Vancouver’s average price for a 2-bedroom unit is $1,345/month, and that ridiculous price doesn’t even go away once you leave city limits. I live in nearby Richmond and my place would hit the market at $1,400. Experts recommend budgeting 30% of your income for housing costs, so let’s figure out how much you’d need to earn to meet that criteria… HOLY SHIT, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? $4,483.33?!? I make that much, but I’m a special case. I have other sources of income, and I have 2.5 jobs. I also – since I’m not as dumb as I look – live with two other people and their combined rent is $950.43! With that, ALL my housing bills are covered and I HAVE ZERO RENT. I make sure my living costs are as low as possible, and I’ll show you how to do that too.
“What’s your current rent and how many people are you living with?”
I was messaging Ben about his new living situation. He’d been in New York for a few months now, and I knew he’d upgraded a few things in his lifestyle. It’s weird to think he’d probably hit FI by 31 or 32 if he’d stayed just as frugal as before. I tried not to think about my debt. He messaged back.
“$1,400, and I live with one other person. There’s definitely cheaper places, but it’s a pretty nice apartment in Park Slope (Brooklyn), and a pretty nice area. Almost double the $750 I was paying in Vancouver.”
“$1,400 and that’s all you?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s $2,800 total.”
I probed a little more and estimated his place to be about 800 square feet. This was a different world to me. Two-bedroom apartments in New York go for an average of $3,631. Ben had upgraded his lifestyle, but he still found a way to get a deal. Good for him.
Meanwhile, I started messaging one of my artist friends.
“Quick! I need rent numbers for an article!” I said.
“Me personally 200 but that’s cause the people I’m living with are cutting me some slack,” she typed back.
I probed a little more. She was living with her boyfriend in his parents’ home and had a room to herself. Not bad. My girlfriend pays $316.81 and shares a room with me.
Okay, I had what I needed.
I don’t know why, but many 20- and 30-somethings regard living alone as some sort of achievement. When questioned about it, they’ll often say something like “I hate living with roommates”. Uh, maybe screen your fucking roommates and take the initiative to cut ties if a roommate relationship becomes toxic? I get it’s not always easy, BUT NEITHER IS PAYING $2,800 IN RENT ON YOUR OWN. I’ve been dumped as a roommate before, and it sucked, but making the decision to share your living expenses with ANYONE YOU CAN LIVE WELL WITH is a time investment worth making.
If I wanted it, my place could be just me and my girlfriend. I’d lose $633.62 in rent from my roommate though. That’s $7,603.44/year. WHY WOULD I DO THAT? In fact, we love that silly bastard. He cooks and cleans, and it’s honestly nice having someone else in the place while either my girlfriend or I are off at work. We’re not the only couple that has an extra roommate either. For a brief period, S&D were paying $1,800 for an 1,800-square-foot house, and they brought on a roommate at $550/month, or $6,600/year. That’s nothing to sneeze at. A hypothetical person paying New York prices at $2,800/month by himself is crazy by comparison! This proud idiot is throwing away $33,600/year, which is more than a lot of us millennials make! I LIVE FOR FREE. MY ARTIST FRIEND LIVES FOR $2,400. MY GIRLFRIEND LIVES FOR $3,801.72. Even working with the last figure, my girlfriend theoretically comes out $29,798.28/year ahead of this NYC guy who dislikes roommates. Know what happens if you put that money in a 7% investment every year from the time you’re 40-65? OVER TWO MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS.
I encourage everyone to have a roommate, even if you don’t “need” one. Crunch some numbers, and you’ll realize you need one more than you thought. Besides, living with people at any stage of your life is actually good for you. Living alone increases risk of death.
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