Thursday, January 31, 2013

Downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment

This is what a one-bedroom apartment without furniture looks like.

It's been a long, long time since I lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Since 2005, in fact. Since then, in order, I've lived in a ramshackle farmhouse in Virginia, a four-bedroom duplex in Brooklyn, a two-bedroom duplex in San Diego, a house in Massachusetts, a three-bedroom Victorian in Rhode Island, and now--a one-bedroom cookie-cutter apartment, in an huge apartment complex.

So, naturally, it's a bit of an adjustment. We'd gotten rid of almost all our furniture before the move, so that isn't a problem. (We also got rid of almost everything else, so the lack of storage space isn't really a problem either.) The biggest change is the lack of space--we're not used to being on top of each other all the time. The cats, too--they're used to having more room to romp. This is also the first time we've lived together with only one bathroom. That'll be the biggest source of conflict.

I won't be able to hang all our pictures (not enough wall space) and we will no longer have a dedicated guest room. But there are advantages to downsizing, too. To wit:

1. We won't have to buy a lot of furniture.
2. We won't need a laundry basket. The washer and dryer are right there, two feet from the bedroom.
3. Very little to clean. Which means no more fights about cleaning, or gardening, or yard work.
4. Oh yeah, no yard work. No raking leaves, shoveling snow, or scraping the car (since we get an assigned garage parking space with our unit).
5. We only have two windows, that come with blinds, so no hanging curtains.
6. The kitchen came with a microwave, so we don't have to buy one of those, either.
7. The utility costs are folded into the rent check, a set amount every month, so we won't have to worry about regulating the electricity/heat/air conditioning usage. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to wander around my apartment in bare feet, in January, after freezing my ass off in New England for three years.

I also realized, while at Costco, that I'll need to shift my grocery-buying habits a little.

Since hubs and I got married, I've shopped like this. Bulk first, then fill in the corners with sales, supplemented by a CSA. But after moving once a year since then, twice cross-country, I'm rethinking my whole approach to buying in bulk. I don't have the room anymore, and I'm tired of having to get rid of perfectly good food (and cleaning supplies, and paper towels) every time we move. So here is a partial list of things I'm no longer buying in bulk: Paper towels, shampoo/conditioner, spices, oils and vinegars (except for olive oil), bleach, garlic, bread flour, grains, soap, dried fruit, cornstarch, cornmeal, cleaning supplies, and multiples of anything. From now on, I'm only buying those things in normal amounts, when they're on sale. Not at Costco.

I'm also scaling back the sheer variety of my pantry. I love the option of having olive oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, and truffle oil at my disposal, but each time I've moved, I've found myself either frantically trying to use all those up or giving away half-bottles of each. Plus, they're expensive. This time, I'm going to start with olive oil and peanut oil and see how far those take me. Ditto vinegars, exotic spices, different flours, different kinds of salt, and grains. I don't have the storage space I used to have, and let's be honest: if current trends hold, I'll be moving somewhere else soon anyway.

Here's the biggest change: Washington State has an almost 35% tax on liquor sales. 35%! That means there's basically $10 extra in taxes on every bottle I want to buy. Given the usual variety of our bar, that means $300 or so extra in taxes, just to set up the bar the way I want. So you know what that means: we're going to be drinking a lot more beer and wine while we're here. No more crazy cocktails at home--we're drinking the stuff that's not taxed.

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