Ah, the ’90s — that carefree time of cheap gas, babydoll dresses, Sun-In, grunge music, the Spice Girls, and seriously overplucked eyebrows.
It also gave us Friends, Will & Grace, Roseanne, Full House, Married with Children … should we go on? And all that great, must-see TV served up some seriously high expectations about what our living situations would be like once we officially left the nest.
House hunting can be hard, even when you know exactly what you want. Add in hours of daydreaming about living in an apartment like Monica Geller’s someday? It’s time to come back to life (back to reality).
1. Unrealistic expectations of size
However, now that we’ve all been around the block a few times, we’ve realized this sad reality: The real-life existence of this apartment — rent-controlled or not — is about as possible as finding a unicorn in the wild. Thanks a lot for getting our hopes up, Friends.
Forget waiting until the rain starts to fall. Instead, make sure you understand what you can afford before you start looking for your next place.
2. The best friend next door
Doogie Howser had Vinnie. Seinfeld had Kramer. Will & Grace had Jack. Family Matters had Steve Urkel. (OK, that last one may be a stretch, but even if Laura never would’ve admitted it, Urkel really was a great friend to her.)
For many of us who were raised on ’90s TV, we imagined that as adults we’d be surrounded by our best friends. They’d live next door (or at least around the corner), and we’d hang out all the time.
In real life? Your BFFs might not live in your neighborhood or even in your city — let alone right across the hall or street. But even without a built-in best friend, there are plenty of ways to get settled in your new neighborhood.
3. Designer-y spaces
We’ll give Will & Grace a pass on this one, since Grace is an interior designer — of course she’d have beautiful furnishings. But looking back, plenty of characters and families from ’90s sitcoms have surprisingly lovely homes.
Would the hot mess that is Ross Geller really have had such a dashing apartment? (After all, this is the guy who once tried to “PIVOT!” a new couch up the stairs instead of paying to have it delivered.) Peg and Al Bundy had some serious Mid-Century style on a shoe salesman’s budget in Married with Children. Even the working-class Midwestern family in Roseanne had a cozy — albeit slightly country — home.
Of course, most of us don’t have the budget for a set designer interior designer. But we do have time to pin the DIY hacks to get the look on a budget.
4. The wise next-door neighbor
This is not an actual thing.
There are loud neighbors, judgy neighbors, nosy neighbors, rude neighbors, neighbors who let their lawns go to seed, neighbors who never leave their homes, nice-but-not-BFF-material neighbors … the list goes on. But you might not encounter the quirky, wise next-door neighbor who’s always ready to offer brilliant advice — and also understands that good fences make good neighbors.
Instead, you can try your best to end bad neighbor behaviors — and maybe even take a moment to see if the annoying neighbor is you.
5. Making homeownership look easy
With the exception of Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor — who never actually made home improvements, lawn care, or any DIY project look easy, even though it was his job — we bet you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a ’90s sitcom character who actually had to maintain their house. (Unless said work was related to the plot of the episode, naturally.)
The lone exception: Danny Tanner of Full House and his borderline obsession with keeping his house spick-and-span. Clean house? You got it, dude. (We bet that Victorian beauty needed a lot of upkeep, though.)
Maintaining your place might be tough, but it’s worth the effort, especially if you focus on the home upgrades that will add the most value.
6. The view from here is spectacular awful
Let’s talk about Frasier for a moment, shall we? It’s not completely outside the realm of possibility for Dr. Crane and his dad to be able to afford a posh apartment in Seattle with room for a live-in housekeeper/physical therapist.
The view from Frasier’s living room, though? The one with the city behind it and the Space Needle in prominent view? It doesn’t actually exist. (Record scratch!)
According to the bonus features in the season one box set, the photograph used on set was taken from a popular spot in Kerry Park.
Lesson learned? There’s no such thing as the perfect home, the perfect view, or the perfect neighborhood.
So thanks, sitcoms of the ’90s, for teaching us to dream. (Although we probably could’ve used an episode of Clarissa Explains It All for some real talk about the housing market.)