07 February 2013

Housing Update

Moving sucks, even when it's to a wicked cool place like Tokyo.  I just want to get that said and done.

Since last July it seems I've moved every one or two months.  It seems that way because I have.  And I'm tired of it.  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm ready to be stationary for a bit.  Well, not stationary, per se, but I'd like to have a steady home base.  You know; a place where I can keep my things, decorate how I want, and generally just turn into a home.  I thought I'd be doing that when I moved to Mississippi, but that was a bit optimistic since the job I accepted there was specifically for a year long position.  So I moved to Tokyo on the premis that I'm staying for a while-- at least a year but probably two or three.  Even though I moved only two bags full of stuff, it's still moving, and I still loath the process.

I've been in Japan for a month now, and I've already moved twice; first into a guesthouse in Tokyo, then to Fukushima.  In about two weeks I'll be moving back to Tokyo.  But I think I've finally won the battle, at least temporarily.  When I move back to Tokyo I'll move into my new apartment, which has a two year lease.  Yes, you read correctly.  I'm planning to live in one home for two years!  I haven't had a home for that long since I lived with my parents as a child.  What makes it more tantalizing is the thought that I could, technically, stay there for as long as I can renew my visa. I highly doubt that I'll be doing that, but still.  I could.

I've also fallen in love with my apartment.  It's one room, a bathroom, and a "kitchen," which consists of a single gas burner and a sink.  The refrigerator is in the room instead of the kitchen because it can't fit in the kitchen.  The building is old.  This shows the most in the kitchen with worn shelves and grease-stained walls.  BUT it has a glorious selling point: a wonderful wrap-around balcony that probably more than doubles the floor space of the apartment.  And it's in a great neighborhood to boot.

And so I find myself in a bit of a dilemma, which is complicated by my impatience.  I want to be in my new apartment now.  The thought of creating a home for myself-- of really unpacking my bags-- nags me to start the process as soon as I can.  Now!  I'm spending an increasing amount of time online looking at the Google Street View image of my apartment building, wondering how I might arrange my one room, thinking about what furniture I might need (and what could fit), and designing my future container garden that will without a doubt be the envy of the neighborhood.  But then the other side of the equation comes in: I'm incredibly poor and in significant debt.  I can't afford to put a lot of money into my home.  Thankfully, my new job will drastically help alleviate that situation, but again, I want it all now.

And then of course, even if I had boatloads of money, what's a reasonable amount to spend on a home you plan to be in for only two or so years?  What's more important: having my perfect home oasis in the city, or being able to take an extra trip to Cambodia or Vietnam?  Frankly, I want both.

And so I've issued a challenge to myself.  First, be patient.  More importantly, be content.  I'm convinced that is the first step.  It's also the hardest for me.  Second, I've decided not to spend any money on furnishing my home.  My amazing container garden?  Repurposed containers, found seeds, and maybe some dug up wildflowers from the country.  I'm also going to fashion a rain barrel to cut back on watering expenses.  I'll have only as many pots and plants as I can obtain for free.  My furniture?  FreeCycle and dumpster diving.  I've already started to investigate alternative materials like milk crates for creating furniture.  By not spending any money, I feel like I'm killing two birds with one stone.  I'll have clear parameters while I'm creating my home, and it'll be a lot easier to pack up and leave knowing I didn't spend much or any money while I lived there.  I'm looking forward to updating you on this process, and I'm always open to ideas!

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