In very happy news, I am staying in the same apartment for next year. No moving, no worries about finding (and then liking) a new place, no moving, no change of address, and also, no moving. A couple of things fell into place and into my lap to make this happen, and all I can say is that I am so, so grateful.
The weird thing is, I have issues beyond a hatred of moving that have been bugging me since it became crystal clear to me, in late May, that I would have to move. During my last year in D.C. I moved five times, all to different locations around the city. I felt safe in maybe 2 of those places, and they probably aren’t the places you would guess. My worst experience in renting came during the spring semester, 2002, when I lived off campus, first in a house full of strange boys and then in the basement of a house owned by a somewhat strange man. I developed a routine where I would literally stay up all night at the newspaper office and get home between 4 and 7 a.m., so that I was guaranteed not to run into my “roommates” while still being able to go home while it was approaching light out. In one place, I had no heat (January – March) and frequent power disruptions (the fuses were constantly blown by the guy living below me, who, I can only guess from the smell, may have been too high to notice). I learned to track the weather and crashed on other people’s couches when it got below a certain temperature, or when there was going to be a party. My dad came to visit, took one walk through the place, and then went back to the hotel and tried to work out a way for me to stay there for the rest of the semester, because he was so worried. I paid $100 more per month for that room than I do for my entire 2 bedroom place now.
Next, I moved into a room that was part of a basement apartment that two of my friends needed to hold until May. When we toured the place after the lease had been signed, the owner (who had open access to the place and lived right upstairs, with his scary, not-well-housebroken dog) pointed out a window facing the freeway and told us about how someone had broken in within the last six months, run around the apartment for a while, and then walked out the door. I kept seeing that happen at night. Which is all very weird, because it didn’t happen to me, but it scared me as though it had.
So the moral of this story is that, for those five months and then for intermittent times before that, I lived in places where I never felt safe. And that was the worst feeling ever, and it has made me terrified of moving (and has a lot to do with the reasons that I don’t see myself moving back to D.C. anytime in the future, whether or not that’s rational). I love the place I live now because it’s been relatively quiet (I can handle the odd fratboy football expedition in the parking lot) and I’ve never felt unsafe here. I’m comfortable.
I have learned that you can’t predict where you’ll have problems and where you won’t: I had a room in the dorm once, as an RA, where my neighbor was under investigation by the metro police for drug distribution, an investigation that kept them from acting on assault charges against him and made my dozens of complaints against him worthless. I would’ve guessed that, living in that space and having some recognized authority, I’d feel safe and happy, but no. So I’ve looked at some nice apartments around here recently, and I’ve even found places that solve the problems I currently have with where I am (problems of features or amenities, etc.), but nothing is as attractive to me as the known quantity.