Thursday, June 4, 2015

Apartment Living

Living in Abu Dhabi is not only my first time living abroad, but it's my first time living in an apartment. Unless you count college dorms as an apartment. But I don't. My college dorm was just a playhouse, made for adult-sized children -- nothing very real-life about a sleepover every night and then breakfast in the dining hall every morning. But then again, there's not a whole lot that feels very real-life about getting to live here:

Sometimes, it is pretty fabulous to live in an apartment:

1. No lawn to mow. No plants to water. No dandelions to do battle with every spring.
2. Less space that gets dirty; therefore, less space to clean. And I use clean in a very loose sense of the word: we have a wonderful lady who comes and cleans our apartment once a week. We pay her. She mops. It is a win-win situation.
3. Pool, gym, security, and elevator provided.

No lie, it can be pretty awesome.

But while there are some amazing positives, the negatives outweigh the awesomeness at times:

1. It was 118 degrees yesterday, so our air-con pushes beautifully cold, but recycled, air into our apartment 24/7.  Therefore, I woke up this morning to the smell of whatever fishy, peppery, with a little bit of sickly-sweet, breakfast my neighbors are cooking. There is no IKEA candle powerful enough to combat this smell.
2. A family with small children moved into an apartment on our floor. Don't get me wrong, I love kids. I hope to have my own some day. But other people's children, screaming in the hallway at 6:42am? Not okay.
3. No pets. And we miss our little dogs.
4. When you burn dinner, the entire floor hears the fire alarm screaming "1311 IS BURNING SOMETHING AGAIN! WHAT A TERRIBLE COOK SHE MUST BE!" And then security calls or knocks, just to check and see if "Everyone is okay?" Yep, we are fine. Just trying to cook chicken. Again.

But these are the two most important things that I have learned while apartment-living it up:
1. We don't need a ton of space. We currently have a comfortable bedroom, 1.5 adequate bathrooms, and a sizable dining and living area. When people visit, it will be a bit cramped by first-world standards, but it will not be uncomfortable.
2. We don't need that much stuff. Since my current living situation is temporary, I give a lot of thought to the things I buy and bring home. Before I make any purchase, I think "Do I need this?" and "What will I do with it when I leave?" and it has saved me a lot of money. Now, I do not claim to have become a minimalist who never buys anything, (Seriously, who can go to IKEA and not buy everything?), but reevaluating spending habits and tendencies has been a tremendously rewarding experience.

Yet another detail for the "pros" list.