floor, even in a half-asleep state, by doing so on a regular basis). But it can be done, without serious damage to one’s back (if the arrangement were interfering with my sleep, or my musculoskeletal health, I would have found a way to pay for an alternative, since I consider both sleep and basic physical functioning to be important enough to invest money in when truly necessary).

      • contingentcassandra Says:

        Also, yes, one can live with a folding/card table for some time (I didn’t try the plastic chairs, since I have inherited a good many chairs, which work not only with the larger tables they originally accompanied, but with smaller ones as well).

        And congratulations on finding such a good solution. It sounds like you’ve checked off all the major points on your wish list, and have found/will be able to find good substitutes for the other ones.

      • Leah Says:

        @Contingent Cassandra, I highly recommend getting an aerobed. I slept on a twin one for a year during 2005/06. It still holds air; we pull it out for visitors. We also have a full one that was our guest bed for ages. It doesn’t hold air quite as well, but all I have to do is refill every night. They are pricier up front but last so much better than tossing out a coleman one regularly. Plus, you can get an extra height one that is more like a bed. They’re super easy to deflate and put away for when you want more space, as they have a “woosh” valve. And there’s a built-in pump for filling up without having to sit there. Spring for the auto pump.

        One last tip — buy at Bed, Bath, and Beyond when you have a 20% coupon. Makes the price easier to take.

      • Contingent Cassandra Says:

        @Leah: my first bed in this apartment was an aerobed. It lasted a while, but when it gave up (and I couldn’t find the hole to patch), I decided to try the coleman airbeds, which are significantly cheaper (c. $20-25 each bought in pairs). I’ve found them just as durable and comfortable (and very easy to order from Amazon or buy from Target when needed; I stay at least one ahead).

        One of these days I really will buy the murphy bed (which will be expensive, but there’s a local firm that makes the cabinets from scratch, with the result being a very attractive piece of furniture that is only 10-20% more expensive than generic options with the same or worse-quality innards).

      • Cloud Says:

        Seconding the suggestion of a memory foam topper to mask issues with a less than ideal mattress. This is our solution on our futon guest bed and my parents keep coming back. Of course, the grandkids might have something to do with that, to…

        But seriously, I used one on my crappy mattress in college and it really helped. Ikea also sells all sorts of mattress toppers and stuff. It boggled my mind when we were buying stuff for the kids’ beds. We do like the two part duvet- we have both parts on for when it is really cold, one part for most of the year, and just the duvet cover for when it is hot.

  14. middle_class Says:

    Sounds like a very good find! Oh, we tried the lawn chair thing but it just wasn’t that comfortable after a while. Maybe you can use your rent “savings” and apply it toward decent Ikea stuff. If you had time, I would also furnish using craigslist but that’s only useful if you have time (and easy way to move furniture)!

  15. Linda Says:

    Congrats on finding a place for your sabbatical!

    I down-sized a lot before my cross-country move, and used a basic table/desk and folding chairs from Ikea as my dining surface for several months. It was working pretty well for me, but having more than one guest was a pain because I only had 2 folding chairs.

    In my experience, Craigslist is only good if you can be leisurely about getting furnishings and/or have few constraints. (One reason it took so long for me to get a real kitchen/dining table was because I needed something small and everything I was seeing on CL was too big for my space). Go the Ikea route and just get what you need to function.

  16. the frugal ecologist Says:

    Woo hop on finding a place! Finding a rental in a tight market is the pits – happy that you didn’t have more hassle than you did.

    Don’t buy the ladies furniture! You will get a lot of random carp that you won’t want – and a sofa you know you already don’t like. Plus movers. Just say no!!

    The same amount spent at ikea will get you really far towards what you need – bring sheets & towels from home. Plus you might be the recipient of generous folks looking to get rid of odds and ends.

    I hope you enjoy paradise! I haven’t been able to figure out where I think you are going – but Bay area is paradise for me – so that’s where I am imagining you guys. Good luck!

    • the frugal ecologist Says:

      Wow, auto correct typos…I hope you don’t get a random carp…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      … too late, DH sealed the deal this afternoon… but I’m sure you were right

      • notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

        Sounds like a great place & good deal! I am trying to imagine where paradise is. Enjoy sabbatical!

      • Leah Says:

        If you don’t need/want most of the furniture, then slowly start selling it via Craigslist when you get out there. Maybe you can piecemeal and recoup most of your $1k. Or, you could hold a garage sale one day and advertise low-cost furniture on Craigslist — might be even easier, especially since you’re on a street that gets lots of traffic.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh, we will probably either free cycle or deal with it for a year.

  17. Ask the grumpies: How to plan a sabbatical/faculty development leave? | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] out where you’re going to live.  If you have kids, figure out what the school situation is going to be.  Again, if you can find […]

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