Tag Archives: apartment

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?

Rent Increase: Just 2%

My roommate informed me that our landlord is raising our rent in 2012. I was worried it was going to be a huge increase, given we haven’t had rents raised in a while, and at my last “property management-owned” complex where my rent was increased 22% the first year and 18% the next (from $900 to $1100 to $1300 when I finally got out and got roommates again.)

My rent started out at my current place at $602.50 for my room (I share an apartment with two other girls.) Shortly after I moved in my rent was raised to $632.50 per month, which was still less than half of what my former studio was charging. In 2012, my rent will go up to a whopping $647.50 a month. I just looked up the current cost for my old studio, and it’s now listed at $1570 – $1705 per month! For a studio! Yikes, I’m glad I left. That would be eating up half of my income now, and back then it would have eaten up all of it.

However, looking at my old apartment rent increases is a good reminder how important it is to try to get a yearly raise to at least keep with the rate of inflation, and hopefully a little extra. Since the beginning of my career, I’ve managed to take my raises by switching jobs and factoring in what I should be making, even if I never got a raise at my earlier company.

However, now that I plan to stay at one company for a long time, I know I must focus on figuring out a way to obtain reasonable pay raises or better in the coming years. I’m not too concerned about the price in rent at my current apartment, but what if my elderly landlord decides to sell the condo for one reason or another, and I have to move to a place that costs more.

How much do you pay for rent? How much did you pay in 2010?

She Really Doesn’t Want to Move

In 3 months, my two roommates will be moving out. And I will either be moving out also, or have successfully found two new roommates. Stressful moments of being a renter like these are the few times I think paying for a mortgage would be worth it. (Then again, in the Bay Area, the only place I could afford would be crooked and vertigo inducing or burnt and dirty — see the San Jose Mercury News cover story on Bay Area homes you can buy for the national medium home price.)

Today, I met up with a girl i know who has an apartment in another Silicon Valley City. It’s a 2br/1ba. Her roommate is moving out in July, so the plan today was to look at her apartment and extra room, and then for her to come look at my apartment. Her apartment is very small and, well, it feels like an apartment. It doesn’t feel like a home. That can be fixed, but it’s just so tiny. And the rent is higher than my current place because it’s a 2br. So rent there for a room that’s smaller than my current room in an apartment that’s not as nice would be $725.

My place is a 3br/2ba with a large room for $770 and two smaller rooms for $635. Free laundry in the apartment. A pool in the complex. The apartment is right off the highway. It’s 30 minutes or less to my office. And the more I thought about it today, the more I realized… I really don’t want to move.

So, I could just tell the girl I met up with that I’m not interested in her place. I bet she’s going to want to stay there because it’s close to her bf. We also discussed looking at other places when it gets closer to July, but it’s such a pain because we both would have to give 30 days notice, and we couldn’t even really start looking until the month before we’d have to move.

And… moving, on its own, is expensive and a pain. Renting a UHaul, dragging all your stuff from your place to the next place, it’s just no fun at all. So I’ve decided that unless I find an incredible place to move to, I really want to stay here. The hard part will be finding two roommates. It would be nice if this girl wanted to move in here, into the cheaper room. That way we can rearrange the rents so the two cheaper rooms are $575 each, and the larger room is $870. I think that’s fair since the larger room is giant, has a walk in closet and a big closet, and a private bathroom.

Hmmm…. this is really bumming me out right now.

Rental Prices Rising as Housing Stuck in Slump: Or, The Tiniest Apartment in NYC

When people don’t want to buy houses (or are forced out of their houses because they can’t afford them) that means one thing: rental costs are going up. It’s a simple law of supply and demand. Reis Inc’s quarterly report showed the vacancy rate dropped to 6.2 percent in the first three months of the year, down from 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter. It was the steepest fall since the commercial real estate research firm began tracking the market in 1999.

Increased employment, especially for 20- to 34-year-olds, is spurring demand for housing. Many of those newly employed younger people, however, cannot come up with the tens of thousands of dollars often needed for down payments, turning them into renters. — Reuters

However, not everyone is letting rising rents get to them, even in the world’s most expensive cities. Renters, for frugal inspiration, 40 Year Old Felice Cohen — a professional organizer in New York City — shows that you don’t need to spend a lot to live in an expensive area, you just need to be, well, extremely organized. And be willing to sleep 23 inches from your ceiling. This woman spends $700 a month in NYC on a 90-square-foot closet apartment… closet. You have to see this (if you haven’t yet)…

20-Something Life in The City vs. The Burbs

It’s Sunday morning, and I roll out of bed after a much-needed full night of rest and stare out my window. One roommate is up, clanking around the kitchen, but otherwise, there is just a slight breeze that can be heard through the windows and silence.

It’s all too tempting to remain in my bed another hour longer as there really isn’t anything to jump out of bed to do. In order to get anywhere, I have to drive at least 10 minutes away. To get to the city, it’s an hour drive give or take. So, while I’d love to head to Golden Gate Park for a run, instead, I lie in bed, and imagine what it would be like to live in the city.

When I moved out to the Bay Area in 2005, I always assumed I’d end up in San Francisco. But, instead, I’ve managed to live just about everywhere within an hour radius around the city and never in it.

There’s a part of me that feels like I need to experience city life now, before I get “old” and have a family and a reason to trap myself in the ‘burbs. Right now, there’s a piece of satisfaction with life I’m missing, and I think that has a large part to do with not living in the city. I want to be able to go to a figure drawing open session on Tuesday night… or Thurs night. And make new friends that are my age who like to go out and do… things.

Right now, I’m in a coffee shop in San Francisco near the Lower Haight, and the energy here is so city Sunday. Soft music plays, people are talking, reading, enjoying the day. Through the glass in front of me are four women, probably in their early 30s, enjoying a relaxing lunch, the SF version of Sex & the City (more hoodies, ponytails, but probably similar conversation.) And I want that… I want a life outside of work and watching reruns at my boyfriend’s house.

July 1 I have the opportunity to move… I can either stay close to work, or… maybe it’s the right time to make the move to the city. It would mean an hour-long commute to work, and more expensive rent, but it could also mean finding the missing link between my life today and my happiness.

What do you think? Do you live in a city or suburbs? Does living in a city help one be happy and feel more connected in her 20s/30s?

Moving On… Out?

Sure, there have been moments where I wanted to pull my hair out living with my current roommates, and I’ve been guilty of causing these moments in return, but the past 2.5 years living in this apartment have been some of the most stable in my life. This has been the apartment of my mid 20s, and now it’s time to figure out the housing situation of my late 20s.

My current apartment — a room in a 3br, 2ba in a nice condo complex in the Bay Area burbs (next to houses that cost $1.5M+) cost me $632.50 a month. The room is small, but big enough for a full size bed, and has a wide widow overlooking greenery, blocking the parking area from view. It has large sliding mirror doors on the closet, which makes it seem more spacious, and much better than the room I first lived in when I moved to the Bay Area (in Burlingame) that cost $450 a month but really felt like a closet.

The rest of the apartment is nice. It has a balcony that I rarely use, a large living room / dining room space, full kitchen, the full bathroom that I share with one other girl, and another full master bedroom with its own private bathroom. The cost breakdown between myself and my roommates has never seemed totally fair… the private bedroom with walk in closet and private bath is $770 a month, where the much smaller bedrooms are $632 each. But I’d prefer to have access to a bath (not shower only) and like the window in my room, so never bothered to complain. The complex is nice, has its own small park-like area, and a pool that I’ve used probably 6 times total since I moved in (but enjoyed greatly on the rare really really hot days of summer.) And the location is pretty good too. It’s about 25 minutes to work, 30-45 minutes to the city sans traffic by car, 10 minutes to my boyfriends house, 5-10 minutes to the supermarket. I’m right by a freeway exit (off the better freeway in the Peninsula.) Oh, and there’s a washer and dryer in the unit!!!

So why move? Well, maybe I won’t. But whether or not I move, there are some major changes coming, because both of my roommates are moving out. One is moving out for her school program, she’s relocating to Southern California. The other is moving in with her girlfriend and closer to work. That leaves me with one 3br, 2ba apartment and no roommates.

While my landlord may choose to increase the price of the apartment when my roommates move out, they may not if I can find immediate replacements. And there are only a few reasons why I’d want to leave…

1) Finding two new roommates is going to be very difficult, and I’ve had so many bad roommate experiences before, that maybe I want to live alone right now

2) The location is ok, but it’s really inconvenient for biking anywhere as it’s up a giant hill. I’d like to live somewhere that makes it possible to bike to work, and use my car less.

3) Maybe now is the opportunity to move to the city. I’ve always wanted to live in San Francisco, and it makes a lot more sense to do it in my 20s/ early 30s, versus when I am ready to have kids and settle down. That said, it would be kind of dumb to move to the city right now, as it would increase my commute time. There are rooms in the city for the same price I’m paying now, or even less, but the apartments wouldn’t be as nice as the one I live in, and they’d also probably not be in the areas I’d want to live in the city (if I’m going to keep my cost the same)

4) Should I find a place that’s cheaper? 632.50 is not bad for a room where I live, but I could feasibly find a place that’s $500. It may not have its own laundry in the apartment, it may require a longer commute, but I could save more money (or have more money to spend on things I need like a car, mental healthcare, etc.)

So… I’m not sure what to do. I’m scouring Craigslist on a daily basis but it’s too early to look. My roommates and I have decided that our move-out date will likely be July 1, which means I can’t really start looking until Mid-to-late May. So that’s three months of driving myself nuts over this.

It could be a great opportunity to be in control of finding my new roommates for this place… but, to be honest, I’m just tired of having roommates. I want something more private, a place I can be a recluse in when I don’t need to be around people. Where I can watch American Idol in peace. But that dream is expensive. When I lived alone previously my rent skyrocketed from $905 a month to $1300 a month in just two years. I feel much wiser paying $600 a month vs $1300! Then again, if I was paying $1300 a month or more it would be an easier decision to BUY a place vs renting. Right now I think I’m doing pretty good renting. I’m able to put a good chunk of change into my investment accounts.

Is it better to own a studio apartment and put all my savings each month into that, or just put all that money into my investment accounts? Plus… with my mental instability (the joys of bipolar II) I think I need the freedom of not being locked into anything (like a mortgage OR expensive rent payments.) I guess I will just have to wait until May/June to figure this out. I’m so tempted to move to the city, but that’s probably an awful idea. What do you think?

Security Deposit Bounced – IRX on Bank Statement

My last apartment sent my security deposit to my permanent mailing address… in NJ. So it took a few months for me to get that check. I cashed it a few weeks ago, but apparently it was too old, and it bounced. I saw “IRX” on my bank statement for $585 and didn’t know what that meant, but thanks to Google I figured it out.

So now, on top of voting against Prop 8 and for Obama, tomorrow I have to figure out how to get my security deposit. It will be a busy day.

Speaking of apartments and housing, my current living arrangement is great. Moving here was the best decision I’ve made in a long, long time. I’m saving so, so much money. Instead of living in my last apartment, which would have cost me $1200 a month this year (!!!) + cable and internet, I’m paying just $612.50 a month + about $50 – $60 for bills. So $700 compared to $1300 a month. Sure, I have less space, but I don’t really need that much space. And living with roommates is pretty fun, as long as the roommates are fun and laid back.

Stocks are slowly going up. I’m worried for Obama. That’s all for today.

Moving on Down, and Saving My Pennies

My rent has gone from $1050 a month to about $650 a month. This move, which is saving me a good $400+ a month, is probably the best decision I’ve made in my life. Even though my gas $ will be going up, I still think I’m going to end up saving at least $300 a month, and that doesn’t even include the additional $250 that I would have had to pay if I stayed at my apartment and accepted the ridiculous rent increase.

It’s kind of weird making these smart financial decisions now. I always relied on my dad to make those in the past. I didn’t go totally overboard on my living situation previously, but given how much I was making, I definitely should have gotten roommates. Now, I’m making enough to live alone, barely, but I’ve realized that just because you make enough money to spend it, doesn’t mean you actually should.

Instead, I’m going to really focus on saving money now. I’m pretty sure I want to go back to grad school at some point, prob for a degree in Human Computer Interaction (Berkeley has an awesome program) and I’m starting to take programming classes at the local community college (which happens to be a few minute walk from my new apartment) to make sure that’s the right path for me – but I’m pretty sure it is. I need to learn the programming side and the research side, and then I’m ready to become a key player in web 3.0…

In the meantime, I’m dealing with some other things. Speaking of my father and his wisdom, it won’t be around for much longer. He was recently diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer. I knew he probably had cancer, but wasn’t really prepared to hear this. Basically that means he has a few years to live, at best. Well, what this means, besides all the emotional havoc it’s having on me and my family, is that all that money I’m saving on not renting the more expensive place might be spent on plane tickets. It costs about $400 to fly across the country these days. Ugh.

And it really is going to be time for me to step in and help my parents with sorting out finances for the future. My mom is such a duntz when it comes to that sort of stuff – I get my bad spending habits from her. My dad’s mostly a saver, and I’d like to be more like him. It makes me nervous to think that I’m going to have to take over for him, at some point.

Meanwhile, just the thought of losing him is really hard to deal with. We’re not really that close, and for most of my life I hated the guy, but he’s done a lot for me and my family outside of the mental and physical abuse, including working hard for most of his life and making sure we had enough money to live very comfortably. It’s tough to know that he’s worked so hard for most of his years – he just retired like a year or two ago – even though he is only in his late 50s – and now he’s looking at the end. He won’t get to enjoy retirement or that huge 401k he’s accumulated. Or he likely won’t… besides facing the fact that the cancer treatment will stop working in 1-10 years, he also is dealing with so many other medical issues. He can’t even enjoy his last few years on this earth, because all he does is sleep all day. I can’t tell how much is because he’s weak and how much is just depression. Regardless, it makes me sad to think of the life he’s led, working so hard, married to a woman he doesn’t love, saving up for retirement… and then, he gets to retirement, and he’s sick, and he’s dying…

It makes you think twice about the value of saving so much for so long. Not that I won’t be putting money away for retirement or focusing on getting and staying healthy so I can live to enjoy it, but… some people don’t make it that far. And our entire society is set up to work and work and save and save… but then what? What if that’s all you get?

Live Within Your Means

While being interviewed for a television news feature about frugal living and saving money, I realized that despite being fully aware of ways to save, I’m just not doing enough when it comes to saving money. With gas prices rising, and my rent being what it was, I was breaking even at best most months, or covering the prior month’s expenditures with my next month’s savings.

While that’s better than going into debt, it won’t get me the things I want to save for – getting my teeth fixed ($10k), laser hair removal ($6k?), a condo/house (an $80k downpayment?), and grad school ($120k?). That’s a lot of money I have to save above and beyond the basic emergency fund and other living costs.

As many of you know, my rent was skyrocking up to $1300 this year and while I could pay that with my current income, it would basically cost me my savings plan.

So I left my apartment, without knowing where my next home would be. This month I’m staying with a friend for a measly $350, as she’s being so kind to let me crash in her spare bedroom. That’s helping me make up a little of what I spent on my vacation in Israel… I spent way too much there, figuring I could make it up when I returned and found a cheaper place to rent. That, indeed, is what I’m going to do.

I found a place that I like, and it has a lot of the features I was looking for. And my rent is going from $1050 to about $670 per month, after utilities (except internet/cable). I’ll be splitting the internet & cable bill 3 ways, so instead of it costing me $100 per month, it will be just $30. Total savings, based on last years rent, is about $350 per month, or $3750 per year. Based on the rent I was supposed to pay this year, I’m saving $600 per month, or $7200 per year.

While that’s not the $80k I need for the downpayment on a house, or even the $10k to get my teeth fixed, it’s a lot better than wasting that money on rent.

My new room is small. I’ll be sharing a bathroom. I’ll be paying a bit more in gas to actually get places since it’s close to a freeway but not that close to work. Biking to work is no longer an option. But the place, for the price, is rather nice. It has a washer and dryer in unit, plus a dishwasher, and a nice community pool. The complex is a mix of owners and renters, so the property is well maintained. The owners of the specific condo that I’m renting are supposedly nice (I haven’t met them yet) and haven’t even raised the rent in a while – much better than the money-hungry apartment management company that took over my last complex and those $250 a year rent increases!

So… while my savings has depleted itself a bit during the last few months, I’m confident I can make back most of that money within 12 months. Or at least I hope I can. And then the real saving will begin.

An Update on the Little Big Move

I’m moving out of my apartment. This weekend. I’m kind of unhappy about it. But deep down, and not-so deep down, I know it’s for the best. Spending about $1300 a month on rent, even with utilities included, even with a job that pays me enough where it’s possible, makes no sense at all.

What I need to do is save up for a house. Saving up for a house in this area requires a lot of sacrifice. It might even be logistically impossible. But I want to try.

Next month I’m cutting my “room” costs by staying with a friend. It’s just a temporary thing en route to my new, yet-to-be-determined place. I offered to pay her rent, but the most she’ll accept is $350. She prob should take more, but I said I’d buy her lots of meals so hopefully at some point I won’t feel like I’m jipping her. Add to that about $200 in storage fees, and my monthly rent, at least for July, has been cut in half.

The big question is – how much will I spend on my next real place. There are so many options and – as I’m a bit picky when it comes to (everything) where I live, I find that most of the places I like are going to be pricey. Maybe not the full $1300 my current studio would cost me to stay in, but not far from it.

I’ve seen a few places so far. The only one I liked at all was a small garage-turned-studio in the back of someone’s house, but it was missing one very important thing – a closet. I’ve got too many clothes to live sans closet. Oh, and it didn’t have a stove either. Just a hot plate. But it’s not like I really cook all that often (though I plan to) so I guess I could deal without the stove.

Other than one place I tried to check out yesterday (the guy stood me up, hmmph), I’ve put off looking at places until after I get settled into my friend’s house. I’m looking prob for an Aug 1 move-in now, so most of the places haven’t been posted yet.

I really wish I had enough money for a down payment right now. There are so many houses on the market around here, it’s ridiculous. I went down one street today and within a single block, three houses were for sale. It’s nuts!

But instead I’m going to waste more money on rent for the indeterminate future. It’s not the end of the world. I just feel like now I should be living in some shit hole and spending very little in order to save my pennies. And by shit-hole I mean “nice shit-hole in the good part of town.” Heck, the place I lived in for my first few months here was only $580 a month, utilities included. Of course, I had 3 roommates – 4 if you count the roommates’ boyfriend that lived there practically, and for a while there the gal who was supposed to be providing me with “utilities included” wifi decided she didn’t want to deal with getting it fixed (uh, and I needed it for my job). But that place was in a really nice area. So these things are possible to find. Maybe not at $580 in the renter’s market right now, but maybe something around $800…

I saw one 2br/2ba that was right around the corner from my worth that was going for $850, utilities included. Pretty good deal. The apartment complex had a pool too. But it was kind of run down. And the smell was getting to me.

See, I’m picky.

I can move further south and get something nicer for the same price. If I get a place near the train that’d be ideal. I don’t know if I’d sell my car (what would it be worth now that I’ve banged it up so much driving into inanimate objects?) but I think I’d still save money not paying for gas. It’s at $4.70 a gallon around here. Not driving sounds like a really good plan if I want to save any money at all.