What I Rent: Marissa, $1,800 a month for an apartment in Melrose, Massachusetts

Meet Marissa and Zach (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

It’s time once again for What I Rent, our weekly series that takes you inside people’s rented homes and lets you have a good, thorough nose around to see what they get for what they pay.

Last week we were in Edgeley, Stockport, with Heather and Ryan, who pay £900 a month for their three-bedroom house.

Today we’re hanging out with Marissa, 27, and her boyfriend Zach, in Melrose, Massachusetts.

Marissa is an interior plant stylist working in Boston, and moved to the area from New Hampshire after feeling stuck in her job in the mental health field.

Zach already lived in Massachusetts and needed a new place to live, so the couple decided it was the perfect time to move in together.

That’s how they ended up in this one-bedroom apartment – we chatted with Marissa all about it.

Hi, Marissa! How much do you pay to live here?

We pay $1,800 a month for rent.

We are also responsible for all of the utilities (heat, hot water, electric), which, depending on the month, end up being a few hundred dollars, give or take.

And what do you get for what you pay?

The apartment is fairly open throughout, with closing doors only on the bedroom and bathroom.

Technically speaking, we have four rooms and one bathroom. This includes the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedroom.

We also have a very large foyer that seems like a small room in itself, as well as a section of the basement that houses our washer and dryer, and extra storage space.

What I Rent: Marissa and Zach, $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Melrose, Massachusetts - marissa standing in the doorway

The couple pay $1,800 a month in rent (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

Do you feel like you have a good deal?

We have a great deal! In the beginning, I was a bit overwhelmed with the rental price jump from New Hampshire to Massachusetts, but after living here for two years, I see how much others are paying in rent and I’m so happy we have this little space to call home. Even more so now, with all of the recent inflation.

I mean, we have a first floor unit in a Victorian home full of gorgeous hardwood floors, old wood detailing, bay windows, new appliances, and granite countertops.

We have a WASHER AND DRYER in our unit (almost unheard of). We are close to Boston, but in an adorable, small-town-feel type of city.

Whereabouts is your home based? What do you think of the area?

I live in Melrose, MA, which is about 20 minutes from Boston, or 60 minutes if you’re sitting in rush hour.

It’s a beautiful city, but has a quiet, small town feel. The houses are old and gorgeous, and far out of our price range.

There are small downtown areas with lots of great shops and restaurants, but also quaint neighborhoods to walk through, and small ponds and parks scattered throughout the city.

The one-bedroom apartment is in Melrose, Massachusetts (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

How did you find the property?

I found this apartment on a rental app!

At the time, I was living in New Hampshire and Zach was living in Massachusetts. I was feeling stuck at my job and craving some change, and Zach needed a new place to live. We had been together for five years at this point, so we figured it was probably time to see if we could handle living with each other!

I vividly remember gasping when I found this apartment online, and I immediately texted Zach and said that we had to do it. I was no longer interested in any other apartment, and there was no talking me out of it.

This apartment was and is one-of-a-kind, and I made sure I mentioned that to Zach at least once a day.

We eventually had a tour with the broker, and just knew it was it for us. I helped my old landlord sell my previous apartment a bit before my lease was up (thankfully he allowed it) just so I could call this place home.

Marissa fell in love with the property the moment she saw it (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

How have you made the apartment feel like home?

In my old apartment, I felt like I needed to have almost every wall and surface space covered with some sort of decor to make it feel like home. In this apartment, I moved a bit differently. I took my time and sat with many empty walls before finding pieces that made it truly feel like home.

I brought my furniture from my old apartment, so we had all of the necessities when we moved in. I spent some time getting rid of things that no longer felt like me, and made room for this new chapter.

I spent lots of time thrifting the perfect pieces. The apartment is filled with natural wood tones, unlike my other apartment, so I had to shift gears a bit when decorating.

I filled the space with warm wood toned cane and rattan, colorful rugs, vintage decor pieces, and lots of plants. And when I say lots, I mean over 100 plants.

I’ve been trying to be more intentional with not only buying home decor, but also switching things out constantly. Now, I try to keep the same ‘bones’ within each room, and if I feel like I need some change, I simply switch out blankets, pillow covers, small tabletop decor pieces, or art. And let me tell you, I have a stash of all of these items, so I don’t have to buy new things often to change the feel of a room.

‘I’ve been trying to be more intentional with not only buying home decor, but also switching things out constantly,’ she says (Picture: Bryce Vickmark)

Have you found it difficult to decorate when renting? Is your landlord happy with you doing bits?

I was first disappointed when I found out I was not allowed to paint any of the walls, but then I realized I truly only disliked the color of the bathroom walls, and who really cares about that? Every other wall was a neutral tone that went well with the wood accents, so I came to love them.

I haven’t done much to change the apartment; I’ve only hung decor on the walls, such as shelves, mirrors, and art. They have been completely fine with those small changes, and I don’t see myself wanting to do much else to update the space.

My landlords actually live upstairs, so every time I use a drill, I find myself getting a text to see what I’m doing. Luckily, I don’t use drills too often.

My landlords haven’t seen too much of my apartment, but I always receive a compliment when they get a little peek when we’re chatting at the front door.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Technically, we have enough space for two people to live in.

I would be lying if I said I don’t want more space (would anyone actually turn down more space?). I would like a bigger bedroom, and I would love more closet space. The two small closets we have are lacking at best, but it’s an apartment in an old home, so it’s expected.

As I said earlier, the only rooms with closing doors are the small bedroom and bathroom, so to have any sort of true alone time, you’re a bit holed up in the teeny bedroom.

Moving in right as a worldwide pandemic set in made the apartment feel like very close quarters, especially when we were both working from home. Totally would not recommend unless you have at least 3,000 sq ft.

Marissa is an interiors plant stylist, so of course there’s plenty of greenery (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

Are there any problems with the home you have to deal with?

Like I said, the tiny closets and lack of rooms with closing doors are our biggest issue, and honestly, I’ll take it.

An ongoing issue that we face, along with many other renters, is hearing the sound of our landlords upstairs. It’s an old house, so there is not a great sound barrier, and we can hear every single footstep, many conversations, and all of the doors slamming.

There’s a running joke about one of our landlords, who has his living space (man cave, if you will) directly above our bedroom, and the man does not sleep. We are constantly woken up by things dropping on the floor, and furniture being moved around and dragged across the floor.

We asked them about it, and his wife was so apologetic, telling us that often times, he drags his side table toward him to get quick access to his food and drinks while he watches movies. Hilarious, but not at 3am when we’re both dreading our alarm clocks in a few hours.

Do you have plans to move again any time soon?

This is definitely not our forever home, but with the current housing market and rent inflation, we’re good where we are for the moment.

Do you want to own a place some day or are you happy to rent?

I cannot wait to own a place one day.

I have dreams of a home where you can’t reach out the window and high-five your neighbor; a home where I can leave all the shades up at night, and not worry about who’s inevitably peeking.

I long for the day I have a gorgeous outdoor space all to myself. I grew up in a house set in the woods, and I miss the earthy feel every single day.

That being said, I have no idea where I’ll be in the next couple of years, and let’s be honest, I cannot afford a house. I’m enjoying the rented journey right now, and am excited to see where life takes me next.

Sounds good to us. Shall we take a look around?

What I Rent: Marissa and Zach, $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Melrose, Massachusetts - marissa standing in her living room

Welcome in – here’s the living room (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
The couple have gone for lots of earthy tones and natural textures (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
You’ll spy multiple guitars (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Storage is limited (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Check out all that wood (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
A cosy nook (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
In the world of interiors, pampas is a necessity (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
The dining room (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
There are more than 100 plants in the apartment, FYI (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Just think of all the watering… (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Got to have a drinks cabinet (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Loads of natural light (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Check out the little writing space between the dining room and kitchen (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
A very white kitchen (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
That’s a decent knife collection (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
There’s a lot of art on the walls (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Here’s the bedroom (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Quite the earring collection (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

What I Rent: Marissa and Zach, $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Melrose, Massachusetts - bed

Terracotta tones (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
And finally, the bathroom (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)
Complete with more plants, of course (Picture: Bryce Vickmark/Metro.co.uk)

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am.

Check back next week to have another nose around a rented property.



How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what’s normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email [email protected] You’ll need to take pictures of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your bedroom or living area.

Make sure you get permission from your housemates! You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’re paying for rent, as that’s pretty important.

We’re not just after the prettiest places out there, by the way. We want the reality of renting, so if you’re currently renting a place you hate, we’d love to see that too (and sympathise greatly!).

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