The first order of business — aside from fiddling with the Blackberry I've purchased as an experiment in pushing my technological boundaries — is, naturally, finding myself an apartment of my own. Since part of the practical purpose of this fellowship is to give me time to write, I'm trying to acquire a place where I can live solo, even though I could do much cheaper by splitting a place with a roommate. Historically, I have poor relations with roommates, and I find them a stressor that I would rather avoid, finances permitting. RC is cheap enough, by US standards, that this is a viable possibility for me — although, funny story!
So, RC is so named because I did my doctoral research here, as well as this current stint. The housing prices here tend to rise pretty swiftly from year to year, so I had sticker shock when I started looking around: I remembered prices several years out of date. Once I adjusted for inflation, I started looking for a place pretty much like what I had last time: small, relatively cheap,
Until this morning.
While walking down the streets of my favored potential neighborhood, searching the landscape for signs of apartments for rent, I had one of those very belated moments of clarity. I calculated the value of my monthly stipend in RC money, and realized that I could pay nearly twice what I had set as my price ceiling before, and still do just fine. Not buying rounds of champagne for the whole house, but fine. And it occurred to me that I was still thinking about my finances like a grad student. "Remember, half of your money really goes to tuition. Remember, you can't spend more than X on rent or you won't be able to feed yourself." And I'm not a grad student anymore. (I mean, duh, you knew that. But as I've said before, I'm really not that smart.) I realized that my stipend is intended to fund a postdoctoral scholar who expects to live slightly better than a Dickensian grad-student existence. When I almost double (not quite, that's still hard for me to choke down) the original price ceiling I set, I wind up with approximately a quarter of my monthly check. It's been a long, long time since I made that much money, relative to my rent expenses. I'm still kind of staggered by it, wondering if I haven't hit the right keys on the calculator.
I'm hopeful that I can find a place that I like with room and quiet to write and think in the next few days, now that I have my head straight about the relative costs. My friends here have already fed me so many nice meals, I want to cook something impressive for them (...and their kids?) when I have my own kitchen.
For now, to bed. Tomorrow: the search continues!
|"Well, sure, kid, it's got three bedrooms and the neighborhood's quiet. But does it get any western sunlight in the living room?"|