Saturday, July 09, 2005

the difference between living in the middle of nowhere and the middle of somewhere

Okay, so I've recovered from my feelings of distress about having spent too much on my apartment, and my enthusiasm for moving to Boston/Cambridge is renewed. However, as a note about the geographic variability in housing prices, I will note that back in my small Iowa hometown, I have a sister who recently moved into an apartment that is approximately 2/3 the space of what I rented yesterday. For what I will be paying as one month's rent next year*, I could have paid the rent on her apartment for (slightly more than) 13 months.

(It's been strange when I go back to my hometown comparing the situation there to the real estate froth/bubble/geyser going on other places. In a nutshell, where I come there have long been higher mortality and outmigration rates than fertility and inmigration, with the result that there are more houses than people who want to be householders. Excess supply is a cruel thing. I suspect that if and when the time ever comes to sell my parents' property, it will be discovered that their house actually has negative value--that is, the property would be worth more if it was just the land without a house on it.)

* I found my place through a realty agency for which the fee was equivalent to a month's rent, which I'm factoring into the cost of the one-year lease.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Too bad about the agency fee. Hmmmm. Well, there's probably a good reason you used them, so that's done and over.
Now check out all the great, free things to do in the area (lots and lots).

jeremy said...

The majority of apartments in Boston are either full-fee or half-fee. I'm probably more annoyed with myself that I didn't try to negotiate down the fee than the rent of the place I'm getting per se. I was freaked out about the possibility of getting shut out again here if I messed around too much. I'm such a monetary milquetoast. Ugh.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

When I lived in Kirksville Missouri, I rented a 500 square foot efficiency with a kitchenette and a cute little back porch (it was another converted house) for $175 a month. It was three blocks from campus. I knew Madison was going to be more expensive, but it was still a bit of a shock.

Anonymous said...

You did just fine. There's no way to figure the odds in Cambridge apartment hunting. It's not as if you were negotiating a new car deal.
Relax. You swam with the sharks and survived.

Tonya said...

I know of (and have heard of) several couples who have moved from large metropolitan areas to smaller communities in the south when they retired because their money would go so much further in the new location. It's good to hear that there are still places where housing is affordable (and even inexpensive) -- but I can't imagine living in those communities. My plan is to move to NYC at retirement (or sooner if possible), so I will likely take up residence in Grand Central Station.

brady said...

What's weird is that, in Madison (the middle of nowhere) I paid twice as much for the same square footage as I paid for in a crappier apartment than I did in Memphis (the middle of somewhere). Of course, now that I live in L.A. (where there's no there there) I have half of the square footage I did in Madison and pay the same. But I gets to see famous people. Woo hoo!

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

The rents in Madison seem to bear very little relation to what you actually get. They are in general higher than those in Tucson, the other place I was considering before I moved here, and Tucson is 10 times the size of Madison, population-wise. I blame the proportionately large undergraduate population and their parental subsidies.

jeremy said...

RWS: Property taxes in Tucson are probably also lower than they are in Madison. The lakes may also constrain the space allowed for near-campus (or, for that matter, near-downtown) housing here.

A+ said...

The Madison rental market takes advantage of precisely the fact that Madison is in the middle of nowhere. As an undergrad, where are you gonna live? On a farm in Stoughton? There's nothing there that's a viable alternative to living downtown. They know they got ya. So rent is astronomical for everyone, especially when you take into consideration the lack of virtually everything that characterizes the "city."