The Move. The Move? Yes, The Move. Right?

Yesterday Kamel and I went to go look at apartments not in the city during his lunch break and in the afternoon. First of all, not in the city? I had been driven to this place by San Francisco’s shit hole, over priced apartments, or apartments that were alright and in areas that just made me sad. You may be one of those people with a lovely, decently priced apartment that you can see yourself in fro the next 5 years, but I am not one of you. And we have been searching and stalking craigslist and convincing ourselves that other neighborhoods are good, they’re good, they’re fine… we could make it work, no… no we can’t. We couldn’t possibly.

There are things my sanity needs in an apartment. The first is no bugs or vermin. I have lived with mice – lots of mice – and I have lived with ants – unrelenting ants. I need windows and light. Probably more than most people, and I don’t even think I have seasonal affective disorder, I just need natural light so I don’t feel like I’m living in a cave. And I need to be able to walk to things like grocery stores or convenience stores or public transportation or some restaurants or bars. I don’t want to live on an island. And those things are even above the basics for me – and you’re going to freak out when I tell you what some of the basics are that I’ve had a hard time finding.

  • I need a kitchen that is more than a strip of linoleum in my living room.
  • I need a bedroom with a door.
  • I need the fridge to fit inside the kitchen and not be around the corner in the living room or hallway.
  • I need a secure building and not a ground floor deck with giant glass sliding doors that anyone with some strength could open.
  • I need a bedroom that actually fits my bed, and is not a studio with a large closet.
  • I need an apartment that doesn’t have visible mold on the ceiling.
  • And! I need us to not spend 1600+ for anything less than a 2 bedroom.

So where did that lead me? Out of San Francisco, to my trepidation. Yesterday we put a hold on an apartment in San Mateo, close to Kamel’s work. The apartment is about 200 sq feet larger than our current situation (I mean… there is a hallway. A REAL hallway! Instead of just rooms attached by portals that sometimes involve doors), has brand new carpeting, brand new windows with screens (!!), and FOUR closets – including a floor to ceiling pantry in the kitchen. You guys, I even have a full sized stove and a dining nook that’s off the main living room. And.. AND! Under the sink storage in the bathroom!! I wanted to make snow angels on the living room carpet right there in front of the leasing agent. Kamel was gritting his teeth at me and whispering, “poker face.” Yeah right.

After exploring downtown San Mateo (So many restaurants I had no idea!) and scoping out the neighborhood around our apartment again (We’re right up against a very quiet, normal neighborhood with homes and families), we headed home – back to the city. And we started to fa-reak out. Like meltdown city.

It was like a really, really sad (vs tender) version of Goodnight Moon.

Goodbye Park, Goodbye beach that we walk to all of the time, Goodbye amazing view, Goodbye favorite Italian restaurant, Goodbye knowing how to get everywhere without a google map, Goodbye Tommy’s Margaritas (SOB), Goodbye Land’s End and easily accessible views from the bridge, Goodbye 15 minute commute to my internship. Goodbye living in San Francisco.

Kamel asked me, “What do we tell people when they ask us where we live now? What do we say? We CAN’T say San Francisco. We hate those people who don’t live here and then say they do when they do not.”

“I would say …” I started.

“Don’t say ‘Bay Area’ Lauren, I hate that too. San Mateo. We live in San Mateo. I could do that. I could tell people that.”

“I was going to say ‘Outside of San Francisco.’ Ya know, for a landmark since no one knows where San Mateo is.”

Sigh. And then I really thought, what the hell are we doing?! AHHH! And by the time we got home we weren’t moving anymore, but we were simultaneously saying, “no no I can’t, we can’t, I can’t ever move, never!” and “Yes we can, think of all the crap stuff here, think of all the awesome stuff there. WE CAN DO THIS.”

And this morning I woke up and thought, “Goodbye smelly building, Goodbye creepy neighbors and stolen packages, Goodbye 330 days of fog, Goodbye terrible appliances, Goodbye broken windows with no screens, Goodbye ants (!!), Goodbye terrible parking and expensive lots, Goodbye 50 minute bus rides, Goodbye no storage, Goodbye never having people over.”

So, we still have a few questions for the leasing agent that Kamel is going to call on today, but I think we’re a go. We’re doing this. It’s going to be an adventure. And we have a pool and a BBQ area! So, pool party at my house. And we can walk to the train for a quick trip into the City. And it’s going to be fine. I’m going to mourn some things, and have some freak outs and so is Kamel. But we’re also going to have a better quality of life. And it’s exciting! It is. I’m excited. And terrified. And I feel silly about this. But damn, we’ve been struggling with where we live and I just don’t want to do that anymore. So it’s going to be good. And if it’s not, we’ll roll with it. We’ve learned we’re good at that.

49 thoughts on “The Move. The Move? Yes, The Move. Right?”

  1. Oh, the new place sounds so wonderful! I may or may not be coveting that soon-to-be-your dining nook.

    I know how difficult to leave the city it is. When we moved last year (just a couple miles, but just far enough to be in an entirely new area) I totally mourned for our regular places, even as I rejoiced about the new (cleaner! more up-to-date! safer! more convenient for work!) apartment.

    Trust me, I speak from experience. You’ll find new regular places. And maybe some of them will be even better than the ones you have now. And you’re still close enough that if a hankering for Tommy’s Margaritas comes up, you can totally GO.

    Plus, this means we have new places to explore next time I come to town. Yay!

  2. Yay!! My favorite part was when you guys were discussing what and how to call your new home πŸ™‚ I hate when people say Seattle when they really mean Renton or the fucking issaquah flatlands (puhlease!) but SERIOUSLY, San Mateo (to me anyways) sounds exotic and beautiful and totally California, so roll with it πŸ™‚ And you know I will be all over a visit once the new place is set up πŸ™‚ Barbeque in the non-fog!? ok!! WOOOOOOT

  3. Holy shit, you have a PANTRY??? Jealous!!! Your new place sounds freaking amazing, and its going to be such an adventure to explore the new neighborhood. And! A 15 minute train ride into the city? sooooo doable. It takes 15-20 minutes on the El to get to plenty of awesome places in Chicago (and i live in the city), and at LEAST 15-20 minutes on the bus to get… pretty much anywhere! Think of it in those terms (and compare it to buses in seattle), and its super close!

    Good god, i can’t wait to come visit.

    1. Dude I just sent an email to claire about how much I NEED YOU GUYS to come visit and how I had a dream about everyone last night and blahblahblah basically: I need us all together again and i’m a mess without you. Sigh.

  4. My professional opinion* is that you are going to be fine, and you are going to LOVE it. If you ask me (which you didn’t), this is a total best-of-both-worlds sitch. You’re still close enough to the city to go in and enjoy the best parts of it, but you will have an awesome apartment, and you’ll find new regular haunts. To me, that’s the most exciting part about moving. I would move just about anywhere (except to a dry county – no way!) because I adore the challenge of making new routines based on new locales and finding new awesome spots, like places to get coffee and places to get wasted or even places to get a two-drink-buzz and a great quesadilla. Oh, right – you’re in California. People actually know how to make quesadillas there… I digress.

    *I am not a professional.

  5. First off that was an awesome post. I love the visual of you doing snow angels on the carpet. Hilarious.
    Second off, every single friend I ever make in this stupid city leaves! So, sad for me, but good for you. It’s almost always the wiser ad better choice to move away. And San Mateo is awesome. Can I come visit, pretty please?

    1. Seriously. I hate moving for that reason. But I promise to be available. Kamel and I already brainstormed how to let me go out in the city hahaha. And yes. Visiting! I really really really hope you do!

  6. When will you move?

    Of course it will be ok! It sounds like you and Kamel have a lot that you’re excited about. And of course you’ll miss SF. It’s the best city, ever (in my humble, no-longer-spending-an-hour-on-muni, distance-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder opinion). But, how fun is decorating a new place? And learning a new neighborhood? And having a decent kitchen will be so awesome!

    And SF isn’t going anywhere. You’ll visit, and when I visit we can still hit up our favorite spots. And if you hate it, then at least you know you took the risk and you’ll move again. (It’s not like you’re buying, after all.)

  7. Yeaaah ! I am so happy for you guys ! And don’t you worry you will adapt to the new neighborhood and town and you will find places you like. Plus , it is always exciting to explore a new place. And if you can go with the train to the city, it is still quite handy. And you have a pool and can BBQ and have storage, no ants, can have people over. You are totally gonna be fine !

  8. SOOOO exciting. You will settle in. Promise. And don’t cry when I tell you that our new house is 3000 sq ft on 0.72 acres, 4 bed, 3 bath, huge garage… for less than the number you mentioned above. What does that mean? Move here next, I say.

  9. I need a bedroom that actually fits my bed, and is not a studio with a large closet.

    THIS! When we were first looking at apartments in brooklyn, we were getting so desperate, that we actually considered moving into this apartment in a basement that had a GIGANTIC living room, and a bedroom with no closet, that was off the kitchen, and it was literally the size of a bed. A double bed. and it had no closet.

    Glad we held off. We found a decent studio, then bugged the crap out of management, until something bigger in our building opened up. It has 7 closets! and 2 bedrooms. <3

    1. When I was trying to find a place in Seattle right after grad school for a very low cost, I ACTUALLY told my mom that I wish I didn’t HAVE TO HAVE a bed! ….. WTF Lauren. WRONG sentiment.

  10. I’ve never been to San Francisco but the area you are describing doesn’t sound like the suburbs. It sounds like a smaller city near San Fran. Is that right? Yeah, it’s probably nice to live within the city proper, but if you have all the same conveniences of city living, a bigger and cleaner apartment, etc. it seems like a good trade to move out of the city proper and into a place that works better for you.

      1. you guys will be fine! You will say that you live on the Peninsula. And then you will meet me and R for drinks after work in SAN MATEO. Or San Carlos. Or Burlingame. See? It’s fun already! Welcome to the burbs. Now go join Costco so you can store 900 rolls of paper towels in your new pantry!!

  11. Dude it’s hard! When we finally decided we wanted to buy a house because our apartment was just too small and we were at that stage in our lives, we started looking. We were living in Wallingford, which is an AWESOME neighborhood, and lived a block away from the bus stops, our commutes were pretty simple to both school and work. So when we noticed the house across the street from our apartment which was around the size were looking for had just sold for over $800,000, we realized we probably wouldn’t be living in Seattle anymore.

    It was sad, but we had a long conversation about what we both wanted, if we were ready to move to the suburbs, and what requirements we had if we did. We wanted to make sure that if we did move, we’d have access to public transportation as we both work in downtown Seattle and that is a MUST.

    We found our house, at a 7-10 minute drive from the train station, in the perfect neighborhood, something we called our “dream house” from the start, and for such an amazing price. We knew when we saw it that it was time to say goodbye to city-living and hello to the suburbs. While there are times that I do miss living in Wallingford, I remember how happy we are to have such space in our house, to be able to have a big group of people over, to have a kitchen we can both be in at the same time, and our dogs – our DOGS! – are so much happier to have a yard to run around in.. It’s amazing.

    It’s not easy to say goodbye, and you’ll continue to miss it… but you’ll find you miss it less and less when you remember living in a dinky apartment.

  12. Wow, everybody has a story about being heartbroken when they move out of the city — except my husband, who couldn’t WAIT to rocket out of there to go bum in the ‘burbs. I still miss Philly, and when I go visit I feel like a kid let loose in the mall. But, as the hubs says, now I live where it doesn’t “rain garbage”. And though I cry, “Slander!”, it also puts things in perspective… Oh, and the pizza’s better here. So chances are good you’ll find a silver lining and enjoy your adventure. Just think of yourself as an “early adopter”, hehe.

  13. Hey, if you guys really, really hate it (because dining nooks and closets are soo loathesome. πŸ˜‰ ), you can always move back to the city next yearβ€”not that I wish moving again on you. But think of it this wayβ€”before you were prioritizing location over space, and now you’re trying out the reverse…

  14. Awesome. You can do it. Things change, expectations change, requirements for living spaces change. It’s painful, but you sound as if you guys will be happy there.

    Plus? Full-sized oven? A-MEN.

  15. I am also newish to San Mateo from San Francisco and I LOVE IT! and have you been down Burlingame ave yet? Between downtown san mateo and burlingame you have so much! There are a bunch of us from APW in the area, we might need a meet up (and I have a yard and a fire pit and wine…) oh, and the farmers markets! Burlingame ave on Sundays and CSM on Saturdays, oh the food!!

    Welcome to the neighborhood.

    1. Lauren, isn’t burlingame where we found your wedding dress? remember how we were squealing about how cute everything was??? yaaaaay neighborhoods!

  16. I am so excited for you both. I even went to Google earth last night and took a tour of your new neighborhood. And there, about four blocks away is a NORDSTROM. Mom went wild… did the Nordstrom dance. Ha. ( Not really). Then I looked at the distance from your new place and Kamel’s job. Wow. He could walk or ride a bike if he had to. And there, about a 1/2 mile away, just past the high school is a GOLF COURSE. We are so going to visit.

    I love your excitment, you and Kamel building a life and sharing so much. LOVE IT.

    love you tons

    1. YES YES YES, convert Kamel into a Bike Commuter so we can talk about bikes and bike lanes and bike traffic and and and!

      (Also, I enjoy how enthusiastic and supportive you are Gene πŸ™‚ :))

  17. Your going to love San mateo. What parts though? Like near el camino, or central park which is downtown around 4th street.
    In San Mateo there are a lot of nice spots some of my favs are
    Hillsdale Mall, taxis(burgers/shakes joint) Toto’s pizza (pick up or delivery only, and seriously an excellent pizza), a japanese terayaki place that is off the hook and cheap, good mexican spots for burritos and tacos…etc…

  18. The apartment sounds awesome!! I know that it’s scary to leave the city but it sounds like your living situation will be less stressful and you’ll be able to enjoy your life more instead of worrying about where you live so much. Also, city life can be soooo exhausting sometimes, you know? Everything is a huge hassle and more expensive and crazy. Plus, you can visit SF any time you want to πŸ™‚ Congratulations!

  19. congrats congrats congrats!

    seriously, signing a lease and committing yourself to a new place for a year can be nerve wracking, but you’ll get through it! i hope y’all have lots of fun exploring your new surroundings!

  20. It’ll be awesome! You will love having all the space and sunlight!

    (But waaah, you are moving farther away from me. πŸ™ Everyone cool lives in the peninsula these days…)

  21. Dude – you two are James and I in a nutshell right now. For reals. Except we’ll still live in Chicago – except we’ll live in the REAL part of Chicago, not the yuppie part where all the post-grads move to from every surrounding Big Ten university in the midwest. We’ll be living among diversity (yay!), but also among some sketchy areas that I probably shouldn’t walk around by myself at night, but we’re getting more for our money, a beautiful brand new place, and most importantly – somewhere we can afford and that I’ll be happy to work from every day! Whew. It’s not easy though. Having to drive to get to the lake will be my one true sadness. (No more walking 1/2 a block and being on a bike path along Lake Michigan… *sad face*) And no more walking out our door to find 3 dessert shops, amazing BYOB’s, and street festivals. But alas, it will be okay. And we will be fine! πŸ™‚ As will the two of you. πŸ™‚ (Oh, and we’ll have way more room for visitors!)

  22. So, I’m moving to SF in November and we’re JUST starting the process of looking for a place and I’m SCARED! I’m coming from Chicago which isn’t the cheapest place ever, but I’m not sure I’m ready to pay $1000 a month for something MEH. Your post has simultaneously made me feel both better and worse about our prospects.

    But I have a thought about your concern with distance. The secret is books. Have a book that you only let yourself read when you commute, and you’ll find you’re excited for the longer trips. May I suggest the Hunger Games if you haven’t read them yet? Either that or podcasts like This American Life.

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