Apr 17 2009

We’re thinking about moving


Our apartment lease is up for renewal on June 3. We have been informed that our rent will increase $20/month to $790 per month. Ugh. It went up $20/month last year as well. That’s an extra $240 per year.

I tried to haggle on the rent, as my pal Karen was able to for her rent, but it didn’t work.


When we chose this apartment, a lot of it was blind luck. We weren’t at all familiar with Pittsburgh and had to make our selection based on countless hours of internet research and one quick weekend of driving around, looking at apartments, and talking to the locals (including the police).

This was the absolute best choice we could have made at the time. 

We think it might be time to move to a different apartment or perhaps a rental house in the city.

We’d like to find a two bedroom, 1-1.5 bath place with a dishwasher and a washer/dryer. I spend at least $30/month on laundry right now. If we had our own W/D, we’d probably pay the same amount in electricity, but at least I wouldn’t have to deal with quarters anymore.

Because we’re a one-car household and do not want to buy a second vehicle, it’s important that our new place is close to a bus line or the light rail system. Shane takes the bus to work every day and we want to make sure he won’t have more than a 30-minute or so commute. 

How much will it cost to move?

I called the moving company that brought us to Pittsburgh (they’re here in town) for a ballpark estimate of what it would cost to move my superheavy Price is Right bed. There is no way that a bunch of amateurs could safely move this thing, so hiring people who know what they’re doing (and are insured) is a must.

It would be $115/hour with a minimum of four hours, regardless of the amount of stuff they’d move. So, it would be in our best interest to have them move all of our big stuff and as many boxes as they can do in four hours. I think we could get the whole place moved in about that time. 

So, it would be a minimum of $460 plus tax and other fees to hire a company to help us move. We can swing that.

How much might we be able to save?

We’re hoping to find a suitable place for around $600 to $650 or so per month. At $600/month, we’d save $2,280 per year when you factor in our new rent increase, assuming our utilities and associated expenses remain the same. At $650/month, we’d save $1,680 per year. 

Even if our new place increases by $20 or so per year, it would take several years for the price to reach what we’re paying now. By that point, we’d hopefully be in a house anyway.

If we can stay put in the next place for three years, including the cost of moving, we’re looking at a minimum of $4,000 saved — and that’s assuming a $650/month rent and factoring in an annual $20/month increase. 

That’s no chump change. $4k would be a good 10 to 13 percent of our down payment for a $150k – $200k house. 

Sure, moving is a hassle. I hope that I don’t have to move too many more times in my life. But the prospect of a better place to live and extra money to save is just too good to ignore. 

Renters, what would it take for you to move? How often do you stay in one place? Pittsburghers, any tips on areas I should check out?

Posted under Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “We’re thinking about moving”

  1. That sounds like a smart move to me. For now, you have the quantifiable expense of laundry–but if you have a washer and dryer at home, what you gain in flexibility will be worth far, far more than that original $30 savings.

    We moved into the house when Elise was 3 months old. I loaded the Budget rental moving truck mostly myself with a homemade dolly, and we hired a couple of high school kids to help us muscle the big furniture into the new house.

    Even with that much DIY, this crosstown move cost about $300. That makes your professional movers seem pretty reasonable to me!

  2. A homemade dolly? Of course, Meredith! And with a 3-month-old? You are too awesome. :)

  3. We just recently moved from a townhome rental to a house rental. We upgraded from a 2br to a 3 br b/c of having our second child. So keep that in mind when reading the following.

    Our electric bill to heat a house almost doubled! Yes I said doubled! I called my SIL who rents a two bedroom house and our new electric bill was the same as the bill for their house. My dad says that alot of your heat in apartments comes from your next door neighbors. It makes sense and now we have 4 exposed walls in stead of two so we lost alot of free heat.

    Also at the apartment our trash pickup was included in our rent but at the house I had to find someone to pick up it. So another added cost. We also had to buy a lawn mover and weed eater along with a rake and just other random lawn care products b/c it’s all now up to use to handle.

    I think there was more costs but that’s all I can remember for now. I hope this helps you plan so you can avoid the little suprises that we had.

  4. What part of the city does Shane work in? If it’s downtown, you’ll have lots of options for his getting to work on transit. I don’t live in the burgh anymore but I grew up there and am quite familiar with it.

  5. Hey Kacie!

    I’m having the same conundrum. Here’s the sitch:

    1. I pay $825 for an apartment RIGHT DOWN TOWN. The location is awesome.
    2. The apartment is not so awesome. It’s small, cold, and without any storage.
    3. There’s a SERIOUS homeless problem around my building, to include a halfway house, a mission, a food bank, and a soup kitchen.
    4. I’m an awesome tenant, and my building has offered to knock $75 off my monthly rent if I stay.
    5. My boyfriend won’t stay the night because he’s worried about damage to his (extremely expensive) car from street parking. It’s a valid point, not a whiney one like some guys do.
    6. My family worries about me in such a dim, potentially dangerous neighborhood.

    So I put my feelers out. Craigslist was awesome for me this time, and I found an apartment for the same that I was paying now, decent deposits, no pet rent, and a steady $X in utilities each month. It’s also in a safer neighborhood, closer to my little sister (Mom will be happy), but still with the “Urban” feel that drew me to my current apartment.

    Here are my tips for finding something you’re happy with:

    1. Start looking at least two months before you need to move.

    2. Make a list of all the things you love about your current place, and all the things you hate.

    3. As you screen apartments (both online and in person), don’t be afraid to turn something down because it has the same problems as your current place.

    4. Consider your “love” list and what things you can’t live without. It’s okay to turn down apartments that don’t have a dishwasher or an elevator, if it’s going to drive you nuts to live there without them. (For me, hauling cat sand up four flights of stairs would SUCK)

    5. When you find the place, haggle. Everyone’s looking for tenants right now because of the recession. Tell them that the place is just a little bit outside your budget … could they cut you a deal?

    6. Also, even if it’s a white lie, tell the managers of the place you’ve fallen in love with that you’ve looked at several places and fallen in love with another. You’re just looking to see if there’s anything better. They’ll trip over themselves to get you to sign a lease.

    My new place took me up to the apartment, even though it wasn’t done being renovated, to show me the bones and let me see how wonderful the light was. Strange :) But true.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for questions or bargain, ever. What are they going to say? “No”? Fine, whatever. But you won’t get anything if you never ask.

  6. we always rent a uhaul or other self moving company (and dolly) and convince friends and family to haul heavy stuff. We don’t have any mega heavy price is right furniture although our mattress does way a ton. Our last two moves were local moves, they cost us under $100. That’s including the cost of feeding our friends and family that helped.

    We like to move, well I like new places, places that are safe and healthy ;). I also like change so we normally move every year or two. Our situations have been changing about that often so we find that where we are living will no longer work for us. We love the place we’re at now, but unless my husband gets a good job soon we won’t be able to stay here.

  7. Yep, he does work downtown. Right now, he’s able to hop on an express bus which takes like 15 minutes, plus another 10 or so to get home from the bus stop. Plus 10 minutes it takes him to get to the bus stop downtown. So, 30ish minutes in all.

    We live in the north hills right now but we’re considering places in the south hills if they have close access to the T.

  8. Yeah, there definitely can be some added costs. Some places have absolutely no utilities included (what kind of lousy deal is THAT?) and some the tenant pays gas and electric, which is fine by me. If I’m going to rent, I want trash, sewer and water covered. And I want someone else to maintain the lawn. Cuz those are some of the perks of renting, ya know?

    I’m on the top floor of an apartment and we just have one exposed wall. Our electric bills are pretty low because of that.

  9. Haha, your last few questions made me laugh. “Renters, what would it take for you to move?” Well for me it seems the lease being up. ;-) “How often do you stay in one place?” About a year!

    Yeah I get antsy. We lived 18 months in our first place (married the last 4 of those months). We moved into a bigger townhouse. Then I lost my job so we moved into a cheaper apartment 11 months after that. Then a variety of reasons and we moved into our current apartment 12 months after that. Now it’s been 7 months and I’m looking at living spaces again. Sigh.

    When we had the townhouse, our utilities were higher. It was SO HOT upstairs and freezing downstairs. Part of that was the quality of the townhouse – it wasn’t insulated very well. We felt like a lot of electricity was being wasted heating and cooling the place. We actually preferred the second apartment we were in, and would have stayed another year had we not had so many problems with that apartment.

    So, we’ve moved 3 times, not counting my initial move because I had so little furniture at first that it trickled in over months. This past move was the first time we rented a truck – the other times we’ve borrowed mini vans and a pickup truck. Once we moved with just us and another couple! That move absolutely wiped me out, but I liked not having to deal with the craziness of having tons of people over helping. We’ll probably hire movers at our next move, since I’ll either be Great With Child or have a newborn.

    Our biggest moving expense has been paying all the stupid move-in fees, especially the ridiculous pet fee – it can be up to $600 for some apartments!

  10. We are thinking of moving too! Our rent is due to increase by $50! Plus– we want to be closer to Nathan’s job.

    For our moving costs when we moved here- across the entire state of WA, we rented a U-Haul. For the gas for our car, the U-Haul, the rental, and added insurance, we spent about $450. We didn’t have anything particularly heavy to move at the time. We just called up friends and family to help us load up! We got free packing boxes from the trail mix factory Nathan worked at at the time. (Good sturdy boxes too! I folded them up and am keeping them in storage for our next move!)

    For our next move, we will have more stuff with the baby furniture and a washer and dryer. We were able to get a manager’s special with our current apartment and got the washer and dryer for free! We are planning on getting a larger U-Haul. Our move will be an in town move, which with gas, will end up costing around $100.

    Its too bad you have to hire a service. The U-Haul cost is really great! Good luck with your move!

  11. When we rented, we had to have a W/D in our apt because I am such a weirdo about doing laundry in public places! lol

    We looked to buy a house when our rent was increasing. With that said, you know how I feel about owning right now. I don’t like that I can’t just pick up and move. If I were you, I’d definitely look for something cheaper in a nice area. Maybe check craigslist and the newspaper (do people do that any more?) I loved looking online at apartments.

  12. Sounds like a good plan. I’m glad you decided to move somewhere that will be more convenient. I did the laundromat thing for two years, and honestly I’m amazed at how much easier life is now with a W/D – and I don’t even have a baby!

    Did you price check more than one mover? We paid $200 to have movers unload our truck when we arrived in NC. Oh my goodness, it was the best $200 I ever spent. You will be AMAZED at how much movers will reduce your moving stress. I usually hate paying someone to do something I can do myself, but trust me: movers are definitely worth it.

    Also, we added a washer and dryer to our apartment. I was expecting our electric bill to go up. It didn’t. At all. Maybe a dollar or two tops, but there was no discernible difference.

    Good luck!

  13. I have moved a bunch while in college, and those were all with the help of somebody’s pickup truck and a lot of sweat. I hated it every time! What a pain, lugging all of those boxes and furniture and stuff. I agree with you Karen — it’s money well spent to hire some professionals!

    We were really spoiled when we came to Pittsburgh. Shane’s company paid for movers to come and pack our stuff, load it and drop it off in our apartment. Woow, was that nice! They did a fabulous job so naturally I thought of them first when I called for a quote. I will shop around, but I do want to make sure I get someone who won’t scratch up my bed or something.

    I don’t have family nearby and they shouldn’t lift super heavy things anyway. If anything, they’d be playing with Johnny while Shane and I did the heavy lifting.

    Yah, I do like to save money, and I do like to do things myself when I can, but hiring movers (especially when you live on the top floor!!) is worth every cent.

    Oh, and I saved a bunch of boxes from our last move, so that will help with packing and stuff.

  14. I’m guessing that, with the economy the way it is, there should be many landlords who will be very open to negotiation in terms of their rates in exchange for a good tenant. I say this because I am a landlord, and good tenants are like gold! I was willing to lower my price to get a better tenant in my investment property.

  15. Kacie,

    Here is the deal for all you younger than 50’s out there. The economy stinks right now and renters that stay and take good care of a place are rare. Use this to your advantage!
    If you move get a new lease with a right to renew up to three years at the same low rent. An attorney can draw one up for you dirt cheap and this will save many headaches also have them put in a clause about the maintance how many times do you have to let a landlord know about something and a normal time frame for fixing the problem is around 5 days. Don’t put up with anything less, get the best rate that is near where you are moving to and lock it in with the right to renew clause. Best of luck and get estimates on moving in writing that way they can not bait and switch with a low estimate and after they have you all loaded up later give you a massive bill. Have them come to the home and give a written estimate in writing with a no more than clause.

  16. my brother-in-law lives right off the T in the South Hills…he loves it since he can easily (and legally) get home after spending nights at Station Square. Personally, I’d love to live in the Squirrel Hill/Shadyside area, since there’s so much there and so much of it is walkable. Several bus routes go from there to downtown, so it’s a straightforward commute, but the rent may not be any cheaper than where you are now. Frankly, the North Hills has quite a bit to offer, too, including reasonable prices…best of luck! I assume you aren’t concerned about schools yet – you won’t be living in whichever apartment long enough for your son to enroll in the local school district?

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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