Category Archives: Real Estate & Rent

Is Cable Television Worth the Cost?

Every evening when I get home from work, I usually run 10 miles and then follow that up with completing a new 500+ page book. Just kidding. I sit in front of the tv and veg out. For better or worse, mindlessly flipping through the channels is what I do. It helps calm me down after a long day. It is a huge waste of time yet it is one of those things that brings a little joy to my life. Who doesn’t love falling asleep to a House Hunter’s marathon?

I haven’t actually watched a ton of TV living with my roommates in my previous apartment because they had control of the living room area and I generally hibernated in my room, where my cable connection didn’t work. I still spent some time when they were out on the living room couch enjoying a few hours of random shows. And I always thought that one day when I moved in with my boyfriend in my own apartment I’d finally have access to the television whenever my heart desired.

Now, however, I have quite a first-world dilemma on my hands — determining whether I should get cable television, an alternative, or avoid tv altogether (maybe so I can run 10 miles a night and read a few classics at the end of a long day.) My bf isn’t interested in television so he refuses to split the cost with me, so it gets quite expensive as a solo bill. With internet connection, for the first year cable (without the fancy channels like HBO and Showtime) will be $70 per month. That seems somewhat reasonable, but that’s just the year one special. It can go up to $100 or more per month the second year. Yikes. Do I really want tv that badly?

There are a few different options… AT&T vs Comcast. Alternatives like Hulu Plus or Netflix or Apple TV. Yet I’m not much of a series watcher, I’m more of a channel surfer. It’s a guilty pleasure and I miss it. Yet the cost, which was reasonable split 3 ways in my last apartment, is no longer something that makes sense when I have to cover it on my own. Cable TV for $600 per year (year 2) OR… well, spend it on something more useful than rotting my brain with repeats of law and order SVU.

How much per month do you currently spend on internet and/or cable?

 

Put in Our Application – The Waiting Game Begins

Wouldn’t it be nice if spending $400 per month more than I wanted to on an apartment would guarantee that the place would be ours? Yes, our 700-square-foot one bedroom, should we secure the affinity of our potential landlord, will be $2200 per month. Not even the commitment to pay that much for a relatively small (and outdated) place gets us immediate confirmation.

At least we have good credit scores. I ran mine again (*expletive* Experian for being the most scammy spammy company around) and I’m  at 738. My boyfriend has a crazy good credit score over 760. I messed mine up with one or two late credit card payments in the past, but this was very clearly me forgetting the date to pay and not long-term collections type issues. However, the landlord seemed a little nervous when I told her I was changing jobs and going to work for a “startup.” I quickly responded “don’t worry, they’ve raised a lot of money. And we have enough in the bank to pay for a year of rent even if for some reason we ever did lose our jobs. Come on, how could you turn us down? Continue reading

Just Pick a Place Already You Two!

My boyfriend and I are terrible – terrible – at making decisions. He’s so terrible at making decisions at 31 he has never left his house and after eight years of dating we’ve never moved in together. I’m slightly less terrible at making decisions, but I am not anywhere near good at making them either.

So finding an apartment is an extremely difficult #firstworldproblems challenge. We’ve seen over 40 apartments and every one is not up to my standard of living, especially for the price they charge! I always thought if I decided to move to San Francisco I’d be ok with paying an exorbitant amount for rent, but it feels wrong to pay so much to live in the burbs. I don’t care how great the town is.

Continue reading

Moving in With the Boyfriend: Part 932592

Today, I decided to stop being quite so stingy. I agreed to split rent with my boyfriend based on our income. If we spend 13% of our current income, he would pay around $850 and I would pay up to $1350. That means our maximum monthly rent is $2200, not $1700 like I was originally aiming for when I wanted to do a 50/50 split. That also makes this search process slightly less painful.

I’d still prefer to spend less than $1200 a month in rent, and I’m ok with paying that much while he covers $850. It’s fair given our different income levels and either I need to be ok with paying more for our lives and deal or I need to seriously consider getting a new boyfriend. As I love him and want to marry him, I’m going with the first option. Continue reading

Is Buying a House a Good Investment?

There are many schools of thought in terms of whether buying a house should be considered an investment. I’m not sure. What I do know is that it’s expensive to rent a decent apartment and it’s unlikely I’ll splurge on on a nicer apartment when I know I’m throwing rental money “down the drain,” so to speak. My quality of life, therefore, would undoubtedly be better if I were to buy. That doesn’t mean such a choice would make sense as an investment, however.

The Motley Fools poses “Your Home Isn’t a Good Investment and Won’t Make You Rich.” Real Estate has generally appreciated 4% to 5% a year on average, compared to 9.1% for an S&P index fund and 7.16% for the “safe” 30-year Treasury. Then mortgages make your house cost more than it’s worth (and you’re throwing THAT money away too. “There are good investments in real estate, but your home isn’t one of them” the post argues. A rental property, where tenants pay rent that covers the mortgage, can earn 9.8% vs just 3.4% for a lived-in property. A commenter notes that rental property can end up with an even higher return, especially once the mortgage is payed down and all that’s left is rental income that has increased over the years. Continue reading

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