I moved into this apartment in July 2012. I had just turned 23 years old.
I grew up shopping on Walnut Street and visiting Rittenhouse Square, and to live a few blocks away was a true dream to me. It still is. When I think back, my favorite moments were walking on 18th along the park. On my way back from the Farmer’s Market. On my way to a date. Heading to meet my friends to watch a game at a bar. Hurrying to a blogging event. I don’t think it will hit me until things are back to normal life that I won’t be walking that block simply because I lived right down the street anymore.
As the parking tickets show, Jim moved in with me just over a year ago. He was previously living in the house he owns, in Brooklawn, NJ (not familiar? This is how I refer to the location: the first exit over the Walt Whitman Bridge). Even in the first year of us dating, we spent way more time here in the city than at his house. It was my city snob phase and it was strong, this I know.
The truth is, while I live in pretty much my dream location, I do not make Rittenhouse money. After some initial negotiating, my apartment started at $750 a month, nine years ago. Every year my landlord sends a notice that rent will be going “up,” every year I wrote a reply asking for “none.” They usually agreed to “less.” I’ve signed a few two-year leases in there, too, to keep costs low. I’m now paying an incredible $835 a month, and I know how rare that is (even without a dishwasher and coin-operated washer/dryer in the basement). I think that’s part of the reason I was so hesitant to give it up.
But just like many other people you know (and some influencers you don’t), Covid hit us hard. Not financially, but mentally and physically. While I began working from home, adding a desk and computer chair blocking my closet and literally feet from our bed, Jim still went to work every day, at the odd hours he will for the foreseeable future. Many nights, when Jim would get home at 4 or 5 am, he would go to sleep on the couch, knowing my whole work setup is in the bedroom and I’d need the room (or he’d have to ask me to move, but he’s too nice for that) in a few hours.
We (and really mostly me, because I was not leaving the house) craved space. Perhaps even some outdoor space we could call our own. We talked about the options: moving to rent, moving to buy. We were enticed by the low interest rates for a mortgage, so we started looking to buy.
We knew what prices were in Philly, and have casually looked over the past year. Jim and I both make the same amount of money, so we also knew what we wanted to spend on a mortgage in order to save, for some of the other big things that hopefully are coming down the line! So we looked at houses in New Jersey, where we are both originally from. I learned *a lot* about the home buying process – man oh man. We made an offer on one. I cried when I saw it, it was so perfect. We didn’t get it, they went with someone who offered over ask and put 20% down conventional. I probably cried again. After many house visits, competing with multiple offers on the first day, we re-thought about our options.
Jim had bought his home before we met. He bought it thinking he’d start a family there some day. When I said I wanted to stay in the city and have him move here, he rented out a room at his place. That rental recently came to an end, and there we were. While we were speaking to mortgage companies about a new home to buy, Jim refinanced his mortgage, and his monthly payment is now less than I pay here.
So, we started discussing what would need to be done in order to move there – to a house one of us already owns – and when we could do it by. At the great advice of my boss, Misty, since we are used to living in a small city space, we decided we could shoot to get at least the upstairs done (two bedrooms and a bathroom) and be OK to renovate the rest little by little. I put in my 60 days notice with my landlord, a little too soon for Jim’s liking, but we’re making it work (thank you, Jim!).
We’ve been there every weekend, for many weekends. We are at Lowe’s several times a day. The house is old. And needs a lot of work. And boy are we renovating. Jim is so handy and smart with things like this, so I’ve been attempting to complement his skills with project management, scheduling, selling things, and prep and clean up. His dad has also been with us (and there by himself) many days, and his cousin Chris is helping a ton, too – I am so grateful. I did help tear out the bathroom floor, but that’s a story for another day.
We move in a month. I have been dying to tell you guys, but I wanted to make sure I had the words ready. I know I may lose some of you who are (my favorite kind of people) the true city slickers, and I totally get that. I don’t plan on changing my content (some of you I’m sure have noticed I’ve been sharing NJ more anyway – between visits to our parents’ houses, all the times we were looking at homes to buy, and now the renovations!). This city is still my favorite place, and Her Philly will still be Her Philly.
I hope most of you do stick it out with me. When Jim and I met in Pennsport for our first date, it took him less time from Brooklawn than it took me from Rittenhouse. I will only be right over the bridge. xx