Lessons learned by living downtown…
I finally moved to downtown Mount Pleasant. Granted, it isn’t Boston or New York or Chicago, but for right now with work and school keeping me in the middle of the mitten state, it’s the best I can do. So far, it’s already been a huge experience. Let’s recap:
I come from a small town with two stoplights. I graduated with a class of 80-something, and my backyard was a cornfield. Mount Pleasant is vastly larger than the Village of Clinton. I moved into the dorms at Central Michigan University for two years, then a student apartment complex on the outskirts of town, a party house right off of campus, a family housing apartment complex in Grand Blanc and back to a student apartment complex on the outskirts of Mount Pleasant. As of a week ago, I’ve been living in a downtown loft apartment, and it’s been an adjustment. I’ve learned a few things.
1. You can walk everywhere. Need to finish a paper? Public library’s a block away. Groceries? The co-op store is two blocks away. Go for a run? Forget the gym. You have miles and miles of riverfront trails right outside your door. Sure, there’s no porch or yard, but I have roof access and the local park and river are less than half a mile away. The first night I moved in, I walked to the bar, walked home, woke up, walked to Stan’s diner for breakfast and walked back home after picking up lunch at the co-op. It was great.
2. Similarly, on that note, I feel like a jerk for driving anywhere. Campus is less than a mile away. Work is a little more than a mile away. Why am I driving? What’s the point? I’ve already solved this problem- my brand new shiny (turquoise!) hybrid Giant bicycle has been ordered and is on its way. (Taking bets as to how long it takes before I get stuck in my first rainstorm. Any takers?)
3. The people! Again, this isn’t a big city, but there are people at all hours. And I mean all hours. There are the morning walkers, joggers and cyclists moving past my building at 6 a.m. Early-morning UPS truck drivers. There’s the after-bar crowd collecting beneath my window at 3 a.m. I woke up to go to work at 5:30 a.m. today, a Monday, and there were two people chatting in the alleyway outside of my apartment, sharing a cigarette. Literally- all hours.
4. And banking off of that- I’ve learned, quickly, to keep my blinds closed. I’m still in the process of making some new curtains for my north and east-facing corner windows.
5. People will want to stay with you. Always, it’s a given. Requests will start pouring in from friends from out of town who heard you’re living close to the bar scene. Friends from in-town will join you on your nightly escapades and, once they’ve had a few too many, ask to crash on your couch. My roommate and I have put in a pull-out couch, stocked up on blankets and are working on procuring an air mattress… or two.
6. The sense of community. I’m becoming so much closer to the city I live in, and noticing a whole lot more about Mount Pleasant. I’m excited to spend the next 13 months in this hot box apartment in the middle of mid-Michigan.
7. The events! There is always so much going on downtown. There’s an annual summer concert series that takes place at the closest intersection to my apartment and I have a feeling I’ll be able to see it from my roof.
8. The unique-ness of my apartment. Obviously, you can’t build a large-scale residential apartment unit in the middle of a commercial-zoned area, so most downtown apartments are loft-style, as part of a mixed-use development. My apartment is a renovated former city hall, with businesses located below me, so the apartment is definitely one of its own.
I’m already looking forward to moving into this apartment and putting my own spin on it. I won’t be here for more than a year, so it’s unlikely that I’ll paint or put any heavy renovation work into the space.
For me, location trumps almost everything when it comes to signing a lease. What criteria do you look for when leasing a new spot? Let me know in the comments!