Monday, July 9, 2012

Moving destination locked in

I've secured an apartment in my soon-to-be location, and now I can happily, if a bit harriedly, start planning the details of my move and resettlement.  I have a few appliances on my shopping list, as well as some serious needs – I'll have to buy a bed when I get there – and some less-serious needs, like a proper muddler to prepare my fabulous mixed drinks.

First things first: I'm considering the pseudonym Balltown for my new location.  Technically, I'll be living in a small town unto itself, but urban sprawl has long since made the town itself an outlying suburb of the huge regional city, for practical purposes.  You've probably never heard of the small town, but everyone has heard of the huge regional city.  I haven't spent enough time there to form really strong associations, but it has quickly become apparent to me that most people there are die-hard sports fans.  Balltown seems as handy as anything else.  My new neighborhood will be about half an hour away from Tinytown by car, which I'm willing to live with.  Lots of my colleagues make that commute every day, even with little cars that don't seem ideal for snowy weather.  That said, I was told by my chair there that I will simply have to accept the reality that I must buy new tires twice a year: snow tires when winter comes, and all-weather tires when the weather warms up in the spring.

I know, Balltown isn't the most evocative name, but frankly, after the deeply resonant misery of Ghosttown, I'm ready for a touch of blandness.  Just a touch, mind you.

So, questions for those in the know, or who care to toss in their two cents:

1. Is it worth the savings to look for a used microwave oven, or do used models have too high a tendency to break down?

2. On a similar note, what should I do about a washer/dryer?  For some damn reason, the Balltown metropolitan region is the only housing market I've ever seen in which renters are expected to furnish their own laundry machines.  My apartment, like every other one, has hook-ups for the machines, so I could just buy a set for myself that would either move with me to my next location or be re-sold later.  But even a low-end set costs about $1000 retail!  This actually leads to several questions at once:
    2a. In the long run, assuming that I neither marry nor spawn in the next few years, is it more cost-efficient to buy the machines or just do my laundry at a laundromat?
    2b. In the long run, no matter what my family situation, is it too time-inefficient to go to the laundromat?  In other words, are the purchased machines ultimately worth buying in terms of time and convenience as well as money?  There's definitely something to be said for being able to power through grading or other grunt work with only two-minute breaks to transfer clothes from one machine to the other, instead of putting everything on hold for a few hours to go out to the laundromat.
    2c. Is it reasonable to buy a used washer/dryer set?  Who on earth keeps a second set of machines hooked up to demonstrate their efficacy?  How would I confirm that the machines are in working order?
    2d. Since the hook-ups are installed side by side in a relatively spacious one-car garage, does it make any sense for me to search for a stackable "apartment-style" set?  I'm pretty sure it doesn't make sense, but want to confirm with people more experienced than I in these matters.

3. Should I buy a television set?  I've never bought one that had any reception; the last one I owned was, perforce, merely a very large DVD player.  As a consequence, I really don't care much about TV, and I certainly don't feel much like paying for cable access or a dish or whatever to get all the premium channels.  But I would also like to have people over now and then, and I worry that I will seem either too austere and Puritan or just a supercilious asshole without a TV for them to watch.  I will also admit that I know how awkward it feels to drag a chair in front of a sofa so that I can position my computer on it to watch DVDs.  (Particularly on dates.  Yeah, awkward.)  Crap, did I just talk myself into buying a TV?  Fuck.


  1. You can always put off buying a tv until you need one. You don't need one right now and you'll have a better idea of what you want later.

    We bought new w/d when we moved here, but #2 on the blog bought used ones off Craigslist.

    New microwaves are more likely to break down than old ones (unless something has changed in the past 2 years, which it may have). Something about the vacuum tubes being defective (and even if under warranty, it still costs more to replace than getting a new microwave). We really regretted not keeping our $50 graduate student microwave.

    1. Ah, I was hoping you two would chime in! I'm kind of staggered to see how pricey microwaves are nowadays. I swear that I can remember buying one for $30 when I was in my first year of grad school. It worked just fine right up to the day that I sold it off before going into the field. How are companies selling less reliable models for $200 and up?

    2. I'm torn between "planned obsolescence" with the microwaves and just "defective parts from China" and the US companies don't care because it means you have to buy a microwave every 2 years or less. Very irritating. Looks like Consumer search says they're still having a % break down.

    3. For what it's worth, I bought my microwave for 35 bucks on sale at walmart two years ago. (I know, walmart, but hey, I didn't want to spend more than 50 bucks on one.) For my money, I'd rather buy a new cheap microwave than a used one, mainly because I feel like people's microwaves get totally disgusting and so that squicks me out - sort of like buying used shoes. But you might not have that issue.

      I WOULD, however, buy a washer and dryer used, if you've got a hook-up. Having spent years going to the laundromat, all I can say is that it sucks. Especially in winter. And it turns you into a person who has a three-month supply of underwear so as not to do laundry, and once you become that person, you stay that person. And you really don't want to be that person (says that person).

      On that note, though, I wouldn't invest in a washer and dryer for the future, because who knows what the future holds? I would spend as little money as you can on a working washer and dryer, and then you can sell it when you leave or leave it and not care.

  2. I vote, get a new microwave, it's worth it and you'll use it a lot. But I've had better luck than #1. Don't buy a TV.

    I bought a used full-sized washer & dryer. I looked at craigslist but I decided it was too much risk buying from some person (and then how would I ever get it to my house???). SO I went to all the stores in town that sold used appliances and checked their inventory and prices and guarantees, etc. Then I bought what seemed best. I think both of them together might have been around $400.

    It is really worth it to buy your own washer at the very least; you can air-dry most things if you are strapped for cash. The used-appliance store I used delivered and installed. You won't have the time, energy, or quarters to deal with the laundromat. It requires a lot of planning ahead and hassle.

    Good luck!

    1. #1 says: We did buy a new microwave... then a year later bought another one... then less than a year later bought another one... very irritating (and not uncommon according to consumer search!) Our current microwave has lasted 2 years, so I think we're past the bad vacuum tube stage.

      If you're looking at used appliances anyway, it might be worth checking out prices on a 3 year old microwave!

      When we were on sabbatical, the house we rented had an *ancient* microwave-- it still worked just fine. (Just like our cheap 6 year old grad school microwave was still working just fine when we left it.) They don't make them like they used to.

  3. For the TV, you can just get a large monitor for your laptop as a compromise. Watch for deals on Woot, my husband and I did this to get two. It's also nice for actual work (for me, anyways).

  4. I would say it's not worth it buying a washer/dryer if you are moving again next year ... my sister says that it is tough to move them and they never work quite as well once you do, and she should know, having schlepped a damn set from pillar to post with a bunch of moves between apartments, condos, and finally a house. Something about the agitator needing to be taken apart or specially padded or something.

    So, I don't have a W/D because of this and I will admit that going to the laundromat is definitely a pain, but if you are alone and not washing up after kids, you are probably not going to be using the ones in your home all *that* much, anyway!

    Also, congrats on finding a place!!!! We want to hear all about it. (And ... no bed? What have you been sleeping on anyway?)

    And in honor of your new town:

  5. I may be the lone dissenter here, but I think:

    1. Just spring for a new microwave. A basic one is not too expensive. Target has some for around $60-70.

    2. Yes, it is worth it to have your own washer and dryer. If you do indeed move and don't want or need it, it's so easy to offload a lightly-used set. Having lived without one this year, I can affirm that I will never go without again. Just buy a basic pair somewhere like Lowe's or Home Depot with free delivery and set up. I'm looking on Lowe's and seeing that they are having a sale. You could get a nice new basic washer and dryer for less than $700, total. I say go for it!

    3. I also lived without a TV this year. If you have a laptop/computer/iPad and have a subscription to Netflix and Hulu Plus, forego the TV. If you really want to watch a sporting match or similar live, go out to a bar or to a friend's house.

  6. Personally, I could not live without a washer/drier ever again. With kids, I do a lot of laundry. However, even if my whole family were to die in a car crash (universe forbid), I would still want to have a set. Going to the laundromat is not only a pain, but you will meet the worst of all hilljacks, druggies, and nefarious sorts in such places in the heartland. If you would like to preserve whatever innocence you may still have about the human race (which as a pseudologist might not be much, but still...), I'd advise against going to the laundromats. Besides, you'll spend as much money there over time as you would on a cheap set. As for moving it - you might not have to. See if the next tenants would like to buy it from you! Landlords will frequently make deals like that for you.

    As for TV - we have two, but the only reason why is because (1) the kids watch TV, (2) my mom gave us her extra TV so we'd have one upstairs and one downstairs (the upstairs one is for watching while ill in bed). We practically never do, unless it's to watch something on Netflix, like Downton Abbey or The Tudors. That stuff is accessible on a computer, so I say skip the TV. Anyone who would judge you for not having one is not worthy to watch a movie with you anyway.

    I also think a new microwave is a good purchase. 60 bucks at Target!

  7. P.S. Uh, yeah - why don't you have a bed?

    Also, you can feel free to adopt my pseudonym for the area, the Heartland. Not everyone is a sports fan here; some people even cut off sports statues at the thighs, for god's sake!

    1. Seriously, why do you all think I haven't been sleeping on a bed? The things that run through your minds...

      To clarify: I will not take my current bed with me. It was a freebie cast-off mattress (with a frame, not a proper bed) that I didn't select, but was offered. I was only too glad to take it and save the money, but it has proved very uncomfortable for me, especially for my poor lower back. I'm going to take the opportunity to abandon the thing and seek out a mattress that suits me better.