On the first month (or two)

Mar 10, 2013 | 5 minutes read

Tags: blog

Apartment hunting in Boston is nuts. No doubt I’m particularly obsessive about finding the right apartment, but Boston being one of the most densely populated and oldest cities in the US, quality tends to suffer.

The one that got away
The one that got away
I saw a total of 18 properties over a period of 3 weeks, spending every spare moment on Craigslist trying to find a place. Of those 18 places, 3 fell through my fingers – either snapped up, or pulled from the market. One was particularly annoying – a 1 bedroom well within budget with a stunning views of the Boston Skyline. Without even the slightest hint of bitterness (bastards), I decided to take on a skyline view, and try improving on it. I ended up viewing a property in a building which helps define said skyline, an apartment in the Waterfront district of downtown Boston. It took my budget, chewed on it a bit, and spat it back out in tatters – but it was in the most amazing location possible, and it’s now my home!

View from the living room View from the living room I’ve moved to Harbor Towers, a skyscraper apartment complex on the water next to the New England Aquarium. My unit is on the 4th floor (prices grow exponentially the higher you go). No doubt, the view is a little compromised – the New England Aquarium blocks a little of what would otherwise be a panoramic of Boston Harbor, but it’s still stunning. Harbor Towers is in a little known district of Boston technically called the Waterfront district, but generally lumped in with the Financial District. The district is packed with business folk during the day, but turns quiet by night. This suits me perfect – the bustling North End is a 5 minute walk. Harbor Towers is just off Atlantic Avenue, which was my favorite part of downtown Boston when I visited in September. Bordered by some of Boston’s tallest buildings (..proper skyscrapers!),  Atlantic Avenue is the site of the old elevated expressway. A project called The Big Dig tore down this expressway, sunk it underground, along with a huge portion of the cities budget – but the end result is stunning. It’s a green beltway that intersects a western corridor through the city, with a variety of small gardens and fountains along the way.

Sunrise (..as seen from bed)
Sunrise (..as seen from bed)
The apartment itself is a massive one bedroom – some 800 square foot, with four storage cupboards each easily the size of a small bathroom. The living room and bedroom have 3/4 length windows featuring water views, and I’ve arranged all the furniture to make the most of this.

*Sunrise seen from living room*

Living in this location, and staying within budget has had some compromises, however. The kitchen clearly hasn’t been updated since the 1970’s, and to operate the faucets at correct temperature requires adjustments with the dexterity of a safe cracker. Still, pretty minor complaints! Oh, and have I mentioned it’s still tear jerkingly expensive, even when accustomed to Dublin rent prices?

I’ve furnished the apartment with a mixture of second hand furniture from Craigslist, and Ikea’s cheapest finest. Needless to say, the emphasis is on contemporary, and for this Ikea is undeniably awesome. Next month will hopefully see some finishing touches – a TV, more lighting, and some photos of mine of home:

Doolin Sunset _MG_7956 _MG_4100

(Clockwise from top left): Doolin at Sunset printed poster size, Sherkin Island from Baltimore Beacon, Doo Lough and of course the essential Fastnet Lighthouse.

Speaking of finances, moving country is quite stressful, and incredibly expensive. Thus far, it’s cost me easily $4k more than I’d budgeted (and remember – second hand furniture!). Maybe in a separate post, I’ll outline some experiences in getting set up with a bank, cell phone provider, purchasing a car, and dealing with the real estate market.

Of course, my apartment doesn’t come with parking – I’ve rented the more affordable $125 ‘reverse commuter’ parking. This means on work days, I need to be gone by 10am and can’t park again until after 4pm. This also means if I want to work from home, it will cost me an extra $35. Still,  anything beats paying $400/mo for a dedicated space. The garage is part of the complex of a swanky hotel, with valet staff and doormen. Walking through the plush lobby wearing a hoodie, zero fucks given, is a lot of fun! Speaking of parking, I’ve also ditched the rental and bought a car to put in said space. It’s a 2004 Audi Allroad 2.7t, and it’s.. Grand. I mean, It’s a very comfortable place to be. The cabin, as typical with Audi, is much better finished than any BMW. For a big comfortable family car, it drives well – it grips, and it’s moderately fun.

Audi Allroad 2.7t
Audi Allroad 2.7t
It certainly doesn’t drive like a biturbo – it’s quick, at times. It’s certainly respectable. But coming from an M3, it’s not particularly exciting – just ‘acceptable’. Since I now live right in the heart of a city, if it wasn’t for our office being so inaccessible by transport, I think I’d gladly do without a car. This doesn’t sound like petrol head Cian  talking, but living in a city with acceptable public transport negates any real need. For anything that needs a car, there’s Zipcar, and Hertz for further excursions. I’m no longer driving something that has any sense of occasion, and it might be some time before I can afford to do so again. I’m slowly coming to terms with this grade A ‘first world problem’ dilema. Since moving, a number of people have asked me if I’ve had any doubts, or any second thoughts. The answer is definitely a resounding, emphatic no. I’ve come across a number of defining features of Boston  big and small which have reaffirmed my decision to move, and I’m glad I did! Granted, I’m only here a wet week – let’s see what the next year brings!