Physical isolation

I always dread the time when my lease is ending, because I have to confront the decision to either stay/move to a new place. In Jakarta, leasing an apartment typically involves a 12-month contract to be paid upfront, which makes it a huge financial and geographical commitment since location affects how we live significantly. This is esp harder during the pandemic where we have to spend most of our time indoor and quality of living becomes an additional aspect to evaluate.

So in H2 2021 I decided to begin the search early. I spent months looking for alternatives to my current place that also fit my budget. The premise was simple: I needed more space for a kitchen. For the past 2 years I was living at a 30+ sqm studio with 0 layout. This makes cooking very challenging due to how the smell would stick everywhere. So I thought a 45+ sqm 1BR with separate kitchen area would be perfect for an upgrade.

But despite the extensive search I ended back at square one. This is because any places that fit the above criteria are way beyond my budget by 100%+. It's too high of a price tag for a single kitchen (lol). On the other hand, I realized that most units I reviewed do not have a decent balcony at all. They're typically nonexistent or mostly an afterthought, and they face either north/south to ensure consistent lighting throughout the day. The scenery is practically unchanging.

In contrast to this, my current balcony is way too spacious for its own good. It faces west overlooking the city skyline with a great view of the sunset everyday. It also has glass walls that bring in excessive amount of light in the afternoon that makes the room too warm at times. All this makes living in this place hardly boring. 

This comparison made me realize how my balcony has helped to prevent that claustrophobic feeling of staying in for extended duration without feeling too isolated. It's a hidden criteria I didn't consider and it changed how I continued my search. Further site visits also made me realize how floor levels mattered more than I thought, e.g. staying closer to the ground allows one to see the plantations around the building and their slow growth throughout the season. 

All these findings helped to make my decision to renew my lease as long as the pandemic lasts.