The joy of...a furnished apartment

By Emily Feldman  | November 8, 2011 - 2:18PM

I've lived in furnished apartments before -- university housing at college, furnished shares during stints in other cities. But whenever I find myself browsing for a long-term home, I automatically disqualify anything that comes with a bed and desk, tables and couches; anything that might require me to throw out or store something I already own, and might one day need.

Somewhat unexpectedly, though, I now find myself in a long-term commitment with a furnished apartment.  Even more unexpectedly, I've decided that I love this arrangement so much that, for the foreseeable future, I will no longer rent something that doesn't come fully-loaded. That I will not pay for -- or worse, drive -- a moving truck, spend money on a couch, haul a mattress up stairs or buy beer for whoever does it for me.

I owe this all to the sudden, but very cool job opportunity that sent my boyfriend overseas and allowed me to take over his Brooklyn share. We had been living about 10 blocks apart for the eight months we had been together. Both of us had roommates -- I lived in a 3-bedroom share and paid $750, while he lived with one other roommate in a much nicer duplex, paying $875.

When the time came for him to move, he was so frenzied with the task of setting up a new life in London that we agreed it would be easier for both of us if I just took over his place as it was; kitchen stocked with his cookware; bedroom filled with his just-bought Ikea furniture.

The move wasn't completely painless -- it took about five hours, mostly spent hauling my furniture three flights down to the curb. But once that was done, it was easier than any move I had made since college -- two trips in a Jeep Cherokee, and I was done.

Sure, the move out will be filled with long distance calls pertaining to the fate of all the items that ultimately still belong to my boyfriend. In the meantime, I'm realizing that furnished places really suit someone like me: someone kind of stingy when it comes to investing in living space and somewhat lazy when it comes to dealing with aesthetic tasks, like running wires behind large items instead of over or around them.

When my boyfriend set up his (now my) bedroom, he strategically placed lamps around the room -- one by the bed, one on the desk, and another in a dim corner near the closet. Since I'm apartment-stingy and on a lifelong quest to be a sort of minimalist, I'd never consider buying three lamps for a room that already comes with overhead lighting. But now that I've experienced the bedtime delight of turning off the light without having to get out from under the covers, I really appreciate what he was thinking when he was placing lamps around the room. The same goes for the room's seating options. Stray chair next to the closet? I'd never have done it. Do I now use it and appreciate it every time I put on a pair of tights, or shoes? Yes.

Part of the appeal of a furnished place that's also been road-tested by the person who furnished it is that future tenants needn't waste so much time on trial and error.

In past apartments it took a few weeks of living before I realized that I need extra lighting here, perhaps a rug over there. Here, everything was seamless. And that's really the point of renting a furnished apartment -- you can just quickly unpack and keep on living without having to turn your schedule upside down to take trips to Ikea or the hardware store.

A furnished place also allows you to enjoy lots of nice things without having the burden of ownership. 

I've always wanted a wider assortment of pots, pans and glassware, but I'd never buy these things. It all goes back to my fear of having to pack it all up and move or store it. So instead, I've always gone the cheap, hand-me-down, or more often, do-without route, which has left me in often sparse, mismatched apartments.

But now (assuming my boyfriend, landlord and current roommate all agree that I can complete my furnished apartment fantasy and leave everything when I move out) I can have all the fun without the long-term commitment -- serve wheat beer in a tall glass because I can, make a shake because I have a blender, read in bed on a cold night because I don't have to get up to turn the lights off, and abandon it all when I go.

And that might be the best part: leaving it all behind, packing a few bags, and arriving at the next place -- whether that's in London, Brooklyn or somewhere else -- and finding that it's already set up, already anticipating my needs, already making me look like a more put-together person with enough rented flatware and decor to proudly host guests.

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