I have a confession. I spend nearly double what some of my friends pay for rent, and nearly 50% more than even my big-spender friends. Before you close this tab, hear me out. I swear I’m not crazy. I make this choice mindfully, and I know it’s the best decision for my life right now. Let me break it down for you.
I love working out of my apartment. It’s big (at least for this city), so I can fit a full-size desk. There are huge windows, so I don’t feel cooped up all day. If I lived in a tiny, dark apartment that left me depressed at the end of the day, I know I’d cave and work out of a coffee shop ($$$ on fancy drinks) or a coworking space ($$$$$). Savings: up to $80 to $300/month.
I live in a super safe area. When I walk to the subway I’m either by a police station, by doorman buildings, on busy streets or on a university campus. I don’t worry about walking home late at night. This is one of those things that you take for granted until you’re stuck without it. Savings: my life 🙂 (plus about $50 to $100/month if I always took taxis home late at night).
I live within a ten minute walk to a dozen subway lines. Twelve subway lines. That is Times Square-level stuff, but without the tourist mobs. Since I work from home, it’s important to me to have a social life outside work. Friends are more inclined to come over if they don’t have to switch trains. If somebody invites me to hang out after work, I’m more likely to say yes when it’s so easy to meet up. Since I have limited human interaction during the day, seeing friends keeps me from becoming a dog lady. Savings: my social life.
I have a dishwasher and live near a grocery store. When I lived in an apartment without said appliance, I ordered food in waaaaay more to avoid cleaning up after myself. I know it’s a bad habit, but this dishwasher completely changed my behavior with no effort on my part. I live a five minute walk from a well-stocked grocery store, and directly above a 24-hour, hipster-food bodega. Ran out of quinoa? It’s downstairs. Savings from cooking at home more: at least $100/month.
I live close, but not too close, to hip/happening/stuff-to-do neighborhoods. When I want to see a movie, there’s a theater I can walk to. I can get to plenty of bars and restaurants, but they’re all at least a 15 minute walk away. I’d rather drink cheap wine and have taco night with my boyfriend than walk 20 minutes to a Mexican place. I make my own kind of gross instant mocha drinks at home (I have weird taste in coffee). Savings from skipping fancy date nights, coffee runs, and eating out: about $100/month.
There’s laundry in my apartment. This doesn’t save tons of money, since our electric bill is a bit higher, but it does save loads (ha) of time. It also means that when the dog has an accident on our bath mat, we just throw it in the washing machine and move on with our day. Savings after accounting for higher electric bill: $15/month.
There’s a free gym in the building. It’s not huge, but since it’s a small building there’s almost always a treadmill available. Since we moved here I got back in shape, trained for a 5k, and regained that healthy feeling you get from regular exercise. Savings on a gym membership: $20 to $100/month. Savings by living a healthy lifestyle: priceless 😉
There’s a 24-hour doorman. How does this save money, you ask? He accepts packages for us even if we’re not home. Buying dog supplies, non-perishable food, and miscellaneous purchases on the internet is a huge money-saver, and something I couldn’t take advantage of in my old apartment since I would usually miss deliveries (and packages can’t be left at the door here). Dog food is usually at least 30% off on Amazon, shopping online at Walmart can save as much as 50% on items like toilet paper and cereal, and I’ve even saved 20% on boots by buying on Zappos instead of Macy’s. Savings: over $40/month.
This is a dog-friendly building (and management is lax). There’s technically a one-time pet fee of $200, but nearly nobody pays it and there’s no punishment for skipping it. Some buildings have yearly fees up to $500. Savings: up to $40/month when you divide out the fees.
Some less obvious money-savers (for me and my loved ones):
- Our apartment is big enough for several guests to stay at once, meaning friends and family don’t have to shell out hundreds on hotels just to visit.
- My mom uses our neighbor’s pool. We have access to the pool in the building next door, so my mom saves about $50 in YMCA guest passes whenever she visits us (she swims laps every day—go mom!).
- There was no broker’s fee or move-in fee because fancy buildings have their own leasing offices. Our movers also charged us less because we moved into an elevator building. Plus, since we like it so much, we won’t have to pay moving-related fees how we would if we were unhappy with our situation and kept moving around.
- Since I live by the subway that goes straight to the airport, I save between $60 to $80 every time I opt to take public transport instead of a taxi to catch my flight.
- My boyfriend has a short, walking commute to work, so he doesn’t have to buy a $116.50 unlimited metro card every month (he estimates that he spends about $50 on single rides every month).
- Since I live close to tons of subway lines and have a fairly big space, I always host birthday gatherings at my apartment (cheap food + alcohol instead of $14 cocktails).
Most of my friends with super cheap rent have none of these benefits. It’s true that they could save money by having different habits (they might not want a gym membership, for example). In that case, kudos to them for finding ways to save!
I know myself, though, and for me the savings are big. Since I moved out of my cheaper apartment and started working for myself, my credit card bill has been lower by about $325 to $500 every month. This doesn’t take into account the $80 to $300/month that I save by working out of my apartment instead of a coffeeshop or coworking space. After adding those would-be expenses, my savings increase to about $405 to $800 every month.
I save so much on non-rent expenses that it balances out my higher rent, so that my total monthly living expenses come out to a pretty average number for this city. And I don’t underestimate the happy-factor of a living situation I love. Saving money is important, but what’s the point if you don’t enjoy your life?
And that, ladies and gents, is why I pay almost double what my friends spend on rent.