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.

If I get this new job, my salary will increase. A lot of it will be in the form of a bonus so it will be variable (which makes me nervous!) Nonetheless, assuming this goes through, my base will increase by $15k, or about $750 after tax per month. With the bonus, I potentially could see a maximum of $1500 per month after tax. Even though I won’t be making as much as I had hoped, I’ll be doing very well for myself. The job will be extremely challenging and I’ll have to work my ass off day in and day out to prove that I’m worth it, but really it’s crazy to think about where I’m at now in terms of compensation. I’ve approached that sweet spot in my life where I can make good money and, as long as I choose not to squander it, I can focus on a few years of solid savings before popping out a kid or two.

The job isn’t a sure thing (my negotiation skills may have gotten my offer rescinded, we’ll see.) I’ll know by tomorrow. I think I might have a heart attack with all the stress that goes into changing jobs AND moving. Oy gavult. I need a vacation.  If only there were time for it in between jobs!

Anyway, the focus right now – other than securing this new job that I’m super excited about – is figuring out where to live, and how much I should pay for it. The sky is the limit. If I’m going to be taking home $7k after tax, why not spend $1500 on rent? That really is reasonable. For $2350 we could get a decent one bedroom. I’d be paying a lot more for rent, but I also make a lot more, so that’s fair, I guess. I just have always been so frugal when it comes to living expenses so I could focus on saving, what’s another few years of living on the cheaper side. Maybe I could do $1000, bringing us to $1850 / month (which really seems to be the minimum for a place I can live in here.) I just wanted to have it be 50/50 – at least for the first year we live together. I’ll pay extra for cable because I need my house hunters and SVU marathons while he could care less. I’m just torn over how much I should spend above and beyond matching his $850. Then again, I probably should focus on securing this job first, and then figuring it out later.



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8 thoughts on “How Much Should I Really Pay for Rent?”

  1. >> I’ll have to work my ass off day in and day out to prove that I’m worth it<<
    This is bad wrong.
    I think it appropriate to work one's ass off because one wants to do a good job. But not because one needs to prove they are worth it.
    How about embracing that there is nothing to prove. How about accepting that there is no one's worth that needs proving. How about working hard simply because you want to do a good job. That's all.
    By thinking you need to prove something about yourself, you are perpetuating all the destructiveness and self-destructiveness you are trying to escape from.

  2. Not sure what part of SF bay you are in – East Bay? South Bay? but can you split a 2-bedroom apartment with another person? It might not be ideal to get a roommate, but I’m sure you can get a big master bedroom with an attached bath in a house-share/apartment-share situation for under $1,700. That way you’ll have the space and the budget.

    1. Yes, this is a possibility. I know it’s not the smartest financially but I’ve been living with roommates for a long time now and I REALLY want to move into a 1 bedroom with my boyfriend. We’re both introverts and more than anything in the world I want to be able to come home to a house with just us. I’m willing to pay a bit more for that, I think.

  3. You’re gonna be making a base of $135k and a potential bonus of an extra $20k and you’re freaking out about paying $1500 a month in rent. That’s 13% of your base income. Traditionally, they say less than 28% of your income so I think you’d be doing just fine at less than half of it. You need to get over this unhealthy relationship you have with money, relax a little, and start enjoying some of your money. You don’t have to go crazy, but there’s also no reason to live in poverty in an apartment that will make you miserable every night. If you don’t enjoy it, then why are you working so hard to earn it?

    1. My base will be $125k not $135k. Bonus is $30k. Anyway, I realize that $1500 a month is not a large percentage of my income. That said, I never feel like my jobs are stable (part of this is paranoia, part of this is life working for startups.) After a few more jobs I’ll be at a place where I’ll feel confident I could get another gig quickly should things turn south for some reason. But for now, I want to know if I have to go on unemployment for some reason I can cover my basic living expenses without dipping too much into savings.

      The other thing is that once I have kids I’ll invest more in my home. I do enjoy my money now — I spent a good $3k on my trip to Asia last year and I frequently travel to visit friends and family. I consider my travel money part of rent. The more I spend on rent, the less I can afford on travel.

      Also — at 30 years old the more I can save and invest now, the more I’ll have later. As I get older the compound interest becomes less attractive. But I’m still pretty young where if I can put away $50k this year it will have many years to grow. Delayed gratification? I’m not going to live in a shithole but I really enjoy saving money! I plan to spend much more after I hit 35. If I can be frugal for next 5 years and save $75k per year (including interest) that will get me to $625k in networth at 35. If I have $625k in networth at 35 I won’t be rich but I’ll have a sizable enough cushion that I’ll stop being so concerned about spending a little more to live a slightly above average good life. 🙂

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