Last month, I made a huge change in my living situation. After much deliberation, I made the decision to move out of my studio apartment in Washington, DC to rent a room in Northern Virginia as part of my goal to save money for extended world travel next year.
As I’ve said before, most people who say they want to travel the world NEVER get past the wishful thinking phase because of their limiting beliefs around money. Many people still think traveling is just for rich people or celebrities! Of course, this negative mindset prevents us from seeing ALL the possibilities available to us. There are so many steps we can take that will get us closer to any goal we have for our lives, if we only take action.
But anyway, I’ve already completed one of the first tasks on my journey to achieve MY travel goals for next year: saving money by getting rid of my apartment. Several ladies have asked me to share more about my decision and the experience in downsizing my living situation, so today I’m offering some tips on how to go about this for yourself and other things I learned along the way.
Get Clear About What You Really Want
Most people I’ve spoken to seem shocked that anyone would ever want to go from having their own apartment to a shared living space. My response is that it all depends on what your goals are for your ideal life. If being “independent” for you means living completely on your own, fine. But if being “independent” means being able to have more money in your pocket, it might be worth it. For me, for right now, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks:
- I’ve reduced my living expenses by 50%
- I now live closer to my mom and sister
- The move forced me to get rid of ALL the stuff I didn’t need, once and for all
Here’s the deal. I very much want to spend the latter part of 2012 exploring Italy, Greece and Southeast Asia. At this point in my life, that desire trumps any insecurities about not having my own place.
Rethink Your “Must-Haves”
After I got out of college, I was dead-set against ever having a roommate. “I’m a grown ass woman!” I would say to myself. Grown women need their own space. But I never stopped to let myself consider what it was I really needed from my living situation. As I began to explore cost-cutting measures and renting a room, I discovered that I really only needed a few things to be content with a shared space:
- My own room with a lock on the door
- My own bathroom with a shower and tub
- Kitchen privileges with a microwave, stove, fridge and oven
- A parking space for my car
- All utilities included, plus free wireless internet
Once I knew my real “must-haves,” it made it easier for me to find an opportunity that was right for me. If I had kids, I might have added other items to this list, but it’s still not impossible to downsize with little ones in tow. Many ladies have done it!
Determine How Much You Want to Save Per Month
My price range that I wanted to pay per month was initially $800-$1000. I figured since I was already paying over $1200 per month for my studio, any reduction would be a step ahead. Then, I started thinking more clearly. If I was going to make this huge change, I might as well save as much money as I possibly could! My final price range was $500-$800 per month to rent a room in a single family home. (You’re probably shaking your head at these prices but again, I live in the DC area where just having any place to live usually costs an arm and a leg.)
Research All Possible Options
For the DC area, the Craigslist “rooms and shares” section is a great place to find ads for rooms for rent. Roommates.com is another popular site. What I noticed were a few patterns as I did my research. All the “group house” type arrangements made pretty unbelievable claims in their ads that everyone was “quiet” and “clean.” Um, in a house of FIVE twentysomethings, I’d be very shocked if that was actually the case. Other rooms for rent were near colleges, so I expected to be living with kids who were still discovering the joys of getting drunk on school nights. No way! Finally, I settled on only responding to ads that described a single family home where I would be the sole renter. That’s how I found the room I’m living in now.
My current landlord owns a townhouse and is rarely home as she works and travels a lot, so I have the house to myself most of the time. It’s in a quiet neighborhood where I can take walks and focus on my work without being bothered. She also has a cute cat, Jazzpurr that is growing on me! Yes me, the former animal hater. Sometimes I let Jazzpurr sit at my feet with her meowing while I write my blog posts. Overall, moving from an apartment to renting a room has been a great decision for me and what I want for my life.
Do you think this strategy would work for you and your financial goals? What are some other ways you could reduce your living expenses besides renting a room?