Saturday, October 18, 2008

In the Air

I found an apartment today that is very promising. In fact, I told the landlord that I'll probably take it. I want to, but I'm unsure because it does not include heat/hot water and it's an apartment in a house. It does have new windows though, as well as a new hot water heater-so that is good.

The apartment is on a quiet one way street on the first floor of a house. It's got a huge kitchen with a built in china cabinet with glass paned windows. I love that. Also, the tenant that just moved out was a carpenter and he built an island with a dark brown wooden top. He put it on top of the cabinets that were already there, so the bottom part isn't beautiful, but the top sure is. It's great too, because I could easily get 2 stools and use it as a table as well.

The living room is a bit smaller than the one I have now, and it is carpeted instead of hard wood floors. I really love my floors. It's got a big closet though, and that's a plus. The bedroom does have the wood floors and is bigger than my current one-it's big enough for a desk to be added in there and the closet is quite big, as opposed to my little weird triangle closet I have now. The two big pluses to this apartment is the bonus room and the storage closet.

The bonus room is small-not quite big enough to be a bedroom, but it's great for an office or maybe even a futon-but for sure it'd be great office space. The storage unit is under the stairs and it quite big. It would enable me to bring most of my catering stuff from my parents house, as well as keep lots of things stored that I have strategically hidden now.

Another bonus is that I can paint the rooms whatever colors I want. AND it's got free parking on a one way street, a little backyard with a bend to read on and even a tiny plot for me to plant herbs (he knows I am a chef and told me I could use it for that.) I drove past the place tonight to see how the block looked in the dark and to hear if it was loud or crowded. It was neither, which is a good sign.

My worries-I don't know how to even estimate how much my utilities would be. I don't want to get into the apartment and find out that I'm paying MORE than I am now. I can't handle that. As it is, if I stay here I am giving up my parking space. The land lord doesn't know how to average the utilities because he just replaced the windows and got the new heater-and hasn't had a tenant since then. They are gas utilities, which is a plus but apparently not as huge a plus as it used to be.

I'd also lose my view, and be far away from a T-there is a bus route there though and the village is very cute.

So-to any of my local Boston/Allston/Brighton readers who any of YOU pay for heat/hot water? If so, care to share how much it averages per month? I'd really like to take this apartment because of the kitchen and the potential it has for dinner parties and such-but I'm really nervous about the $$!?!?!


Melisa said...

Hey Mags, I could be mistaken, but I think that you can call the utilities companies to find out what the average monthly bill is for that address. Even if they gave you the whole house, you could estimate better...

GoteeMan said...

Sounds like a winner, just for the free parking!

J/ (

Lois Grebowski said...

I'm a sucker for a good kitchen...That's the MAIN room of the house for me.

Mo said...

It sounds like a good place for you.
I think the positives outweigh the negatives by far.
And even though there are new amenities, you can get averages from the utility companies that you can use as a guideline.
Plus, with new windows and a new furnace, you should be able to control the rates better.
I think it's a good idea. The office and space for your catering items will hopefully help you in furthering that part of your life, which I know will be a great asset!

Bond said...

Melissa said exactly what I was about to. call the Utility company and ask...they can give you an average cost for the past year.

Clancy in Idaho said...

Go, Mags, go!!! I say do it! Call the utilities first, but go for it! :)

Boston Gal said...

As others have said, all you need is the address and unit number. You can then call National Grid, NStar, Keyspan, etc. and ask about the history for the unit. They should be able to give you the 12 month average as well as the high and then low (generally they give you a peak summer and a peak winter reading).

The thing to be aware of that the utility company can't tell you is if the previous tenant was cold blooded and home a lot and liked to pump the heat or the opposite - gone all the time, kept the thermostat low and used the heat sparingly. Same for the electric - so your milage will very much vary from that standpoint.

One thing you can look for and you do mention is things like new windows, programmable thermostat, weather stripping around doors, etc. Basically, does it have doors that open directly from outside into unit or is there a vestibule or hallway? How old is the fridge? An 80's fridge will cost $10 - $15 per month more to run than a newer energy efficient model.

As a tenant who pays for your own utilities, you have to pay attention to the efficiencies of the apartment. Some things you can control - like installing honeycomb or insulating shades on the windows, installing CFL lightbulbs, and learning to use the programmable thermostat, turning the temperature down to 120 on the hot water heater, etc.

Other things you have to rely on your landlord - like having a programmable thermostat instead of a manual one - etc.

AnnaB said...

I pay for my own heat and have oil heat. This year it comes out to $265/month or $3100 for the year.

Legally Brunette said...

I second (fifth?) the suggestion to call the utility companies for last year's usage averages. I have a two bedroom apartment in a two family house in Brighton - I would estimate our gas heat to range between $150 and 250 for the winter months (December through March).

Me said...

I have a large two bedroom, third floor of a triple decker, awesome place, however, 100 year old house...insulation? Uhm. No. Heating bill in a cold month: $250-280...probably more this year.

Suldog said...

We have two bedrooms, four rooms total, in Watertown. Gas heat (and that includes a gas stove) comes to about $113 a month when averaged.

betty.noir said...

I'm here via Universal Hub, and I have to warn you: about 6 years ago, I was living in a beautiful older building like the you describe (specifically a mid-century triple-decker house), and during the winter months, the heating bill could be as high as $900 a month, averaging about $400. And this is before the price of oil and gas got so inflated. Now, that's in part because it was a pretty big apartment with ancient (but pretty!) windows; I also suspect we were paying for the landlord's mother's heat in the downstairs apartment.

Ever since then, I've been incredibly serious about only considering places with newer fully weather-sealed windows, and lucky that my current and previous apartments both have heat included!

So my advice: if the windowframes are shiny metal/plastic, go for it; if they're wood, be hesitant. And if it's still too good to resist, make friends with weatherstripping gunk (brown gummy stuff you shove in the cracks around the window that saved my sister about $150/month in heating bills).