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Seeking advice on whether to move to a new apartment

Edit: I appreciate everyone's feedback, which was generally in favor of staying, partly because leaving a satisfactory home for a new one entails unknown risks with regard to neighbors and/or the building, and partly because my hypothesis that spending more money will be motivating is suspect. Because I have real life friends who reads this website, I have removed the more identifying and/or financial specifics from the original post, and will not disclose which path I ended up taking. Thank you all again!

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So, what did you do?

Go rent an nice airbnb in a nearby area for a month and treat yourself to a staycation to see if a change in environment is really gonna help you before you decide to move.

Moving is always a big risk. I moved from a dump to a nicer place only to find out that the nicer place had pipes in the wall that would become loose in the winter and rattle intermittently all night long. Also my neighbors are constantly fighting, screaming and blasting reggae music. Moving to a different dump this month to get away from the noise.

If all of your neighbors are tolerable, stay.

Retain current apartment, set aside the entire increased budget as "Increased Motivation" to be split between therapy if necessary, social events with other entrepreneurs, gym budget, and some for credit improvement/condo down payment in a year or a few to avoid fickle landlords increasing your rent indefinitely.

Personally I don't think you've laid out a good case at all for moving, but you're the only one who can judge. In my experience apartment amenities are not something I care about, so 30% nicer amenities means nothing to me. And I don't think that being in a more expensive apartment means you'll have better neighbors at all. And @Kevin_P already nicely put why your thinking about "oh it'll help keep me motivated" is silly.

If it were me, I wouldn't move based on what you've said. There's no upside to it. But you have to decide for yourself what you value as far as the pros and cons, we can't really give you advice on that score.

Too late to do it in 14 hours but have you considered buying, possibly in a years time? Early to mid thirties seems like a good time to consider it and it seems absent in your analysis.

Another way of looking at the problem is through opportunity cost: could you invest the money you saved into more important things? It could be index funds, or EA charities, or a trip to see a long missed friend.

Money could also be translated into time: is there something you'd rather do instead of moving and making the money you need to pay for the move + increased rent?

Something to meditate on perhaps.

Looks like you have already substantially analyzed the pros and cons of moving. One additional possible cost of moving (depending where you're at): the deposit.

In California, my experience is that renters can kiss their deposit goodbye. The standard renting procedure is to pay upfront first month's rent, last month's rent, a deposit for the keys (a couple hundred dollars), and an additional deposit in the amount of monthly rent in case you leave the place trashed once you move. My experience with renting is that there is a high chance that the landlord will by default not return that deposit, even though I always clean up the place before moving out. The times I have asked for itemized list of what that deposit went towards fixing (which they are required to provide upon request), the list included carpet cleaning, repainting, and other stuff that is about sprucing up the place after normal wear-and-tear.

Once, that list included carpet cleaning for an apartment with no carpets. I did get that portion back, but only after making a credible threat to sue.

In other parts of the US, however, I got my deposit back without such problems. So I recommend considering the norms regarding deposits where you're at, and if the norms are for those deposits to go to upkeep for normal wear-and-tear, then adding both your deposit for your current place and your deposit for the other place as part of the moving costs.

It's always blown me away whenever people talk about having to pay last months rent up front. What kind of fucking asshole landlord is demanding such a thing? I've never had to do that, and any place that asked for it is a place I would never rent from. I'm not gonna pay rent for the future, fuck that noise.

Though your experience about the security deposit is spot on with mine. I've gotten some of it back most of the time, but I've never gotten all of it back. And it's for bullshit reasons too - for example, the last place I rented from sent pictures of the carpet where it was indented from furniture and held back part of my security deposit because of that. That was so scummy - like guys, that is unavoidable normal wear and tear when someone lives in a place for two years. What did they want me to do, not have furniture? But I had bigger fish to fry then fighting it out with them (I had just bought a house), so they got to rip me off.

Your experience with deposits is interesting. I've also lived in California (South SF Bay) for a while, and I easily got my deposit back at both my apartments (I own now). There may have been $200 deducted of cleaning fees and miscellaneous items that were overall justified, but the rest of the deposit (equal to 1 month rent) was promptly returned. Of course, I had a FAANG job and was renting apartments from corporate landlords that were above the bottom of the market (although not particularly fancy or near the high end - these apartment complexes were decades old and had appliances, kitchens, floors, and the like reasonably up to date, but still definitely builder grade). So I wonder if you were a student, renting from a small landlord or at the lower end of the market, or just in a different area of the state.

That's a reasonable guess, but doesn't apply to me. My experience renting in California is during the time that I had a reasonably-paid and very steady full-time employment. When I rented from corporate landlords at "luxury" apartment complex, I didn't get my deposit back two-out-of-three times. When I rented from individual landlords, I didn't get my deposit back one-out-of-two times. At each of those locations, I cleaned the apartment after all my stuff was moved out, prior to handing back the key during the inspection.

By now I give at least even odds that I won't get my deposit back when I move.

I'm not going to tell you to move or not to move. If you have the money there's nothing wrong with spending it on something that will improve your quality of life.

But this:

I wonder if by moving to the pricier place, the higher rent will light a bit of a fire under my butt and result in faster progress in my work that ends up paying more dividends on a net basis. That might even be true after the first 15-months when rent will basically double.

... is wishful nonsense, as you seem to have already figured out based on your following paragraph.

You can use the same logic to justify any sort of spending, not just housing. And other things too - eating that extra dessert is actually good for my diet, because gaining weight will make me more focused on exercise tomorrow.

Ironically the motivation trick will probably work better in the opposite direction. Tell yourself, "if I put in the extra effort over the next 12 months, I'll treat myself to a nicer apartment this time next year". That way you're linking the effort to the reward in a much more direct way.

Like I said at the beginning, this doesn't mean you shouldn't move. If the nice apartment is worth the extra cost then go for it, you don't seem to be hurting for cash. But don't justify it based on second-order effects that will probably never happen.

Also you can simplify the two short-term financial effects you mentioned. A $x discount per month for 15 months plus a $1500 one-time cost is pretty much the same thing as a discount of $(x-100).