Recently, Karen and I have noticed that the apartment complex in which we live has been experiencing a large number of vacancies. It’s been my personal experience that, when your management begins placing large banners at the entrance for “move-in specials” and “referral specials,” you may be in trouble, because they begin to lower the bar of what applications they accept, in order to keep up their revenue stream.

And by “lower the bar,” I mean “admit more students who are fresh out of their dorm rooms and have no clue how to interact with civilized society yet.” Insert loud music, screamed obscenities from the parking lot, and late night parties from the neighbors here.

Personally, I love our apartment. Granted that the rent is a bit exorbitant for the area, but that’s because of the afore-mentioned difficulty keeping tenants. It’s a vicious cycle, I think, which is marked by two complete turn-overs in the management staff in as many years. Troubling.

Another piece of wisdom I’ve picked up from apartment living: as soon your management staff changes, move out at the end of that lease. The ship is going down fast.

Back to the point, though. We have a grand apartment, complete with an upstairs and a garage. I have my writing/creative space, we have plenty of room for the three of us, and it’s designed to be environmentally friendly, complete with a skylight for plenty of natural lighting. These apartments were premiere living arrangements in this area for a long time, and there were a great deal of young professionals, families, and quiet students here when we moved in. Now, not so much. And I have a theory as to why.

There are no fewer than seven colleges or universities in this relatively small city. As such, there is a huge market for students who want to live off campus. Thus, more apartment complexes are being built on a regular basis. Granted, they are cookie-cutter in the South, but they’re always going up, with some individualized conveniences, and multiple move-in specials are constantly around. So, I think that students are always moving to the next cool thing, partially for the financial break that comes with a move-in special.

Thus, difficulty for any one place in keep tenants, as what was once the premiere apartment space is now replaced for the next big thing.

I guess I don’t understand this, in a way. I’m as content as I was when we moved into this apartment three years ago, at least as far as the apartment itself is concerned. I have trouble finding anyone I know who has lived in an apartment that long, though. I’m having issues with the people moving in around us, but I still love our apartment, and will sort of miss it when we leave the area soon.

I guess I do understand it, though, as far as how badly I tend to want the next cool toy, the next operating system for my Mac, the latest gadget that seems super appealing to me. Perhaps it’s the same impulse, but I just don’t experience it with living arrangements.

Whether it’s me with toys, or other tenants with apartments, though, I see the same underlying issue: we get bored way too easily. Moreover, we become discontented way too easily. I think that this is because there’s an entire discipline of study and practice that specializes in making us discontent: marketing. We’re easily swayed by psychological methods to think that life will be better if we have the next toy, a better home, a cooler car. This is a boon for industries, and a bust for the individual, because it drives us to always spend more money, thus harming ourselves and making it progressively difficult for any business to build any loyalty among its customers.

And we wonder how we arrived at a recession.

Photo Attribution: Jill Clardy 


  1. Wow, that’s a really great observation about being discontent! I think one of the keys to happiness is being content with what you have, and it’s something I strive for daily. I LOVE where we live, although I know many people who would hate the 70’s style look, old cupboards, and other such stuff, but our neighborhood is nice and quiet and safe. We plan on being here for at least 3 or 4 more years, if not more – until my husband goes to grad school and we move somewhere else. Still, for now, I am content with most of what we have. I just keep wanting to upgrade stuff like my computer and some of our furniture. There’s always something, right? 🙂

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