I lied awake one night staring at the ceiling. Here I am, 28 going on 29, lying on an my lowly Ikea futon bed, listening to my early 20-something year old roommate blast music just outside my door and hoping that miraculously the landlord will maybe turn up the heat so the apartment isn’t so cold.
At the time, I muttered to myself: “What is my life? I have a good job, I’m getting older, and here I am in this dingy apartment dealing with this.”
Living below my means has been a tenet of my frugal philosophy. It’s what has allowed me to save six figures by 27, attain a healthy lifestyle, and participate in experiences I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. However, it can take a burden.
In my case, my roommate and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, my bedding could be better, and the location and setting of my accommodations could be at a higher standard. But for all the minor sufferings I face, I keep reminding myself: “It’s only temporary.”
And no, this is not one of those “it’s only temporary” situations where I find out I’m now 60 and still living where I live. My roommate and I will both get married (to different people, obviously). We will both find opportunities out there in the world. And inevitably, we will both move out.
I’m sure he also despises the situation somewhat. I’m not exactly easy to live with – I demand levels of cleanliness that perhaps verge on excessive, but it’s just who I am.
At the end of the day, what keeps together is a business agreement, of low rent, co-habitation, and sacrifice. I mean, who wouldn’t prefer to live alone?
Putting that Business Agreement into Perspective
The average cost of a bachelor or 1-bedroom apartment in Toronto now sits at a whopping $1600 a month. That’s not peanuts. That means in a year, you’re spending $19,200 to live alone (assuming no partner) not including utilities. Extrapolate that to having your rent be no more than a recommended 30% of your income, you’re looking at a minimum income level of $64,000 AFTER tax.
Currently, by living with a roommate I pay just under $870 a month with all utilities included. Yes, I’ll admit that is still outrageously high as that is the price it costs to live with a roommate in the city, but I’m saving 45% in rent, or $730 a month or $8760 a year in real dollars. From a ratio of rent to income perspective, I spent just under 13% of my after tax income to keep a roof over my head.
Temporary Sacrifices = Long-term Gains
Travel. Home ownership. Children. Illness. Life is going to throw a lot at me and having close to $9000 in savings a year is going to help.
The key has always been keeping the perspective of “temporary”.
As the puppets in Avenue Q said: “Everything in life is only for now.” Bad times are only for now. Good times are only for now. And living with a roommate is definitely only for now.