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!)