Thoughts on life after the PhD
The digs are found, the lease is signed (hence the long absence, irregular internet access and too much time spent in the car), and the move will happen on June 10th. Which leads me to realize that moving essentially sucks no matter your situation. Unless, perhaps, you’re Oprah Winfrey, who was able to remotely evacuate her luxury California home when wildfires broke out–just called in a crew of guys to pack everything up while she continued to tape her show in Chicago. For the rest of us, though, it’s a nightmare of organizing, throwing away, driving around, getting excited and then getting disappointed, not sleeping very well, and then finally getting settled only to realize that, unless you’ve bought the place, you’re likely to go through the whole thing again in a few years.
Still, this time was definitely easier than three years ago, when my former roommate and I showed up in L.A. with no car, limited funds, and no knowledge of the area. I’ve learned a few things since then:
1. It’s much better to have a car. I really don’t know how people without cars do it. Back in 2006 my dear father was kind enough to do all the driving (I didn’t have a valid driver’s license back then, so I couldn’t even rent a car). Being able to drive around also helps immensely in giving you a lay of the land, something I feel like I never really got until I finally started driving in L.A. eight months later.
2. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. My roommate and I had a pretty unrealistic budget back in 2003 (we were hoping to get a decent 2-bedroom for around $1200, which makes me crack up laughing nowadays). This time around the boyfriend and I looked at a few cheap places, but it became clear pretty quickly that something was amiss. Even if it wasn’t immediately obvious, there’s just no way that a 2-bedroom in Los Feliz rents for $1300 unless it’s a front for the mafia.
3. Moving is expensive. You always think you’ll save money by getting friends to help out and throwing lots of stuff away, but you won’t, not really. Boxes, storage, gas, trucks, deposits, cleaning fees–it really adds up.
4. You really come to appreciate friends and family during a move. In my case, this particular move has involved a lot of couch-surfing–I’m staying mostly with the boyfriend, but his place is a tiny studio and love can only take so much uber-close cohabitation. I have come to appreciate my friends and family not only for providing me with beds and couches, but for offering listening ears and home-cooked meals while I was living out of a suitcase. I’m going to do my best never to take those sorts of things for granted, or to think that I can do everything on my own.
5. Making decisions as a couple is a lot harder than making decisions as roommates. Granted, my roommate and I were in a different situation three years ago–we needed a place super fast, so when we found one that mostly met our criteria we grabbed it and didn’t ask too many questions. This time around the boyfriend and I had to think about bus convenience (to both campus and other locations), cost, neighborhood, and a host of other factors. And I found that where I would have easily given in to any demands my roommate made, I wanted a lot more compromise from my boyfriend. Things were more personal, and emotions ran a lot higher. Luckily we managed to find a place that we both like and that meets both of our basic needs. If anything I’ve learned that searching for an apartment is a good test of a relationship. Now if we can just handle all the stress that will come with actually LIVING together…
Thoughts on life after the PhD
tales of travel, research, and life
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