Negotiating My Lease Renewal (and Life Update)

A few months ago, my girlfriend accepted an offer to join a prominent bio-pharma company in San Diego.  This was great news as I’ve been dreaming about leaving the Northeast for quite awhile now.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the wide selection of food, entertainment and culture that New York has to offer, but to someone who is seeking financial independence, these luxuries come at a very high cost.

From my prior net worth updates, you’ve probably seen that my rent alone is $2,259 in this city.  If I renew my lease, the rent would go up even more to $2,372.  So, naturally, I was excited to get the ball rolling as soon as I heard my girlfriend’s news.  Since she would be leaving the city in August, I asked a recruiter to immediately start looking for job opportunities in less expensive San Diego.*

But back to the problem of rent – my current lease expires on August 8.  Ideally, I wanted to find a cheaper place that offers a month-to-month option so that I can leave as soon as I find a job in California.  The issue was that most places were far away and/or didn’t allow pets (a deal breaker for my introverted buddy Luffy).  I even considered a place on airbnb, located in Queens, that would’ve cost half of my current rent.  The owner was kind enough to schedule a meeting for Luffy and his own cats to see if they’d get along.  But last minute, I backed out.

Now I know what you’re thinking, that it’s against my principles to turn down such a money saving opportunity in exchange for convenience.  But it turns out that the management company of my current apartment had a number of affordable properties out in San Diego, and if I renewed my lease here, I could transfer it over to any of those properties and pay San Diego rent without penalty.

But that wasn’t the end of it.  Feeling like I had wussed out of a money saving challenge to live like a nomad with Luffy, I picked up the phone and asked the management company if they could bring the $2,372 rent down to a flat $2,300.  Of course, I explained my situation, how even though I hoped to find a job before moving, I may just move first if nothing turned up.  In that case, we would need some extra savings while I’m unemployed, and paying a lower rent before leaving New York would help a lot.  I also told them upfront that I’d wait until the very last day (August 7) before I renewed the lease in case any job offers came in before then.

And that’s all it took.  A couple days later I got a new offer to renew my lease at $2,300.

The lesson in all this is that recurring expenses are worth shopping around for and renegotiating.  Sure, I ended up not going for any huge savings by moving to temp housing, but at least the process led to a better outcome.  And Luffy gets to stay comfortable in our current apartment before our big move out West.

*While most law firms are currently busy with their summer associate programs, one has reached out to set up an interview (yay!)  

The Best Cookie in New York
No Pain, No Gain

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