Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Phoenix and I are not friends


 Looking for a place to live in Phoenix while still living in Salt Lake is a tricky task.

First problem: I can’t decide whether I ought to rent or buy.

Pros of renting: Someone else will continue to take care of my problems. I can remain financially untethered. More disposable income due to not forking over a down payment. If I hate my neighbors, I will not need to make any effort to see the positives in them. If they hate me, I will not need to make any effort to win them over.

Pros of buying: It’s the grown-up thing to do.

Cons of renting: My dad’s voice in my head, constantly reminding me that I am throwing money away.

Cons of buying: I don’t think I have it in me to decorate and maintain a home adequately. Also, I’m in a condo stage of life (emotionally, financially, socially) and the concept of HOAs really annoys me.

Winner: Renting

Second problem: Phoenix is a land of great contrast. Phoenix has air conditioned major league baseball fields, and awesome restaurants, and great outdoor activities, and Neiman Marcus. It is also the kidnapping capital of America.

So the dilemma is thus: If I do rent, all the places that I feel are within my price-range appear pretty beat up and ghetto. All the places I would love, love, love to live in are out of my price-range.

Why is this an issue? You would think that would be a no-brainer. Suck it up and live in the icky apartment with 80s tile and fake panel wood in the sketchy neighborhood. That’s what people do when they’re starting out in life, after all.

But that’s not really the answer, because Snobby Me knows that she can’t kill a cockroach, and will immediately book a flight home to live with Mommy and Daddy as soon as she sees her first scorpion. Snobby Me knows that, all protestations to the contrary, she is really freaked out by the fact that there was a shooting at the grocery store I frequented the last time I lived in Phoenix. Snobby Me remembers the Great Roommate Fire of 2008 debacle all too well. Snobby Me knows that Phoenix has a high crime rate, and Snobby Me also knows that I never really took any of those self-defense courses seriously.

And Snobby Me really, really wants garage parking. And floor-to-ceiling windows. And a view of pretty mountains, or pretty desert, or at least a pretty mall—not chain link fences. And Snobby Me wants hardwood floors. And a gym. And a washer and dryer. And a DISHWASHER, damn it. We went for three years hand-washing dishes in law school, and those days are OVER! And Snobby Me wants a second bedroom, or at least a den. And no, that will not be to facilitate roommates. That will be to facilitate our desire to have more than 600 square feet of living space. Ahhhh, the freedom of a thousand square feet …

Snobby Me really thinks that this is really not too much to ask for.

But Financially Responsible Me wants me to remember the value of provident living, and paying off student loans as fast as possible, and saving for retirement, and giving to charity. Financially Responsible Me choked on her own gum when she saw that sweet, sweet high rise apartment for $1600 a month before utilities. Financially Responsible Me is even bribing Snobby Me with the fact that my long-postponed vacation to India will be much more justifiable if we sacrifice now.

Snobby Me finds this argument very persuasive, but ultimately not conclusive.

So Financially Responsible Me and Snobby Me are duking it out in my head. Walk in closets and gated communities, or the peace of mind knowing that my 401K is maturing nicely? Granite countertops now, bitchin’ vacations later? Live with the guilt of knowing that my monthly rent could feed a starving family in the third world, or live with the fear of having my throat slit at night? (OK you two, that last one was a bit dramatic. Tone it down, please.)

This is a problem that may have no answer, much like a circle has no beginning or end.

But unfortunately, with or without an answer, I’m moving in six weeks.



  1. Oooh, oooh, this problem IS much like a circle. I recommend faking yourself out, e.g., telling yourself you made a decision and seeing how it feels. See what I mean? "Self, we got the high-rise! We don't have money to go out to eat or buy a lot of random crap with, and we'll cut it close every month, but we're safe and fabulous." And see how guilty you feel. Then, say "Self, we live in the ghetto, but we won't default on our student loans and we have money for impulse buys," and see if you get an ulcer thinking about crime in your neighborhood.

    Lame? Perhaps. But I've been making decisions like this for 27 years.

  2. No, definitely not lame ... it's kind of helping actually. When you put it in terms of not having money to go out to eat (which I need to stop doing) or buy random crap (also need to stop doing) but being fabulous (which I could totally use more of), then I only feel guilty about the poor, and I could totally just up my volunteer hours or something to compensate for that.

    Thanks :)