You Don’t Have To Live Alone

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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.

More info on my living situation here.

*****

“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.

Need a roommate? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

My 99-Year Leasehold and Why It’s Fucking Awesome

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Here, read this.

Are you back? Good. Most people aren’t even aware of 99-year leaseholds. If this sounds right for you, like if you never intend to have kids, I may have just saved you a few hundred thousand. Buy me a beer sometime!

Anyway, I have an enviable Home for my age. I’m 27 and I have 71+ years of Rent paid off with my leasehold. That’s what 99-year leaseholds are: paying ≤99 years of Rent all in one go, and reaping the benefits of Home Ownership. Mine worked out to $170,000, or $199.53/month. I own my property and the right to live there until 2087. Technically, I don’t own the land underneath it, but I’ll be dead by 99 and really don’t care. I’ll never need a mortgage, and I’ll never need a freehold. I don’t plan on having kids. I guess I’m set! Even if I change my mind and sell the remaining years when I’m 65, there’ll still be 33+ years left on the lease! I estimate I’ll be able to get AT LEAST $120,000 for the remaining years. $50,000 to live somewhere for 38 years? That’s $109.65/month.

Wait, it gets crazier. My place is over 1,000 square feet and has two bedrooms. My girlfriend’s moving in on May 1, and with my current roommate staying, I’ll be collecting $950.43 from them in Rent. $633.62 of that gets eaten up by miscellaneous building maintenance fees, and the remaining $316.81 pays literally ALL MY BILLS. Electrics, Internet, Netflix, Rogers. Right now, I have zero Expenses aside from Food, Alcohol and Entertainment, and I was able to pull it off with my Rental Property.

A key thing to note about this is you don’t live forever. Take a moment and ask yourself why you REALLY want to own your place, freehold and all. Is it an investment? Is it for status? Are you hoping to pass it down? Now ask yourself: Is this worth extending your career OVER 33% MORE?

My Home is modest. It probably wouldn’t impress anyone. Secretly, that’s another reason it rocks. We’ve already talked about how Shiny Things Are Stupid, and that applies DOUBLY to a Home. Realistically, even if you were the friendliest gal in town and you loved showing off your place, you’d invite maybe 100 different people to it over a number of years. Is having an expensive Home – and in Vancouver, we’re talking at least $1M – worth briefly impressing 100 people? There’s always the argument that it’s not about THEM, it’s about YOU, but isn’t that even dumber? WHY WOULD YOU SPEND A 40+ YEAR CAREER MAKING $1M JUST SO YOU CAN MAKE COFFEE ON A GRANITE COUNTERTOP? FYI, poor people drink the same damn coffee. You’d be happier with more Time and Experiences, not heated toilet seats. Snap out of it.

The insane thing is I’m not even leveraging my Home to its full potential. I sometimes leave the country for weeks at a time and I’ve been told I should Airbnb my place out to make even more Money while I Travel. I COULD GET PAID TO TRAVEL. You can too! Read this.

Home Ownership isn’t black and white. 99-year leaseholds are the happy grey area where dreams are made. It seems silly to me that someone would spend their entire Life working towards a beautiful Home only to live there for 10 years before they croak. Wouldn’t it be better to have an average leasehold Home and shorten your Career voluntarily?

Additional perspective: You may “own” 2,500 square feet someday but outside, there are 197 million square MILES that you can explore. Guess what? Those 197 million square miles look the same to you as they do to Bill Gates.

Go outside. You must already be rich as fuck if you share 197 million square miles with Bill Effing Gates. Just remember, you owe me a beer.