Pack and Buy

We’re moving in less than a week. I am only panicking a little bit.

Well, panicking isn’t the right word. Obsessing probably is.

For the record, we’re in pretty good shape. I’ve sold everything we needed to sell. (Oh! Did I tell you I sold our dining set? Well…I did.) More than half of our stuff is boxed up. And the hubs has Thursday and Friday off of work this week to start moving things.

I’m sort of hoping once he transports everything that is packed, it will make the stuff that’s not yet packed seem more manageable.

Side note: Is it me, or is packing one of the hardest things in the world to focus on? I swear, I get three or four boxes in, and I am wiped out. My friend Erin explained it pretty well that you get mentally exhausted from having to make so many decisions. Which is probably why packing things like books and dishes is easy, but wading through the mess of our bedroom has taken me two weeks.

Side question: I feel like I’ve asked this before, but is there a thrift store service that will pick up stuff from your house? I seem to remember that Salvation Army used to do this. Is it still a thing? Because I have a pile of stuff to get rid of. (Unless anyone I know is planning on having a garage sale soon? In which case, I have some stuff to contribute.)

Anyway. Packing sucks. On to happier topics.

I bought the rug for our bedroom! I used a 50-percent-off-plus-free-shipping coupon code (WINT50, if anyone else is in the market for a RugsUSA.com rug) and my parents got it for us as an anniversary gift. Awesome, right?

Second side note: Joey and I have been married for almost two years. Wacky.

I’m excited to get the rug mostly because it takes me one step closer to accomplishing my grown-up apartment goals of having a put-together bedroom. Next up, new bedding, possibly new curtains, and an artwork project. (Stay tuned.)

Here’s a list of everything else I would like to acquire/update at some point in the new place (in order of urgency):

1. Free-standing closet/armoire. Our bedroom closet is teensy. Considering right now our clothes are spread out between two closets, we need a bit more storage.

2. A small dining table. I really like the IKEA Docksta tulip table, and I’ve seen it on Craigslist a few times, I just need to get back in the apartment an measure to make sure everything will fit. Really, though, is be fine with almost any small white table.

3. White kitchen pantry. We have a couple of these right now, but they’re a light wood color and they’re pretty banged up at this point. I’d like a white melamine version for the kitchen for a bit more storage.

4. Storage coffee table. This is the least urgent furniture need, though of course more storage is always helpful. I’d like either a Crate & Barrel Hunter Trunk (if I can find one on Craigslist…no way am I spending over $600 on a coffee table) or a white table with drawers.

5. White bedding. I will have a grown up bed if it kills me. Fortunately, Homegoods seems to have a few options at very reasonable prices.

6. White IKEA picture frames and lamps. Because it’s all in the details, right?

So, six-ish things. That’s not bad at all, right? It’s definitely easier setting up an apartment this time around, when I have a better idea what I like and how we live.

What’s next on your home shopping list? I know I can’t be the only one with one of these things…

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How to: Be Good at Craigslist

You guys. I don’t want to brag (especially because I know that the second I do, this will stop being true)(rhyme!!!), but I am pretty dang good at Craigslist.

In the last couple of weeks, I have bought and sold about six pieces of furniture, which will make moving easier (sayonara, mammoth china cabinet) and make our new apartment prettier (he-llo, gorgeous leaning bookshelves from Crate & Barrel). Here’s a quick round-up of my favorite success stories:

1. Bar cart from Crate & Barrel
Original price: It’s not on the site anymore, but given the price of similar ones they have listed, I would guess at least $125.
Price paid: $25

We picked this baby up from a chic apartment building in one of the most desirable areas of Brooklyn. (Was the guy we bought it from wealthy? Put it this way: He had a doorman who was exactly what you would get if you combined Arthur and Lucius and who when we said who we were there to see told us to “knock because of the baby.” You know you’ve made it when you have a doorman who knows your personal life despite living in a 15-story building.)

The guy was nice as can be and had two adorable 6-month-old twins. He was obviously just selling the rack because it was easier than throwing it out, and his lack of concern about money was our thrifty gain.

Lesson #1: Try searching by the names of brands you like. I wasn’t actively searching for a bar cart (even though we would need something like this eventually), but searching for “Crate and Barrel” brought me treasure.

2. Black bookshelves from IKEA
Original price: They’re about $90 each on IKEA currently, but I’m pretty sure they were on sale when my roommates and I bought two of them almost four years ago.
Sold for: $90 for both, including delivery.

I listed these at $40 each, but a woman offered me $70 for them both and I took it. (I am always willing to engage in a reasonable haggle.) When she came to pick them up, though, she only had a small car and they didn’t fit. I offered to drop them off at her house the next day, and she threw in an extra $20. Win-win.

Lesson #2: Craigslist is supposed to be like a community. So if you’re polite an neighborly, you might end up getting more money than you even planned to charge.

3. Leaning bookshelves from Crate & Barrel
Original price: $130 each
Price paid: I’m getting two for about $100 total.

I wanted to find two slim, ladder-style shelves like the ones at the link above, but I wanted white ones. Target had a version for $80 each, but I really wanted to thrift something and I was confident I could find a better price (and quality) with a little patience.

Then yesterday, I found two sellers that were each selling one white leaning shelf from C&B. I contacted them both and offered each $50 (they were asking for $75 and $100 respectively). Both agreed (one of them actually turned out to be a girl from work who is moving to California…small world), and we picked them up on Wednesday.

Lesson #3: Patience is a virtue. (Although Joey might argue that I’m not that patient. He has asked me to please not buy anymore furniture until after we officially move.)

4. Coral rug
Original price: It’s now listed for over $200, but I paid around $90 because it was on sale and I had a coupon.
Sold for: $60

I was honestly starting to think this rug would be my downfall in terms if my Craigslist success. I’ve been trying to sell it for a couple of months, but people are understandably skeptical of purchasing fabric-based goods on Craigslist. So even though we only really used it for about a month, it was hard to convey just how good of condition it was in on a (sometimes sketchy) website.

I lowered my price and renewed my listing last week without much hope it would sell.

And then — here’s where a choir of angels starts singing — I go an email from a woman who wanted to put it in her kid’s playroom. She haggled a bit, and honestly I was nervous she would turn into one of those Craigslist phantoms that says they want your stuff and then just vanishes into the night. But she didn’t. And she even emailed me for follow-up information because her aunt loved the rug and wanted to see more pictures. And she’s coming to get it on Sunday.

AND I’M THRILLED.

Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to lower your price. The alternative is just donating the item for free, so any gain is still a gain.

Bonus Lesson #5: Take time with your ad. I always try to write them in a business-like-but-friendly voice. I want shoppers to know I’m legit — a real person who probably takes good care of her stuff.

In the same vein, don’t just post crappy photos you snapped in the dark with your phone camera. It’s just like selling an apartment on Craigslist; clean it up, use good lighting, style it a bit. I always try to include one atmosphere shot of the item in my home (another reason why taking photo tours of your home at its best is a good idea.

So those are the big transactions so far. All I have left to sell is our dining room table and chairs, so hopefully we can move those pretty quickly. Our move-in date is most likely going to be the last week of March, but I just need to get the old table unloaded before April 1st. Wish me luck!

What are come of your favorite Craigslist lessons and tricks?

Moving update.

I guess this is just a post to tell you that packing/moving hasn’t killed me yet.

Let’s have a little moving update, shallll we?

Well, the lease is officially signed, so that’s good. Today I should find out when we can actually get into the place. So that’s good.

As for our stuff, I’m continuing in my goal of moving with the least amount of stuff possible. We had already sold the china cabinet and the bookshelves. Last night, I put our desk and our dining room table and chairs on Craigslist. We already have another desk, and we’ll need a smaller table (I’m hoping to thrift something). I actually got an email about the desk this morning, so hopefully that works out.

The only other piece of furniture I could see us selling would be our couch. Not because it wouldn’t fit, but because we would have more room if we got a smaller one. But we haven’t officially made our minds up about that one yet. (Besides, I have a really good streak going of selling almost everything I out up. Why would I ruin that?)

I’ve also started boxing the stuff we are taking with us. It’s a rather arduous ordeal, but I do feel good about the growing pile of stuff I’ve separated out to donate. This will be the year of limited clutter. Simplifying feels good.

I can’t wait until I have actual pictures of the apartment to show you! Someday…

New Apartment, New Look

We’re signing the lease for our new apartment today. I think we all know what that means.

Time to start thinking about decorating it!!!

(Come on, you guys. It’s a new apartment; same old me.)

Obviously, I’ve started to put together a bit of inspiration for the rooms. Let’s start with the bedroom since it has the longest way to go:

Neutral Bedroom

Basically, I love this. But my main concern is that it feels a bit too…neutral.

As I’ve said, a grown-up bedroom is one of my main new apartment goals, and I think this definitely fits the bill, but…it’s missing something, right? I’m hoping some of my more decor-savvy readers will chime in here. An accent color maybe? You can get an idea about the colors I use in the rest of our apartment here.

Anyway. We already have the bed (and a matching dresser) and the mirror, but everything else would be new. The main things I need to complete this look are that gorgeous rug (might actually be purchasing that very soon), white lamps, fluffy white bedding, and the curtains (though I actually already have some fabric that could maybe fit the bill). Oh, and some picture frames.

So…what am I missing?

Good news.

You guys. I know where I’m living in three weeks.

That’s right; we found an apartment! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Lets all exhale one collective sigh of relief, shall we? Phew.

I mean, it’s not like I thought we would never find a place. It was just really stressful searching, and I was concerned that we would just never find anything we loved and then we’d run out of time and have to settle for something that was just okay.

But, you guys, I really think I love this place.

I say think because when we saw it, it was being completely renovated. So it will have new floors, a brand new kitchen and bathroom, and re-plastered walls. But while I can’t be exactly sure what it will look like when it’s done, I have a pretty good idea from the other apartments in that building we saw. And, honestly, it’s a gamble I’m willing to take for a brand new apartment.

Alas, though, I don’t have any pictures for you yet. But I promise to post a bunch as soon as I do.

For now, we’re continuing to pack and sell off furniture we won’t need in the new place. I sold the china cabinet, our chunky bookshelves I want to replace with something slimmer to take up less space, and now I think I want to sell one of our desks. We might also end up replacing the dining room table, but I have to do some measuring first to make sure it won’t fit if we take the leaf out.

Anyway. Just thinking out loud again.

Thank you for putting up with my crazy while this all got figured out. And for those of you who live in Astoria…watch out. We’re coming for ya.

Obsessed.

Last night. I had a dream I was viewing an apartment. I may have a disease.

But seriously. I realize the apartment hunt is all I can talk about (and, let’s be honest, think about). I’d like to tell you I’m going to chill out about it, but I also like not lying to your beautiful faces.

Plus, I don’t know, I feel like ensuring we have a place to live in three weeks is an okay thing to obsess over a bit.

In the name of OPTIMISM, I can tell you that we’ve switched tactics a bit. Inspired by the lovely Emilia’s suggestion (and, okay, my husband’s subtle requests to look at apartments there) we are officially focusing on Astoria. Why was I resisting Astoria? I don’t know. People who live there seem to love it. And, you guys. You can get so much more for your money. So that’s the new plan.

I’m hopeful that we’ll have a place by the end of the week. Please think good, apartment-finding thoughts for me.

ANYWAY. Once we actually find the place, the fun part can begin. And of corse I mean fun for me because I’m talking about decorating the place.

Hopefully once that starts, my posts will stop sounding so crazed. (Probably not.)

Everything I hate about apartment hunting in New York.

1. Everything is rushed.

You would think that when you’re making a decision that will dramatically affect your life and finances for at least the next year of your life, it would be a decision you’d want to labor over for a bit.

WRONG.

When it comes to the New York City rental market, fortune favors the impulsivequick-thinking. Because odds are that if you even think you want that apartment, there are at least five other people who definitely want it. Like, yesterday.

2. There are too many and yet not enough options.

We all know I have problems with contentment. Which is why I have such a hard time being like, yes! This is the one. Because what if there’s a better/bigger/cheaper apartment out there? Or will be in a day or two? WHAT IF THIS IS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE?

You really can’t think like this. I know that, but it can be hard to remember sometimes. That’s when it’s helpful to remember that this is only a 1-year lease.

But even though there are always other fish in the seaapartments in Brooklyn, the aforementioned rushed atmosphere of the hunt can make you feel like maybe there just aren’t enough affordable good ones to go around.

3. Most brokers are the worst people you’ve ever met.

In the last week, I have encountered two “adults” whom I have wanted to punch in the face. We all know I have issues with people who don’t do their jobs, and when it comes to brokers, it drives me even crazier because they have zero motivation for not doing their jobs. You don’t get paid if I don’t get an apartment. Why are you so horrible?

That being said, there are some good brokers. It’s just hard to find the ones who straddle the line between lazy and pushy.

4. Everything is just so expensive.

I never dislike living in New York quite as much as when I’m looking for an apartment.

The other day, I typed what we’re looking to pay out here into a Des Moines Craigslist search, and guess what? I couldn’t even find an apartment over $900 a month. (My readers who live in New York will find that amusing. My Midwestern readers will probably to a spit-take and say, “You mean you can in New York?”)

The fact that I’m spending more on rent than a lot of people do on a mortgage is not lost on me. This I why I will never have a house in New York.

There are a bunch of other little reasons why I hate this process, but I think I’ve whined enough for now.

If you live in the NYC area and know of an apartment that’s opening up, give me a shout. I’ll be the one weeping as she scrolls through Street Easy listings.