The duplex that we rent is extremely affordable. I'm getting that out of the way before the ranting and raving starts. It has 3 bedrooms, a roomy kitchen, decent size dining room and small living room. I have no yard to speak of, but a small brick patio at the end of the driveway to put a table and chairs on. It's on a busy road, but in a decent neighborhood. The landlords live on the other side of the house, and the husband is a pain in the ass. On the upside, they and their children are all hard of hearing, so no one complains if I play the music too loud (except my son, of course). And, the rent includes water.
When we moved here three years ago, I was desperate for a place to go, and desperate to get out of the neighborhood we were in. I was on a string of bad luck, moving from one expensive apartment to another after I had to sell my house. The first apartment we moved to was literally 5 houses up the road from our old house. It was actually pretty roomy, and within walking distance of my son's best buddy. After someone took a shot at the neighbor within 5 minutes of my son and his friend playing in the backyard, however, I decided we needed to move.
At that point, my sister Shouf, and I thought it would be a good idea to combine our resources and move in together. Read about what happened after that here, if you are interested. We only moved a couple of streets over, but it was a better neighborhood. However, less than a year later, the landlords decided to sell the place, and the new owners wanted to live in our apartment.
We took the first place we could find, which was a huge mistake! It was a small third floor walk-up, back in the bad neighborhood we had just left. I didn't feel like I had a whole lot of options. I also didn't let my son out of the house alone after dark after the time he was taking out the garbage and witnessed some kid get his bike stolen out from underneath him by a group of hoodlums.
Yet again, the landlords sold the building. This time, the new owner took the apartment on the second floor, but raised our rent by $175.00 a month! I don't think so! My cousin saw a "for rent" sign on a duplex in her neighborhood and gave me the number. I called, and went to look at the place on my lunch break. It needed a lot of cosmetic work, but was roomy and $50 less a month than what we were paying for a third floor walk-up in the ghetto - before the increase.
I wanted it, and the landlord decided he liked me, didn't show it to anyone else, and didn't run a credit check. The landlord asked me to give him time to fix the place up a little bit, the previous tenant had been there for 8 years, and they hadn't done anything with the place in that time. He asked me what colors I wanted for the bedrooms, and painted two of them for me. I needed to get out of where I was quickly, though, and the previous tenant was dragging his feet getting his stuff out. The day I moved in, the landlord was literally in the kitchen hanging cabinets. He promised me he would get to the bathroom as soon as possible.
I quickly found out that the landlord was not a man of his word. He often doesn't remember things he told me, or promises he made. When I confront him about stuff, his usual refrain is, "if you don't like it, move out". This is usually following a long drawn out lecture during which he turns into my father. Sometimes, there's even yelling.
Considering that we haven't had a lease since the first year, I often don't push the issue. On a month to month "agreement", he can evict me at any time. Although it would take 90 days, it's not something I want to deal with. I'm sick to death of moving, I don't have any plans to move again any time soon, I'm very comfortable here. Even if it is a dump. It is an affordable dump and it is a dump full of our stuff.
6 hours ago