Tag Archives: commute

Surrounded by a Smoke Cloud of Mainstream Bliss

What happens when I miss the 7:30 train by a second is I get stuck in the city until the next train at 8:40, at which time I begin an hour-and-fifteen or so minute ride to my stop and another 20 minute walk home. I usually miss the train by ten or more minutes, but arriving when the door is closing just plain sucks. In fact, if I didn’t have to tag my pass on to the train, I may have made it – the man at the door was going to let me through, but then I had to run back to tag my pass.

The good news is it’s quite beautiful outside. I’m sitting outside by AT&T park, waiting for the next train home. Apparently it’s a pre-game for the Giants against the Oakland A’s, so the atmosphere around here is quite festive. I Feel rather out of place in my work close all pissy about missing my train when there are hoards of happy folks headed to the game. When I see people who are that happy, I question when the last time I’ve actually been happy – in that sort of useful, blissful way. Sure, I’m happy with my boyfriend – happy in a safe and calm sort of way. But I haven’t really had fun in a while. I don’t remember the last time was when I had fun. Maybe my birthday last year but even then there was drama which kind of put a damper on the mood. You know, I just miss having fun.

My typical weekday amounts to crawling out of bed at 6am, reading through emails until I finally get up the motivation to hop in the shower, run out the door to catch the train – and somehow it’s already after eight at this point, sometimes nine – I’ve forgotten to eat breakfast but I manage to get a train for an hour or so to the city and I do more work as the scenery from the last 10 years of my life passes before my eyes out the window. I get into the city, walk the 30 minutes or so to the office, or if I’m lazy I take a bus which takes pretty much just as long. Then I get to the office, rather late, and try to focus on getting all the millions of things done that I have to get done and feel completely incapable of handling. When I can’t handle the stress anymore I find some food to stuff my face with in the kitchen. I figure it can’t be that bad since I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch.

Sometimes… I take a walk outside in the afternoon with a colleague, which is a nice break. Then the time flies by, I stuff my face with more random food, and all the sudden the day is over before it feels like it even began. I head back to the train… 30 minutes walking or by car or bus, and hope to make the one I want to take, but rarely do. I sit around and wait for the next train. Eventually it comes – it takes a good hour-and-a-half to get home. I’m home, usually, by 10. I jump in bed ready to pass out and force my boyfriend to watch one episode of some television show with me on the computer which I normally fall asleep during. I wake up the next day to do it all over again.

Oh woe is me, right? I mean – I’m getting paid well for this life, this is the life I chose. It’s not slave labor. But I’m tired. I’m getting older and six months of this has taken a toll on me. I could move closer to work, but I’m not sure how much that would help. It’s not just the commute. It’s the career. It’s the chemistry of chemicals firing off in my brain. It’s the loss of whatever existed of a carefree childhood. When I see people so happy heading to a baseball came I wish I could be that happy about anything. I wish I remembered what pure happiness felt like. I wonder if I’ll ever feel it again.

Should I Rent Forever?

I’ve been fairly happy renting thus far in my life. At 26 years old, I’ve never really contemplated owning my own place until now. My rental costs have varied greatly over the years…

2004-2005: Chicago, 2br apartment shared w/ 3 people in a nice area. I lived in the living room w/ a curtain for a door for $460 a month. I think some utilities were included in that too.
2005: lived in DC, where I rented a room with a semi-private bath for $800 / month. Utilities were included. Then I moved to California, where my first place was “free” but it was really part of my internship stipend. Soon after I moved again… to a 4br, 2ba apartment shared with 3 other girls (and their friends on occasion) for $480 / month. When I got a full-time job, I decided I deserved my own place, even though I was making about $35k per year. So I found a studio with utilities included for $900 / month. In a year, the rent for that studio went up to $1100 / month. Even though I knew this was a lot, I didn’t want to deal with moving and I liked where I lived. So I stayed one year. Then they raised the rent to $1350 / month and I decided to leave the apartment complex and look for a more affordable, room-share situation. I found a place in a nice condo complex for rent with a smaller personal living area but a nicer all-around apartment for $635 / month plus utilities split between myself and two other girls.
The problem is that now I live far from my job so the cost of the monthly commute is about $230 / month for parking at the public transit station plus the train, and that’s not including the gas it costs me to get to and from the train. So… you could say now I’m spending $300 / month on transportation, or $1000 / month on “rent” including transportation and utilities. So I ask myself… should I move? If I do move, how much should I pay for a place? While my roommates and I aren’t best friends, we get along fairly well, and I’ve gone through my share of roomie nightmares in the past, so I’m not in the mood to get into any of that mess while just getting into the jive of things at my new job. Still, the cost of the commute plus the actual commute (about 1 hour 15 minutes each way) will eventually get to me. I could even find a place that costs the same or cheaper slightly closer to work… maybe 30 minutes closer… because there are some areas that are not as nice as where I live now that are on the way towards the public transportation stations. I really should be living there. But I just don’t want to deal with moving.
Then, the idea always pops in my mind… what about buying a home? Well, that’s really not possible right now… the average costs of a 1br condo here are like $600,000. Given that I only have $50k in savings at the moment… it will take me a long time before I could even afford a down payment on that. And the more I think about it, the more I realize owning a home… at least in this area… may never make any sense. It’s just too expensive. I look at how much my parents still pay for their house after all these years in mortgage and property taxes and homeowners insurance and think, wow, I should really just rent forever.
Of course, when I have kids one day, I guess it would be nice to own a home. I liked growing up in one place all my life… I think it would have been really tough to move around a lot, being as shy as I was. Then again, lots of families move a lot and they do just fine. And you don’t have to move all the time in a rental, you just never know when your landlord will decide they need you to leave. I guess that on its own is enough reason to consider owning. But really, how can anyone afford home ownership here? This year I’ve hit six figures… I may even make $150k this year, and that isn’t near enough for me to own a condo or a home in this area. I think I’d have to be making something like $300k / year before I could even really consider owning.
Do you own a home? Do you rent? What’s your monthly cost for owning or renting? Why do you own… or rent?