Wednesday, June 17, 1998

Cheap Apartments with Bats
By Guy Nerad (

A couple of years ago, in my last semester of college, I had a short, crazy-haired, quirky professor who was full of irrelevant stories. I remember only one of his lessons. He said "You have to invest because you are all engineers and you can't make money at being an engineer. So, if you want to invest, find a cheap place to live." That was the moral of the lesson: Find a cheap place to live and invest heavily. Well, that is my version of what he said; his was much longer.

Then I got out of college, went straight into engineering, and forgot all about the silly old professor. For a new grad, it was a high-paying position, something to be admired. My friends were going into forestry and archeology, so I was happy that all my hard work in college was going to be paid off with Money from a Big Job.

With my Big Job, I got a luxury apartment. I deserved it, and I worked hard for it. It had all the necessities: beautiful architecture, carpeting, sauna, gym, dishwasher, washer/dryer, spa, and three gorgeous blondes managing the apartment complex. Hey, Mom! Looky what I can afford!

But the novelty only lasted a short while. The walls got dirty, the carpeting had gum in it, the sauna didn't get hot, the gym's equipment was rickety, the dishwasher was never used (alright, that was probably my fault), the washer/dryer was too small to hold my clothes, the spa was closed, the blondes were married, and golly was it expensive. I kept watching my hard-earned money disappear. I was never going to be able to invest with this kind of obligation. I wondered, how is it possible that the average American family gets by with less than my salary?

Duh, they don't rent Luxury Apartments.

That's when I met Eleanor, a wonderful women who rents cheap property with none of the extras. I went to inspect my future apartment. It had small cabinets, no dishwasher, not even a washer/dryer. It had some brick walls for character, it had a balcony that overlooked the woods, and it had some live bats. What? Yep, there were two furballs with wings and fangs clinging to the wall of the living room. I went to Eleanor. "I like the apartment. I'll take it, but [sheepishly] there are bats in the living room."

Eleanor smiled back at me, "We don't charge for those."

In the end, I am paying half of what I was paying before. I love my property management, though I have no swimsuit edition fantasies about them (sorry Eleanor). I wash all my clothes at once in huge commercial washing machines of the local laundromat. Most importantly, I can invest. Woohoo!

Even without the extra cash lying around, I don't feel like I am being taken anymore. After all, it's just a place to live. Especially in the early stages of adulthood, I don't need the Ritz. So, here is the moral to my irrelevant story: Invest all you can, listen to your teachers, and rent apartments with free bats.

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