Category Archives: Real Estate & Rent

How Much Should I Really Pay for Rent?

After apartment shopping for a while now, I’ve come to terms with the reality that $1700/month is not going to get us a “nice” one bedroom. It WILL get us a one bedroom that has crappy reviews and doesn’t make one feel calm after returning home from a long day of work. And a long commute with a lot of traffic.

The thing is, I CAN afford higher rent. My boyfriend’s maximum is $850 so it’s up to me if I want to split 50/50 or chip in more for a place that will make me happy. My bf has lived in a shed sans running water and a kitchen for the entirety of his adult life to date, so he doesn’t exactly have high standards. The fact he’s willing to pay up to $850 actually surprises me, it turns out he does have some standards. However, he’s made it clear that he will not pay for cable and he won’t offer a penny over $850, with a preference towards $800. Continue reading

Hi, My Name is Her Every Cent Counts, and I’m a Racist

There are two types of racists in the world — the ones who blatantly hate on another race for being different, and the ones who just would prefer to be around people who are more like them. Most people are slightly racist. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. As the musical Avenue Q puts it – “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist Sometimes.”

Looking for an apartment, my racism comes out in full force. Neighborhoods around the Bay Area are very neatly divided along color lines. There are areas for Mexican-Americans, areas for Chinese-Americans, Indian-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Korean-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, Cambodian-Americans, African-Americans and so on. Continue reading

The Moving Saga Continues

Anxiety doesn’t begin to cover it. Within the next 26 days my boyfriend and I need to find an apartment where we will live for — at least — the next year. And no matter what, even if we live in some crappy area, our rent is going to significantly go up upon moving in together. It’s giving me major panic attacks.

He’s committed to a maximum of $800 in rent ($850 if we find a place that’s absolutely amazing.) That means we have to find a place for under $1600 if I want the rent payments to be equal. I do make more than him by about $40k, so right now I’d be ok with paying a little more. The problem is my job situation is very up in the air right now and I could easily go from making more than him to being on unemployment. I’d rather stick to an $800 monthly max for myself as well. That leaves us with very few options, and still a person $150 a month rent increase. Continue reading

Investing 101: What are REITs?

When it comes to investing, the beginner likely has heard of stocks and mutual funds, but there are a variety of other investment types that can make up a portfolio. In this “Investing 101” series, I’ll do my best to explain different investing opportunities as I understand them, and various things to know about each type of investment.

Today’s Investing 101: Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

A REIT is a company that owns income-producing real estate. You can buy a REIT like a stock, but you’re really investing in property (or someone else’s mortgage.)

According to REIT.com, to qualify as a REIT a company must have most of its assets and income tied to real estate investment and distribute at least 90 percent of its taxable income to its shareholders annually. To qualify as a REIT, an entity must not be “closely held,” meaning, at any time during the last half of the  taxable year, more than 50% in value of its outstanding stock cannot be owned, directly or indirectly, by or for not more than five individuals. Continue reading

Silicon Valley and San Francisco Housing Issues, About That.

As I’m wading deep in the hunt for my new Silicon Valley apartment, news of protesters – angry at rising rent prices in the city and nearby areas – smashing the windows of Google Buses – is all over my Facebook feed.  Over the past 10 years, 75,000 people have moved to San Francisco, but only 17,000 units of housing have been added. Thus, you have angry residents who are getting evicted from their supposedly affordable apartments in a few regions of SF that had yet to gentrify.

The argument by the protesters is largely to send this group of (supposedly) highly-paid elite down to the Peninsula and South Bay. What the stories are missing is that there’s not exactly a plethora of housing down here either. Well, maybe there is in the far South Bay, but the issue would just move to San Jose should suddenly all the young single tech types move down here. Continue reading

Apartment Hunting: The Search is On

After driving in what seemed like too many circles in a three-block radius, we parked in front of a tiny row of one-story apartments and walked inside. The 450 square feet “one bedroom” apartment led you into a tiny room straight from the doorway, with another even smaller room in the back. The walls, you could tell, were extremely thin, as neighbors a few apartments over playing music were providing atmospheric entertainment. We looked around for a second then got back in our car and left.

The tiny Mountain View apartment was listed for $1175 a month.

I’m rather spoiled but I care about having a living environment that makes me feel good. This is an issue of both space and natural light, as the rest I can forgive. It seems though both space and light come at a vast premium around these parts.

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Buy vs Rent: A New Thought

We’re moving in together. For real this time. For better or worse, we found out the place he’s currently living in is not a legal dwelling and thus he must move out. We were planning on moving in together this year, but this also expedites the planning and upcoming move.

While it might be dumb to consider buying something together now, I have a few ideas that could make this concept be more logical than irrational. Even though I occasionally mention moving back east at some point, the reality is that I want to stay in The Bay Area. I want to live here forever and have my kids born and grow up here. Continue reading

Should Parents Help Pay for a House?

It’s hypocritical of me to cringe when my boyfriend suggests that one day his mother might help us purchase a house. After all, my parents put me through college and didn’t require I pay back one cent. But, based on what they taught me, once college was done I was on my own. Want to go to grad school? That’s all on me. Want to go on a shopping spree and put myself into massive debt? My problem. Want to buy a house? Good luck and good riddance!

That’s why my nose chinches up when, in response to my commonly voiced concern — how are we ever going to afford a house to live in here — my boyfriend said “my mom will help.”

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What $1300 Rent Buys You In…

As many of you know, I currently live in a 3br/2ba apartment where my chunk of the rent is $650. I’d like to move into a place with my boyfriend where I can maintain the same rent, but around here that’s quite challenging. For fun, I decided to research what $1300 a month gets you in different parts of the country. And cried a little.

San Mateo, CA (Bay Area)

expensive rent in san mateo

400 sq ft “studio apartment” cottage
1 small walk-in closet
PG&E included
private entrance
stainless steal range, fridge, sink, no oven

Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL

850 sq ft
2br 1 ba condo
modern kitchen
washer/dryer in unit
private front yard

Santa Fe, New Mexico

1200 square feet, freestanding house
1br, 2ba w/ study
high-end finishes
washer/dryer in unit
large walk-in closet
private landscaped yard

Boise, Idaho

2205 sq ft
4br, 3ba plus bonus room
luxurious master bathroom
cathedral ceilings & gas fireplace

Pittsburgh, PA

1400 square feet
3br townhouse
holy shit this kitchen…

What does $1300 a month rent where you live?

Housing: To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question

I can’t afford a house. The cheapest houses here cost $700k and those have 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom and are major fixer uppers in not-so-nice areas. (Remind me again why I love the Bay Area?) But there are a few condos which fall into a price point that could make sense. $500k wouldn’t be that crazy (maybe?), if I were to liquidate all my stocks for $97k (well, it will be less than that due to taxes, but most of my stocks have been in there for a year so will qualify for 15% tax rate on profits.) Figure $80k from that, and I’d have to find $20k for a downpayment to have 20% down on a $500k property.

My credit score is a 724 (not perfect but still considered excellent to most lenders, I hear) so I should be able to get a pretty good rate. I don’t understand all the fees involved in buying, but I assume there will be quite a few added on to the total price of the condo, so that would mean I probably could only afford a $400k place. That would be basically enough for a decent 1br 1ba condo.

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