Trading off, not always trading UP

Just found the cutest house about 10 minutes south of where I am now.

It’s a little higher (about $200 a month) than I want to pay. But $350 less than I’m paying now.

Ding ding ding, could this be a winner?

Depends on whether I hear back from the rental agent, of course.

I ran into my rental-office queen today. She’s been chasing me about my lease renewal and she said she knows I’m unhappy and wants to help me to be happy.

She told me about all the upcoming renovations (*presume I’m making whacking-off gestures*) and how she got rid of the inept maintenance man. I said look, the only cosmetic improvement made to this place in the four years I’ve lived here was when they forcibly removed the Evil Landlady. And who wants to live through construction, assuming it ever starts and actually would get finished — which NEVER happens around this place?

She said we could negotiate on the rent increase. Which, I’m intrigued by and said I’d think about. Because, as I told her, I’m not in a hurry to pay more for a whole lot of nothing.

I told her about the past couple of years, about having the high-paying jobs and then the no-paying jobs and now being in something that pays less and I’m just trying to make ends meet in the same ZIP code.

I didn’t tell her about getting my taxes done today and seeing my 2011-to-2012 income comparison. I mean, it looks great on paper — I doubled my salary over that time frame. But if we look at 2010-to-2011, I made a THIRD of what I should have. So, do your own math if you must, but I’m just depressed in general right now.

This all got me to thinking about one of my best friends from D.C. who hightailed it out of town a few years before I did the same. We used to say that changing jobs was really an exercise in “trading bad for bad.” You exchange one hideous element (i.e., working for crackheads) in exchange for another (i.e., taking home less money). You don’t ever really win — you just count yourself lucky to stay in the race.

In any event, we will leave the “trading the Panic Room for the Boob Bounce House for the Market Outhouse for the Alligator Farm” discussion for when I’m ready to live on the streets.

(It will be a hell of a discussion, though!)

But we will apply it to apartment-hunting today and say, OK, I will give up the Intracoastal views and direct ocean access in exchange for MORE SPACE (read: an extra bedroom to hide mom’s stunning cardboard-box collection) and slightly more money in my pocket.

That’s trading good for good, yes, but it’s a shame you always have to sacrifice SOMETHING in order to get SOMETHING ELSE you want.

I just wish life were less about trading OFF and more about trading UP.

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