When my husband and I bought our apartment in late 2006, it seemed like the perfect investment. Sure, It was smaller than we wanted and it wasn't in the neighborhood we had originally desired – but with the housing bubble going strong, we figured we'd be able to "sell up" within a couple of years. Fast forward 5 1/2 years and we're stuck. I've been singing the underwater blues for months but then I finally found some ways to help me swim with the flow.
• Count your blessings. While this apartment isn't perfect, it is a nice, clean, healthy place to live. We're able to pay our mortgage and (knock wood) there haven't been any major issues with our building. I mean, we still want to move to a larger apartment in a different neighborhood but that's the funny thing about life – you can't always get what you want. So while this may no longer be our dream home, we're blessed to have a home that we can afford.
• Remember: You are not alone. One of the things that bothers me about not being able to sell our apartment as planned is the overwhelming sense of being a chump. But, of course, I'm not the only one in this sinking ship ... or should I say sinking apartment? The sense of upward mobility that Americans have tied to their homes has stalled a bit. While it doesn't help my situation to know that I'm not the only house on the block that's lost a lot of value, it helps to think that I'm not the only chump who bought into a housing bubble at the wrong time.
• Save, save, save your money. Fact: moving is expensive. Security deposits, rental vans, movers – it all adds up. By being forced to stay in this apartment, I'm actually saving money. Yeah, that hardly helps balance the fact that my home is worth tens of thousands of dollars less that we paid for it. However, since we purchased an apartment that is well within our budget, we've actually been saving money while we're stuck here. Hopefully by the time the housing market recovers, we'll have a nice nest egg.
• Flex your creativity. When we bought our apartment both my husband and I were rarely home. In the intervening years, I have transitioned to a work-from-home job and my husband's summer schedule has him home most days, too. While we feel like we outgrew the apartment two years ago, we've been finding creative ways to make the space work for us. We've rearranged rooms, replaced furniture, hung new art – all things that make us like the apartment as much as we did the first day we moved in.
• Get out of the house! It's funny how an apartment that I initially adored, one that I wanted to spend every minute of they day in, has come to feel like a prison. To combat this, I'm spending more and more time outside the house. Working from home makes this a bit challenging – although I do spend more afternoons in the coffee shop. So I'm seeing this as a perfect opportunity to take a class or start volunteering, two things I've been wanting to do for some time.
Now, tell us how you're dealing with the underwater blues!