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That’s Not How It Was Supposed To Be!

Yawn. Even after a full night’s sleep, I’m still tired. Matt and I spent the entire day yesterday apartment hunting. We started off with my search in the North End, then went to his search in the Back Bay, then back to some common ground at Charles River Park.

In a twisted example of irony, Matt fell in love with, and filled out an application for, a 10th floor one-bedroom apartment in the building I was hoping to move into (though I was shooting for a studio). But when I looked in that building last Thursday, the studio was rather crappy. However, the property did have a studio in one of it’s other buildings that I did like (12th floor, city view, lots of closets). Still, it had it’s problems (original 1960’s closet doors, dark parquet floors, building-controlled AC, and the apartment was essentially one square room).

Yesterday, the broker showed me 5 or 6 apartments in the North End. The first few were downright frightening. They were listed as two bedroom apartments, but the bedrooms were so small you could only fit a full size bed in them (probably 8 feet by 7 feet). Seriously, you could literally put a full size bed in there and it would take up the entire floor. You’d have to climb onto the bed when going in the doorway. There was one closet in the entire apartment (in the living room) and that closet was only about 3 feet wide. This is because many of the North End buildings were old rooming houses that were converted into apartments over the last century.

But I really liked (practically fell in love with) the last two apartments I saw. The first one was a 3rd floor two bedroom. The bedrooms were still small, but you could at least fit a bed in it and walk to the door and closet. Everything was brand new (carpet, granite counters), but there was no dishwasher and no tub (just a shower). The last place is the one I’m thinking of getting.

It’s on the second floor of one of those little dead-end North End streets (very narrow, no parking allowed). My friend, Chris, affectionately calls these streets alleys. Anyway, the unit has exposed brick, 2 decent-sized closets, a living room area, a separate alcove (that I’d use for the office/computer), a bedroom area, full bathroom with full-size tub and full kitchen (eat-in kitchen, if I get bar stools to use at the counter-island). The rooms are smaller, but functional. There is no view, but it’s $150 cheaper than the 12th-floor hi-rise apartment down the street that I mentioned earlier.

Anyway, the North End apartment is kind of like a studio, but the living area is separated by the sleeping area by a wall of closets. There are two doorways leading to the bedroom area…but no actual doors. Still, the layout does allow the privacy/separation-of-space that the hi-rise wouldn’t…particularly helpful when I have company. The person living there now is a 40-ish single female and when I ran into her on the street after the broker was gone, she confirmed that it was quiet and very safe.

Yet safety is my big concern. For the past decade, Matt and I have always lived in luxury buildings…with either a concierge at the front desk or security and/or surveillance cameras on site. And before that, I went from living in a small village with my family, to living in a dorm with lots of people, to living with a bunch of room mates. This will be my first time living all alone…and I’m wondering how secure I’d feel in a non-luxury building. The North End is one of the safest neighborhoods in the city (and Boston is one of the safest cities in the country)…and this apartment is on the second floor…so realistically, I have nothing to worry about. But I just remember years ago – even in the “secure” buildings – I would have trouble sleeping when Matt was away.

I’m sure this is something I would get used to (who knows, it may not be an issue at all). But it’s all new to me so I can’t tell how I’ll feel. Most of Boston’s residences are like this (there are only a handful of luxury hi-rise residential buildings in Boston) so it really is safe.

So, I’m torn. Do I want the charmless hi-rise studio that is essentially one room, but has security and a nice view? Or do I want the charming unit in the heart of a great neighborhood that is still logically just as safe and has 3 separate living spaces, but has no on-site security and no view? HELP!?


  1. Comment by Michael C. on November 21, 2004 11:33 pm

    As someone who really dislikes building apartments, I say go for the North End 2nd floor. It sounds lovely. And I don’t think your concerns about saftey will last very long. I’m sure you’ll get used to having your own place very quickly! Not bad for a single day’s apartment-hunting… Michael C.

  2. Comment by chris on November 22, 2004 11:45 am

    dont sacrifice the Charm of living in an alley (LOL) for a faceless pile of boxes with a “guard” in front. as if. and, Charm has the added bonus of impressing your friends/guests/tricks when you bring them over. now if you get Cozy furniture to go with that charming apartment, youll REALLY impress your tricks!

  3. Comment by Underling on November 22, 2004 1:14 pm

    Oh…totally go for the apartment with character and charm. I’ve lived in the ghetto before in order to have a cute apartment.

  4. Comment by Allen on November 22, 2004 1:24 pm

    Always go for the charm. I think you’ll be much happier!

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