Downtown: where luxury is cheaper than it seems:

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March 5, 2002 // UPDATED 1:15 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Julie Swenson
Julie Swenson

I'm sick of conning the check out boy at Lund's into selling me a roll of quarters every week for laundry. I'm sick of washing dishes by hand. I'm sick of the guy downstairs who smokes so much that the smell wafts up through my closed windows in January. I'm sick of drunken caretakers who smoke with the guy downstairs. I'm sick of dodging over-achieving mommies who gave up the partner track to run marathons while pushing a stroller full of triplets around Lake Harriet. Most of all though, I'm sick of driving in rush-hour traffic.

Oh and there's more I don't want: a yard, a dog, a garden or a cul-de-sac. There's only one place to meet my needs and that's a luxury apartment Downtown.

Money saved eating lunch at home: $7-12 a day Money saved walking home from happy hour vs. taxi: $6-10 per ride Peace of mind that your FedEx deliveries aren't lost: priceless

First, a word about luxury. This means that there is a washing machine in the apartment, a dishwasher and the caretaker actually cares. In no way does the word refer to oriental rugs, remote-control lighting or marble anything. I just don't want to find my socks posted on a bulletin board waiting for me to claim them in a semi-public laundry room anymore.

At first glance, living Downtown in an apartment with the "basic luxuries" outlined above looks totally unaffordable. Rents start at $900 for one bedroom and then you have to add parking, which can be another $100 or more. Average rent in Minneapolis is around $800, so living in a Downtown apartment on your own is going to be more expensive.

But just look a little further and you'll discover that living Downtown is really a bargain.

Happy hour is a break-even proposition Bargain point one: Have you ever walked anywhere since you started taking the bus to school? It's so hip and urban. Everyone in Manhattan walks everywhere. You can too, if you live Downtown. Being able to walk home from happy hour at Brit's is worth at least $50 a month.

Bargain point two: Happy hour aside, living Downtown lets you walk to work, maybe even without going outside. You can sleep in at least another hour, or spend that hour with Regis and Kelly, but either way you still get to work before everyone else. And you can go home for lunch and watch a Little House on the Prairie rerun and eat something hot and homemade which is a whole lot cheaper than anything you'd find in a restaurant or deli. It's a wonderful life without all the stress of 35W at rush hour. How do you put a dollar value on that? Is it worth as much as a cappuccino a day? That's $3.25 times 30, which equals $90.75.

Bargain point three: It's really like living in a small town. If you live Downtown, chances are you'll be in a tall building. From the outside they look cold, like you'd be living in an office building. The truth is that each building has its own personality and a community within it, like a small town, only vertical and with its own theme.

A vertical small town Laurel Village feels young -- even if the residents are all over 35, The Churchill feels more formal, and the fountain in the lobby at RiverWest reminds you that you are a success every time you walk past it.

The big buildings all have pools and workout facilities where you can meet your neighbors, but they never seem to be in use. The heart and soul of a building is in the people who work there. Just like even the smallest of towns has a mayor, each building has a manager and a staff. They all work in your home and are there more than you are so you want to be sure that you like them and trust them.

The staff makes or breaks your life in your vertical small town. They can throw great parties for the residents twice a year or not. They can sign for your Fedexes and lose them, or they can bring them into your apartment and leave your packages on your breakfast bar. They can take care of your dripping faucet that day or they can let the request sit in a pile on their desk. It's all up to the people.

Which brings me to the final and most important bargain point, number four: Living Downtown, you are never isolated or alone. Even if you are single.

While hunting apartments, Julie Swenson ( also owns Abbas Public Relations.