Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apartments: Smaller = Cheaper?

Many personal finance gurus advocate that moving into a smaller space will save you money. That is not always the case. I’m facing this dilemma right now. I want to downsize and I want to live on my own. The likely conclusion is that I should get a studio apartment. This is also what I want right now. I have lived with roommates for the past two years while in graduate school (and then four years of undergrad) and now that I’m employed and making a decent living, I want to have my own place.

Before graduate school and after undergrad, I lived in small one-bedroom apartments. That now seems even too excessive. I get excited when I see how inventive people are with such small spaces (see this studio via Apartment Therapy). Plus, clutter stresses me out.

But what is a single girl (or guy) supposed to do when you live in an expensive city? I’ve been doing a lot of research into the cost of renting on my own in a studio or sharing an apartment with a roommate. I’ve been getting a steal of a deal the past few years, paying only $725 for my share of a two-bedroom in NW DC. The research I’ve done lately tells me that this is now impossible to find. I’ve not seen a single ad on craigslist, livelovely, or padmapper that shows a two-bedroom in the District (a safe part, mind you) that is less than $2,000. So, this means when I have to move at the end of the year, I either get a roommate and pay something around $1,000 for my share of a two-bedroom, or go a bit higher and pay for my own studio.

Side note: I’m moving because my roommate is getting married and because that “steal of a deal” I’m getting is not really a “deal” since the apartment is so run down my carpenter-dad can’t even get my closet door shut without using his power tools on the warped door frame. And that is only the beginning (mice and roaches are currently involved).

So, I’m back to where I started this entry - knowing that I’ll need to rent a studio, but ironically not saving any money by downsizing. Weird, huh? I guess I can console myself with the fact that by the time I have to rent a studio and pay around $1,200 for rent and utilities, I will only have TWO loan payments instead of THREE! And I have the crappy apartment that I have been living in the past two years to thank for not going even more in debt. Such is life in the District of Columbia, I guess. The rent is just too damn high!

P.S. For those who suggest moving to the ‘burbs, such as Alexandria, Arlington, Silver Spring: I hear you and have thought about that. While I would save about $100-200 a month on rent, I’d pay that much to commute to work every day for a month. So, I’m staying in the District if I can find a decent place.


  1. I feel your pain! Studios in Toronto (in a good area) can run about $1200 or more! When I shared a 2 bedroom I paid only $500 (not a nice area...). But I think living on your own is awesome! I guess thats the sacrifice you make!

  2. I'm looking forward to living on my own, but it is sometimes hard to stomach how much I will be paying. But I think you are right - it is a necessary sacrifice!