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!)  

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