Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:31 pm

Hello,

Can you check my thinking to make sure that I am making a sound apartment lease decision?

1. I am going through a divorce, will have joint custody of very young baby/toddler. The divorce/relationship with ex is amicable, and we even still live together, but I would like to move on, begin dating, etc.

2. I found an apartment complex that I really liked in a good area about one month ago.

3. I wanted a top floor 1BR/1BA apartment. At that time, they had 2-3 of them. And At the time, I was just beginning my apartment complex and wanted to compare, price/value etc with other apartments in the area. After searching and touring apartments, I found this one to be superior. When I came back a week later, all of the top floor apartments were gone.

4. In the last 30 days or so following the apartment search, there have been 3 or 4 one bedrooms come available, but they were not top floor, and even these were rented out quickly. So, it seems apartments do come available in this complex, but are scooped up quickly.

5. Today, there is only 1BR/1BA available, and its not on the top floor (4th floor of 5 floor building). It will go quick. Should I settle for this, even though its not top floor?

6. This unit, only one that is available is $1,710/mo (HCOL area) and has a little more square footage than other 1BR/1BA units. Other 1BR units when they are available run $1,510-$1540 per month. I think that I could probably do fine in the smaller 1BR/1BA, but they aren't available.

7. I would need to pay $850 to leave this unit to get to a top floor unit and of course move all of my stuff, if a top floor became available AND I could only do that after 6 months of living there.

8. I believe this is in my budget, but welcome any comments. I earn ~100 - $125k per year gross (probably 110k on average). Rental, including energy costs, utilities, would probably run $20-25k. Back of the envelope, this seems sensible enough, right?

9. There are 75 top floor units. When another one will come available, I do not know. They do not have waiting lists.

My thinking is that I should secure this apartment and accept not being on the top floor because who knows when the next top floor will even come available right? Or should I wait another 30-60 days and hope one comes available AND hope that I am the first to secure the apartment?

Thank you for reading. I value any input/guidance/suggestions.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 17739
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by dm200 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:34 pm

Why is the top floor so important to you?

Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:39 pm

Thank you DM.

I like as much peace and quiet as possible. I am afraid of getting a neighbor that walks around a lot at odd hours, kids running around, etc. I could manage with a little noise (and I know that I will have to moving into an apartment) and will probably get used to it, but my preference is to have nobody above me.

Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:42 pm

One other note. They have a 30 day guarantee. If I was not satisfied, I could pay for the how many days I stayed there (pro rated) and move out without a lease penalty and would get my security deposit, but believe I'd lose a couple hundred bucks in fees.

spammagnet
Posts: 915
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:42 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by spammagnet » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:50 pm

Take what's available. You may find you have no reason to move, even if the opportunity becomes available.

tibbitts
Posts: 7943
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by tibbitts » Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:52 pm

Gardener wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:39 pm
Thank you DM.

I like as much peace and quiet as possible. I am afraid of getting a neighbor that walks around a lot at odd hours, kids running around, etc. I could manage with a little noise (and I know that I will have to moving into an apartment) and will probably get used to it, but my preference is to have nobody above me.
No you won't get used to it. I've been in this exact situation (well not the after divorce part - I mean with someone in a higher floor.) Most apartments are made of wood and the noise from someone who just walks around above you can be terrible. I've learned that some people walk like they're bouncing from one foot to another at all times.

On the other hand before that I had lived on the bottom floor in a building converted to an apartment with eighteen-inch-thick concrete ceiling, and that was pretty quiet.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 17739
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by dm200 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:09 pm

I would think your priorities would be a living arrangement most conducive to being a shared custody parent.

tibbitts
Posts: 7943
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by tibbitts » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:22 pm

I missed the 4-5 floor part. Is this a concrete building? Ask if they have two open apartments one on top of the other so you can test the noise.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 17739
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by dm200 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:27 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:22 pm
I missed the 4-5 floor part. Is this a concrete building? Ask if they have two open apartments one on top of the other so you can test the noise.
Sometimes noise is adjacent apartments.

Once lived on second floor of two story building and the walls were thin. Two single women lived in adjacent apartment. One had a regular "guest" - and the "giggling" would start about an hour and a half before I normally got up.

niners9088
Posts: 64
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:50 am

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by niners9088 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:27 pm

If you have shared custody why aren’t you looking at 2 bedroom units? I’m assuming you will be there at least a year and if your child is going to be spending nights at your place it will be good for him/her to have his/her own room.

tibbitts
Posts: 7943
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by tibbitts » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:37 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:27 pm
tibbitts wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:22 pm
I missed the 4-5 floor part. Is this a concrete building? Ask if they have two open apartments one on top of the other so you can test the noise.
Sometimes noise is adjacent apartments.

Once lived on second floor of two story building and the walls were thin. Two single women lived in adjacent apartment. One had a regular "guest" - and the "giggling" would start about an hour and a half before I normally got up.
Excellent point. I was only speaking from my own experience with the noise from above. So again testing might be worthwhile.

denovo
Posts: 4308
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by denovo » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:40 pm

Top floor isn't as important as you make it out to be.
"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

tibbitts
Posts: 7943
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by tibbitts » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:41 pm

niners9088 wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:27 pm
If you have shared custody why aren’t you looking at 2 bedroom units? I’m assuming you will be there at least a year and if your child is going to be spending nights at your place it will be good for him/her to have his/her own room.
Maybe it's a matter of cost. The child could sleep in the living area or in the bedroom, and so would have his own room for sleeping.

MJW
Posts: 446
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:40 pm
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by MJW » Sat Aug 18, 2018 6:42 pm

Back in my apartment days I had a couple of HORRIBLE experiences with tenants on the floor above me, one of them so bad that it eventually ended with the tenant being evicted. Had another guy living above me that would get up about 90 min before me every morning and did something that sounded like dropping a 50 lb tool chest from a ladder. I have no idea how he produced that noise, but I heard it pretty much every morning. It would jolt me awake. I can empathize with wanting a top floor apartment.

On the other hand, when I was dating the person that would become my spouse, her apartment was on the top floor and the unit adjacent to hers had a couple that would fight loudly pretty regularly, with the arguments spilling out into the hallway with lots of door slamming and profanity. But no stomping coming from above. :wink:

In other words, no matter what you are trying to avoid you are just as likely to encounter something as obnoxious/intolerable in its own right. Some people are just cretins and you get the pleasure of having them as neighbors.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 18525
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:12 pm

I have lived in apartments all my life. In some places neighbors made more noise than in others. I have always been able to tune it off.

The top floor is hotter in summer and your control over AC may be limited. In my current building the elevator is frequently out of service, and those on higher floors have to walk. In my opinion, 2nd and 3rd floors are the sweet spot in buildings with 4 or more floors.

One of the most contentious issues with rented apartments is parking, especially in urban areas. Find out if you get an assigned spot and how it's enforced.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8228
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by celia » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:50 pm

Ummm, There's one tiny, toddler thing you are forgetting about.
Gardener wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:31 pm
1. I am going through a divorce, will have joint custody of very young baby/toddler.
If you have joint custody, I assume the tiny one will stay with you occasionally. There's no way I would want to be in a place high up with a toddler. I would probably avoid the ground floor due to foot traffic/ easier break-ins. But are you aware that toddlers turn into small children? These small children like to push things (like chairs, tables) around and also climb on them. Or maybe just climb on the furniture that is under the window so they can look out. But to see what's "down there", they like to lean out. See the problem?

You are thinking like a single person, but are now a parent, even if only for one weekend a month, likely more. I'm sure there will be times you want to go to the bathroom or answer the phone and the kid is not visible to you. And where will he/she sleep and play? Will you have another bed in your bedroom? Is there room for toys/playing/their clothes? Or do you plan on moving in a year or two?

This baby/toddler doesn't move around very much at the moment, but that won't last long.

You asked us to check your thinking, so there's my thoughts. You were probably also (sub-)consciously thinking of the toddler, since you listed it as part of the first item, yet you don't seem to have taken another "tiny" person into consideration.


I would think that a nearby park, other small kids nearby, and other young parents nearby would be something you look for when apartment hunting. Hint: families usually want more than one bedroom and bath. If that's all this building has, it is not suitable for you.
Last edited by celia on Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MJS
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:55 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by MJS » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:51 pm

Investigate smart or noise cancelling earplugs, like Hush or Adept.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8228
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by celia » Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:57 pm

MJS wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:51 pm
Investigate smart or noise cancelling earplugs, like Hush or Adept.
If you do, don/t wear them when the child is over, even when you think (s)he is sleeping. You need to hear what is going on in your apartment.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 8228
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by celia » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:04 am

celia wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:57 pm
MJS wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:51 pm
Investigate smart or noise cancelling earplugs, like Hush or Adept.
If you do, don't wear them when the child is over, even when you think (s)he is sleeping. You need to hear what is going on in your apartment.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 13833
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Watty » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:22 am

Gardener wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 3:31 pm
I value any input/guidance/suggestions.
You may be over analyzing this.

In all likelihood in a year when your lease is up you will want to move no matter what apartment you get and delaying the move will just delay getting on with your life.

Kaktus
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 1:57 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Kaktus » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:49 am

If the beams are made in concrete the sound from steps is not a problem in most cases. Sound of voices and music horizontally is a bigger problem in my experience.
If I divorced I would also go with smallest (cheapest) apartment in child friendly area for the first move. and I would get a murphy bed.
Best wishes for your next step!

mouses
Posts: 3639
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:24 am

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by mouses » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:37 am

I would also be much more oriented towards how the place is for a kid that the slight possibility you can avoid more noise by getting a top floor apartment. Sleeping in the living room is not like having a bedroom of the kid's own. Maybe you should reconsider having 50-50 custody, given your priorities.

Determined
Posts: 246
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:43 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Determined » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:40 am

Kaktus wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:49 am
If the beams are made in concrete the sound from steps is not a problem in most cases. Sound of voices and music horizontally is a bigger problem in my experience.
If I divorced I would also go with smallest (cheapest) apartment in child friendly area for the first move. and I would get a murphy bed.
Best wishes for your next step!
This is sound advice. Shared 50/50 custody is work, but being a non-residental parent is extremely hard on the parent child relationship. Statistically non residential fathers in particular are less and less in the picture over the first few years. You have the opportunity to establish a home fior your child , not just a place your child comes to visit. There is a huge difference. I wish you the very best and hope you can find a place that works.

User avatar
midareff
Posts: 5712
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:43 am
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by midareff » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:52 am

I would not think in terms of what my budget was until I knew for certain what my child support and alimony, long or short term, were going to be. Top floors can have issues if the roof leaks when it rains or get extra heat or cold penetration seasonally raising your electric bill. 4 out of 5 would do for me as a newly divorced dad you are going to find you are focusing your attention on many other things.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 17739
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:11 am

I once had a coworker whose live in girlfriend had two young children with joint custody with her ex-husband. They chose an apartment complex where the children could easily go back and forth between each parent's apartment.

Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:16 pm

OP here.

Appreciate the advice given so far.

Child is only 18 months old.

Regarding needing more space:

I am a bit of a minimalist and don't think I need a huge space. I dont own much, not even a TV, and hate clutter. I do have a small business, so do need room for a simple desk, with laptop and printer. Also, not ideal, but my soon to be ex has been co sleeping with the child these first 18 months. I figured I could do the same until a certain age or have a small bed near my own. But, perhaps I've underestimated the amount of room I'll need for myself and the child, which ill have about half the time. How much room does a child really need? I seriously doubt the toddler not having their own bedroom for 1 to 2 years would greatly impact their quality of life. I also did not want to pay more for a second bedroom. Based on comments, I could perhaps go for a larger one bedroom.

Saving$
Posts: 1610
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:33 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Saving$ » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:17 pm

If the building is 5 level, the SE US is the only area I am aware of in which they build wood frame up to 5 levels. Everywhere else, 5 levels of apartments means it is a concrete building. If a concrete building, you probably do not need to worry about noise from above as much. A level of retail with 4 levels of apartments above could well be wood framed apartments - they build the retail as a "podium" level with a concrete slab above, and then start the four (or 5 in the SE) levels of apartments above that.

Noisy neighbors (adjacent/ above/ below) is something apartment developers are sensitive to. Newer apartments with have acoustical sealant, and other provisions to attempt to abate noise. That said, a wood frame floor structure transfers noise - there is no way around this.

Regarding your thinking of spending $20-$25k on housing on a $120k income, it really depends upon how many other debts you have. With joint custody, will either of you pay the other any child support? If so you need to factor that into your budget. If not, you will have the little one often enough that you need to have a 2 bedroom apartment. The child needs to know when it is time to go to sleep, they sleep in their room.

You did not ask, but my first reaction in all of this, from both the child's perspective, and a financial perspective, is that since your relationship is still amicable, do absolutely EVERYTHING and ANYTHING you can do to try to put it back together. Parents who are together (and who can sustain a healthy environment) are probably what is best for the toddler. From a Boglehead point of view, staying together and sustaining one household instead of two will be much better financially. In the long run, it will be much more affordable to raise this child if the parents are together - you won't have the scenarios of one parent moving to another city and the cost of plane rides, the dual household, etc. etc.

Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:23 pm

OP again.

One more note.

I went over to the apartment complex this morning by pure coincidence found out that a renter was getting ready to leave his large top floor apartment. Its 950 square ft, which is more that I think I need. It will probably run $1900 per month, excluding utilities. So call it 25k per year.

Again, my income after looking at this years trajectory is probably between 105k and 120k. I would be able to invest about 30k per year. I have a decent idea of what child support will look like already.


Is this out of bounds or okay?

Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:31 pm

Thanks Savings.

I would be curious to know now if the frame of the building is concrete or wood. It's only a couple years old. Parts of the building are 4 floors and part are 5 floors.

About salvaging the marriage. Agreed that it would be best to stay married. I am in that camp too. But, that ship has sailed and that was not my decision in the first place to divorce.

Getting off topic, but raising a child in an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage is probably not preferable to co parenting to the best of your ability.

Thanks again.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 17739
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by dm200 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:09 pm

Gardener wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:23 pm
OP again.

One more note.

I went over to the apartment complex this morning by pure coincidence found out that a renter was getting ready to leave his large top floor apartment. Its 950 square ft, which is more that I think I need. It will probably run $1900 per month, excluding utilities. So call it 25k per year.

Again, my income after looking at this years trajectory is probably between 105k and 120k. I would be able to invest about 30k per year. I have a decent idea of what child support will look like already.


Is this out of bounds or okay?
Can you "leverage" this high quality residence in the custody/property settlement agreement - in that you will be providing higher quality housing for your child?

MJS
Posts: 145
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:55 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by MJS » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:33 pm

Yes, your 950 is good enough (for now.) Consider making the bedroom into your office / child's room, and sleeping in the living or dining room yourself. You can, eventually, teach the child that it's co-sleep with mom, but cot sleep with dad. Good luck and best wishes in your new life!

Gardener
Posts: 202
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by Gardener » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:30 pm

I found out today that the building materials used in between floors is gyp-crete, which is a combination of concrete and other various materials. So more sound proof than wood, but less than concrete, I suppose.

pspice78
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:06 am

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by pspice78 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:46 pm

Maybe I'm weird or just a mom with a 2 year old but I'd rather deal with a little neighbor noise than (at worst) have to carry a sleeping toddler and groceries up five flights of stairs or (at best) wait for an elevator managing the same. I don't think the top floor is as much of a premium. I would find the least expensive two bedroom in a convenient area to the other parent. And I too consider myself a minimalist.

lifeisinmirrors
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:15 pm

Re: Apartment Decision After Divorce- Please evaluate my thinking

Post by lifeisinmirrors » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:54 pm

950 square feet is fine but I would look for a two-bedroom place around that same size since two people will be living there. I would look for a building that has other kids living there, hopefully with outdoor space to play in or a park in walking distance. Having playmates and their own room makes it feel like another home to a kid, rather than some strange place they're just visiting.
And if you have any dates over it would be best that there isn't a race car bed and a bunch of toys on the floor in the master bedroom.

Post Reply