Stuck in a House You Hate? Here’s How to Make It Bearable

It’s no secret that I kind of hate where I live. Nearly 10 years ago, my now husband and I moved into a rental townhouse, where we started our lives together as a new couple. Within 3 months of moving in, however, we discovered mold. And since then, we’ve discovered mold numerous times and in numerous places.

But with the lack of alternative affordable places to live and the high cost of moving itself, we can’t afford to move.

Whatever situation you’re in, if you hate where you live but cannot move, there are things you can do to make your home tolerable until you can find something better.

What Works In Your Current Home?

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There’s got to be something about your home that you like. Something that made this the best place to live when you first picked it. (Assuming that you did choose to live there, that is.)

Think back to when you first saw your home. What made you excited to move in?

I remember loving how light and bright our place was – and then we painted the living room walls a dark color, added dark black-out curtains, and complained about how dark it was. So when our landlords were in to fix the mold issues, we asked them to paint our walls white again. Between that and a new set of curtains, it made our living room that much better.

You can probably do something similar to make your current home at least slightly more livable.

What Doesn’t Work in Your Current Home?

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This might be easier to answer than the last question, but take some time to really think about it.

Keep a mental list (or hey, why not an actual list?) of the things that make you hate where you live and what you want for housing in the future.

Instead of saying, “This layout sucks,” – be specific. What sucks about it? Is the bathroom too far away from the bedrooms? Maybe there is no room to move around in the kitchen? Or is the storage room too inaccessible (or, in our case, non-existent)?

Maybe it’s the neighborhood’s livability or the community’s size that you don’t like. You currently live in a big city, but would like to settle down in the suburbs, where there is a low crime rate, a better school system, and lower property taxes. Or you live in a small town and want to live in a walkable metropolitan area with better job opportunities, a lower unemployment rate, and public transportation.

You may not be able to change these things in your current place, but when the time comes for you to move again, you know exactly what you’re looking for and what you’re not. Hopefully, this will help you avoid getting stuck in yet another place that you don’t want to be in.

Change What You Can

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Not too long ago, I was given the advice to “focus on what you can control.” I’ve tried to keep that in mind ever since because it’s the exact thing I needed to hear and something I am constantly reminding myself of.

Since you can’t move, focus on what you can do to make your home work for you. Is it your daily commute that you loathe? Talk to your manager to see if there are other options, such as working from home or adjusting your hours so your not getting up early every day to beat traffic. Or maybe it’s time for a career change? Finding a place to work that allows you to work remotely is much easier in today’s job market.

If you rent and have a good landlord or property manager, they might be willing to work with you to make some of the changes you want. They may even be willing to pay for these changes (or at least chip in).

As a homeowner (and, in some cases, a renter), there are a lot of changes you can make that will improve your space but also increase your home’s value:

  • Paint
  • Rearrange the furniture
  • Deep clean
  • Get some plants
  • Add a backsplash
  • Change the tiling
  • Re-grout the tiling
  • Change your shower-head
  • Change your kitchen faucet
  • Replace the lighting fixtures
  • Add more lighting fixtures
  • Replace the carpet or flooring
  • Add a rug
  • Remove a rug
  • Hang shelves
  • Build a deck or small patio in your yard
  • Power-wash your bathtub
  • Polish wooden surfaces or stainless steel appliances
  • Add something functional and/or visually pleasing to that dark and unused corner

Do something that fits your budget but will lessen the things that annoy you.

One of the main things I dislike about our place is the lack of storage. Because of this, our spare bedroom has become a dumping ground for stuff. By spending less than $200 on a pair of ugly but super durable shelves, we solved a lot of the storage issues. It was an easy fix and is something that we can take with us and still use when we move.

Don’t Outgrow Your Space

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On that same note, we wouldn’t need this storage space if we didn’t have so much stuff to store. Most of it did not move in with us but has accumulated since.

At least once a year, I get into that spring-cleaning mode (although it doesn’t always happen in the spring). Each time, I donate at least 2 trunk-loads of clothes and various household items that I no longer want or need. I would love to spend a full week giving our place a major declutter overhaul, but every little bit helps.

One suggestion I’ve heard time and time again to help avoid clutter is the “one in, one out” rule. It basically means for every new thing you bring into your house, one (usually related) item has to leave. So, if you’re upgrading that old coffee maker, don’t hang onto the old one. Get rid of it! Same goes for any new clothes, books, toys, gadgets, etc.

If you really want to get ahead with decluttering or downsizing, up the number. Get rid of 2 things for every new item instead of just 1. And, of course, only buy or bring into your house the things that you actually need.

Make Your Space Work

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Out-growing your space isn’t just about “stuff.” If your family is growing, it may be impossible not to outgrow your space. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move into a bigger place to raise a family. It is possible to make your space work with a bit of creative thinking (and decluttering).

Think about how you can use those unused or underused spaces in a better way.

Consider smaller pieces of furniture, less furniture, or multifunctional furniture. Mount your TV to the wall instead of using a stand to free up some floor space. Utilize your vertical space (like the top of cabinets) as well as those hideaway spaces (like under your bed). Or convert a closet or nook into an office space.

Keep an Eye on the Market

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Even though I know moving is currently out of reach, I still look at the rental listings at least a few times each month. (I also used to want to be a real estate agent and find this stuff interesting.)

But it’s useful to keep an eye on the market – whether or not you’re currently looking to rent or buy.

Knowing the median home price and the average rent for places in your favorite neighborhood will help you determine whether living there is feasible or not. And if so, it will help you set realistic goals when it comes to your budget. You will know how much you will need to save for first and last month’s rent or for a down payment if you’re hoping to buy.

You may also luck out by finding a new place at an affordable price. It’s only happened once to me, but by the time I contacted the landlord, the rental was gone. By keeping an eye on the market, you may have better luck than I did and be able to move sooner than you thought.

Make Sacrifices

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If you really hate where you live, making some small sacrifices now in order to eventually find a place you love is probably worth it.

I kick myself whenever I think about this. I was unhappy living in our rental right from the start. By waiting longer to move, we can’t afford the prices of what comparable rentals are now going for. Instead, having controlled rent increases is working in our favor over moving somewhere new. If only we had moved after our one-year lease was up!

After our wedding, we spent some of our gift money following some of my earlier advice. We changed what we could to make the space work better for us. We bought a deep freezer because the small freezer in the refrigerator just wasn’t cutting it for us. We also bought a soundbar for our TV since we’re homebodies who watch too much TV.

In hindsight, I wish we would have used that money towards moving expenses instead. We could have made do with what we had.

Increase Your Income or Make Extra Money

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Yes, another obvious suggestion that’s not always easy to accomplish. But if you want to move to one of the best cities or communities, anything you can do to increase your family income will help!

There are a ridiculous number of different ways you can increase your income or make extra money. Some are easier than others, and of course, the pay varies:

  • Ask for a raise
  • Work overtime
  • Get a better paying job
  • Get a second, part-time job
  • Do gig jobs
  • Sell unused items or have a garage sale
  • Make extra money online
  • Start a side hustle
  • Freelance
  • Sell your unwanted clothes
  • Use cash-back or coupon apps
  • Test websites
  • Answer surveys
  • Join a focus group or paid research study

Start Saving!

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I know, I know. Easier said than done. There are probably many other things you need (or want) to spend your money on instead of saving it, but you’re not going to get out of your current situation without savings.

Do some research to get a better idea of how much moving might cost you. And then figure out how much you’ll need to save to make it happen.

For example, if you need $500 to hire movers, $250 for utility deposits, and $3,000 for the first and last month’s rent, moving will cost you $3,750. If you hope to move within a year, that will mean putting about $315 a month aside.

Putting real numbers (even if they are estimates at this point) will give you a realistic goal to work towards rather than a “someday” goal that may never happen.

Loving Where You Live

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If you hate where you live but can’t move, these are just some of the things you can do to make your space work better until you can. Small changes can make a big difference, so focus on creating a comfortable and unique space. Soon, you’ll find ways to make your current home into a place you love, even if it’s just for now.

Easy Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Home Fast

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Need to sell your home fast? Getting a quick sale in today’s housing market can be a little tricky. If time is of the essence, you might have to settle for a bit less than your asking price, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get a good deal.

Selling a home can be stressful at the best of times, but it can be even more so if you need the money quickly. While it isn’t always easy, it is possible if you implement the right tactics: 15 Easy Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Home Fast

Cheap Retirement Countries

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Are you looking forward to retirement? Do you imagine peaceful days spent socializing with family and friends, pursuing hobbies, and catching up on things you put off during a long career with limited time off?

While we all long for those days, you may look at your bank account and bills and wonder if they’ll ever come. If retiring in the U.S. feels unattainable, there are options for moving abroad that may be within your budget. 10 Countries Where You Can Retire With $2,000 per Month

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