Love where you live

Since moving to Tampa from Miami late last year, I have rediscovered the library. Prior, I was finishing up graduate school and could barely get through a few “leisure books” per year. Now with my dissertation (almost) a distant memory, I have found myself with a huge chunk of free time that was previously occupied by writing, reading academic literature, and worrying about what in God’s name I was going to do after I finished my program. Fast forward six months, I am gainfully employed and have become a loyal library member.

Ok, library books are not a sexy topic. However, it is totally in line my debt free mission.—i.e. free books. The Free books + free knowledge = SUCCESS. Even more boring, is my “library routine”. Every 2 months or so, after I renew my 3 books at least a few times, I stop by to pick out my next batch. Usually, I vacillate equally between fiction and non-fiction. But, I’m a total sucker for self-help books and was immediately drawn to Melody Warnick’s This is Where you Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. I took this puppy home supplemented by my guilty pleasure ‘light fiction’.

This isn’t a ‘book review’. I’m actually still reading the book. About half way through, I can tell you it’s great. For anyone who has moved several times (i.e. a “Mover”), you will totally relate to Warnick’s candid and open nature about the trials and tribulations of moving several times. If you are a “Stayer” (i.e. non-Mover), it will probably inspire you to well, just stay where you are. At the start of the book, the author is on move #6. Also, kudos to her for doing it with a husband and children! Her experience towards ‘making roots’ involves several actionable steps including walking around her new city, buying local, and getting to know her neighbors. Her anecdotes are funny and honest, and the research that supplements her personal stories is enlightening. Ok, this is starting to sound like a book review…

So what does this have to do with money and being debt-free? Well, I think this is more of an indirect relationship, but it certainly ties in. I too, like Melody Warnick, have moved several times. In the last decade, I have lived in four cities, Boston, Charlotte, Miami, and now Tampa, but the number of apartments I have lived in is probably at least 3 times that number. Actually, it hurts me head to think about, so I’m just not going to do it. In Miami, I lived in 3 places for a grand total of 3 ½ years. Now in my current city, I’m just trying to be present and not even think about moving. Trying, being the key word here…

Let’s face it, moving can be fun and exhilarating. In fact, I did recently hear that the best time to start new habits is when your environment changes, although the exact source of which I can not recall. I concur anecdotally, as my boyfriend has become an avid brown bag lunch carrier since we moved, where as in Miami he dined out for lunch just about on the daily. Also, the change of scenery means new hang out spots, people to meet, and things to do. On the other hand, moving can be bittersweet. I like to use the analogy of an ex—suddenly you remember all the good, and forget all the bad. Wasn’t there a reason it didn’t work out in the first place? A resounding YES!

While everyone’s reasons for moving are different, hopefully most adults are choosing to move by choice, rather than by force. Obviously, partner’s jobs, other family members, being in the military, among other reasons are all aspects I’m not factoring in here. I certainly recognize that the ability to even make the conscious choice to move about the world is a privilege, and not a right.

But, at the end of the day whether you love it or despise it, moving is COSTLY! If you are a renter like me, there are deposits and numerous fees. Clearly, some  U.S. cities have it way rougher than others, particularly in the major cities where the rent is high and the amenities can often be limited. While I currently paid a relatively small deposit in my current Tampa apartment, I remember my last college apartment in Boston required first month, last month, full month security deposit, + Broker fee. I remember I almost cried writing out the check for what must have been a few thousand of my hard earned dollars working as a nursing assistant. My month to month rent was supplemented by the generosity of my parents and I paid the utilities. Gotta give that credit where it’s due.

For now, I want to commit to the city and neighborhood where I am. I never dreamed or imagined I would live in Tampa, but my current job “ticked” off all the boxes and allowed me to remain in the sunshine state. Weather is a HUGE deal for me. Winter and I, we just don’t get along.

To top it off, I just found out that our rent is not increasing at lease renewal. I’m thrilled to save the cost of packing materials, movers, and all the other inevitable moving costs, and put this extra savings towards my student debt. It seems perhaps that the stars are aligning…I’m definitely a “Mover” at heart, but for now I’m trying to heed the wisdom of the “Stayers” and save some $$ in the process.

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