Author Topic: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.  (Read 3820 times)

Koastie57

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« on: January 19, 2017, 07:50:05 AM »
Howdy all,

As a new follower I've been making various adjustments to my financial situation that have yielded great results thus far. I'm headed in a great direction but one of my biggest challenges has been dealing with one expense specifically, rent/housing.

Background:

I'm a 25 y/o male (single) working in a decent job making approximately $65K/year. I work the basic 8 hour work day, 5 days a week. Weekends are mine.

Current Housing situation:

- 1 bedroom
- Rent = $1,200/mo (originally $1,400/mo but negotiated a sublease)
- commute is approximately 75 to 90 minutes per day due to traffic but actual distance is 13 miles each way.

What I like about my current location:

I'm currently living off of S. Lamar because I love this area. It's close to Zilker Park, the running trails, town lake, and downtown. There are tons of young post-grad people around here.

What I don't like:

1. My commute. I work in the Arboretum area and since my original move to Austin 3 years ago, traffic has got exponentially worse. (90 minutes a day)
2. My rental rate. Rental rates across the greater Austin area have increased tremendously. I feel like i'm spoiling myself spending $1,200/mo on housing. I feel I should really try to curb this down.

For those of you renting (or not) what do you shoot for when it comes to housing expense? Any general rules of thumb when deciding what price is fair to pay?

There are several things I can do to cut costs such as move closer to work (and bike to work everyday), find a super small studio apartment, live in an older complex, or get a roommate. The roommate situation can be tricky since I don't have any prospects for roommates and I haven't had any experience with Craigslist. The idea of rooming with a stranger seems a bit risky but I wouldn't totally ignore that option. The idea of getting stuck with a lunatic or a super dirty roommate would be miserable though. I have friends but none that I would want to live with.

I'm 25 years old with no girlfriend or kids, so there's really not a lot holding me back from doing anything.

Curious what you fellow Mustachians would advise for someone in my situation.

Thanks,

Stash Engineer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 458
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2017, 08:20:51 AM »
Seems like moving closer to work would be a good idea but I don't know what that does for your rent cost.  If you decide not to move, would it be feasible to bike/ebike from your current place to work?  You'd probably get there a lot faster.  IMHO, it would be totally worth it to move to a smaller/cheaper place close to work (bonus if its within walking distance!) and bank the cash you save.

Rezdent

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 813
  • Location: Central Texas
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2017, 12:21:39 PM »
How committed are you to your home location?
Austin is getting increasingly unaffordable, period.  South Lamar is a "hot" location and costs.  Prices close to the arboretum are going to be high too.

If you are committed to staying in the same place - you should find a different way to get to work.  Biking might not be feasible from your local, but it is getting better.  Buses can certainly get you there - you won't find a time savings this way, but at least you can do other things while riding.  Perhaps a combo of buses and biking can help you navigate a sweet spot?

Or...can you change your hours to avoid the horrid commute windows?  You'll still have an ugly commute - but it's less ugly.

If you are willing to change locations then consider the far East of Austin, preferably near a major artery like 183, 290, or even 130.  I know folks who halved their commute time from 45 minutes down to 20 by doing this.  They added 4 miles to their commute but no traffic.
Bonus is you'll also probably have lower rent too.  The price difference earned from lower rent and less commute might mean you could visit South Lamar every single day and still come out ahead moneywise.

kms

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 277
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Minion Money Hippie
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2017, 12:39:59 PM »
The thing about Austin, and I'm sure you already know this, is to work and live on the same side of the river. We live in southern Austin (Lantana Hills) and while I work from home and don't really care about traffic at all my wife has just started a new job with a 15 mile commute from Lantana Hills to Mountain Ridge (so pretty much right next door to where you work), which takes her between 20 minutes (no traffic) and 45 minutes (normal traffic). The good thing is she doesn't have to use Mopac but can go around town on 360.

You're still young so South Lamar is an awesome place to live for sure, and I would probably prefer South Lamar to Downtown, but it's also a very expensive area to live. Our rent is $1200 a month as well but for a 1200 sqft 2br 2ba apartment. Yes, Austin is really expensive at this point, but there's tons of construction going own and hopefully it won't get much worse in the years to come. Have you considered moving north towards Round Rock or Cedar Park? I know it's not as young and hip as South Lamar but you have to ask yourself how much time you actually spend going out vs. how much time you spend on your commute. Maybe, just maybe, you might save a lot of time and money if you move North and simply take your car when you want to go out.

marielle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Age: 26
  • Location: South Carolina
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 12:41:25 PM »
I've had better luck with Craigslist roommates than rooming with friends in the past. Try to find a professional, especially someone who works a lot of hours and is never home. You'll probably get a lot of hits in a big city so you'll have plenty of people to choose from. My roommate is a nurse and works 12 hour shifts so it's basically like living alone. Stay away from couples, people with pets, college students, or part time workers. You could even go as far as meeting them for lunch or something to make sure they're not crazy.

Edit: Ask for references too!! I didn't do this, but some people offering rooms on Craigslist did. Another option is to move in with someone else, that way you can go to their place and see how they keep it.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 12:44:33 PM by marielle »

ltt

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 740
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2017, 12:41:42 PM »
Wow.....a 75+ minute commute for 13 miles.  That commute will eventually become a major drain.  I thought housing costs in Texas, at least purchasing a home, were pretty decent.  If you don't want a roommate, don't do it.  Roommates can either make you or break you.  What are home prices in the area you would want to live?

prognastat

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 781
  • Location: Texas
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2017, 02:34:07 PM »
You should be able to get some small 1 bedroom studios just a little north of the arboretum around 183 for 500-700/month. If you did this your commute would only be around 15 minutes which would likely save you 100+ a month in gas and possibly even be able to bike to work and more importantly it would about halve your expenses on rent.

If you are willing to share a house/apartment there can be ways to save even more than that while getting a larger place, but it depends on if you want to deal with the hassle. I would advise against shacking up with friends though. From my experience this can be the death of friendships.

One alternative is renting just a room from somewhere on craigslist. This would could potentially get your rent down to $300, you probably wouldn't be responsible for most bills either and you don't have to deal with finding other renters, but you are dependent on the person renting to you.

Renting Studio Savings: ~$700 a month
Renting Bedroom Savings: ~$1100 a month

Also 60+ minutes back in your day gives you time to either enjoy or work OT/produce more income which could be even more money towards saving/investing.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 03:39:42 PM by prognastat »

Koastie57

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2017, 06:28:38 PM »
First off I want to thank everyone for their input on this. To answer a few questions:

How committed am I to staying in S. Lamar? I love it here but I'd have no problem moving. As kms mentioned earlier, I'm starting to entertain the idea of just commuting to the S. Lamar area on the weekends and the occasional weekday as opposed to living here full time and having to deal with 75 minutes of wasted time in traffic each day. That's more than 6 hours a week in a car just with work commute alone.

The Craigslist Roommate Idea:
I'd be down to give this a shot, in fact i'm going to check out craigslist tonight and see if anything comes of it. Renting a room sounds great as I'd love the money savings. However it's a roll of the dice on whether the roommate ends up panning out or not.

@prognastat Where are you finding these $700 studio apartments? I've been searching and haven't had any luck finding anything that low. I'd be interested in something like that if I found one I liked.

Iplawyer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 308
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2017, 06:41:27 AM »
You should be able to get some small 1 bedroom studios just a little north of the arboretum around 183 for 500-700/month. If you did this your commute would only be around 15 minutes which would likely save you 100+ a month in gas and possibly even be able to bike to work and more importantly it would about halve your expenses on rent.

If you are willing to share a house/apartment there can be ways to save even more than that while getting a larger place, but it depends on if you want to deal with the hassle. I would advise against shacking up with friends though. From my experience this can be the death of friendships.

One alternative is renting just a room from somewhere on craigslist. This would could potentially get your rent down to $300, you probably wouldn't be responsible for most bills either and you don't have to deal with finding other renters, but you are dependent on the person renting to you.

Renting Studio Savings: ~$700 a month
Renting Bedroom Savings: ~$1100 a month

Also 60+ minutes back in your day gives you time to either enjoy or work OT/produce more income which could be even more money towards saving/investing.

Those prices are a myth.  You are going to have to give links to studios "close to the Arboretum" that are anywhere close to $700 per month. Perhaps you haven't looked lately?

Saving in Austin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 155
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2017, 08:45:05 AM »
You might try living between the Arboretum and Zilker. I am thinking somewhere around Spicewood Springs, Far West or Mesa Drive. The rents are probably similar to South Lamar but you may be able to commute by bike to work and then be close enough to the center so you could also ride your bike on weekends.

kms

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 277
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Minion Money Hippie
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2017, 08:59:58 AM »
I highly doubt that $700 for a studio or 1be1br are doable in Austin. Maybe 5-10 years ago but not anymore, when we were looking for a new apartment in October/November last year 1br were usually around $1,000 outside of Downtown and South Lamar and kept getting more and more expensive the closer you got to Downtown and the university. South Lamar is right in there as well.

I love South Lamar (and obviously 6th St) but quite frankly I wouldn't want to live there. Too much commotion in the evenings and on weekends.

Snow White

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Texas
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2017, 09:09:41 PM »
I live in SW Austin and feel your pain. Mopac is a nightmare & getting worse and I agree that biking to the Arboretum area isn't an option for you. Honestly, I'd consider leaving Austin entirely and moving somewhere else if you don't have deep ties here. Quality of life is important and you might be able to relocate somewhere where you CAN live close enough to bike to work.  I only tolerate Austin because I don't work and can choose when to get on the roads.  You aren't exaggerating either about the time it takes to drive 13 miles...and that is if there are no traffic accidents!

But...if you are committed to Austin then I'd consider being the one to respond to roommate ads and pick the best option close to work. Get lean and light with your possessions and move on if the first roommate attempt isn't successful.  You can hang out in Zilker and South Lamar on weekends. Traffic will still be a bear but it won't make you late to work!  Good luck.

bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3950
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2017, 10:47:57 PM »
Crestview

http://austin.craigslist.org/apa/5960553765.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/apa/5935075028.html

Not as hip as SL or SC but Burnet Road has restaurants and businesses and Crestview/Rosedale is a cool neighborhood. It's also a lot closer to the Arboretum.

MoonLiteNite

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 413
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2017, 05:09:43 AM »
I am from ATX too.
Rather than moving closer to work (currently 22 miles 1-way with 1hour drive) i decided it was cheaper just to kick out my slacker family members and get 3 roommates.
Worked for me :)

Iplawyer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 308
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2017, 06:56:15 AM »
Crestview

http://austin.craigslist.org/apa/5960553765.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/apa/5935075028.html

Not as hip as SL or SC but Burnet Road has restaurants and businesses and Crestview/Rosedale is a cool neighborhood. It's also a lot closer to the Arboretum.

Yes - this is "a lot closer' to the Arboretum - but not near the Arboretum. 

chasesfish

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3210
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Texas
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2017, 05:36:00 PM »
Everyone has great suggestions on the expense side.

You're 25 and making $85k.  Have you figured out how to make $150k - -$200k in Austin by the time you're 30?  The 20s are the time in your life you should be able to triple your income from your starting salary out of school  That'll be equally or more impactful than the $100/mo on housing.

Kill that commute, either change houses, jobs, or work remote.  You could be investing that time into more income, personal development, or physical fitness.

Mini-Mer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2017, 10:04:57 AM »
Move north of the river, for sure - the bridges are a major bottleneck, and you will save time and money not driving them every day.  (Weekend traffic to downtown is easier, especially early in the morning.)  If you do not enjoy having roommates and your hair is not on fire, you have this internet person's permission to live alone.   

I had good experiences with Martine Properties, which runs a couple apartment complexes in north-central Austin.  The buildings aren't brand-new, so are cheaper than the new luxury places, but they take care of the places and fix maintenance issues fast.  My old complex seems to be renting one-bedrooms at $900-1200. 

TomTX

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3609
  • Location: Texas
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2017, 11:15:42 AM »
Crestview

http://austin.craigslist.org/apa/5960553765.html
http://austin.craigslist.org/apa/5935075028.html

Not as hip as SL or SC but Burnet Road has restaurants and businesses and Crestview/Rosedale is a cool neighborhood. It's also a lot closer to the Arboretum.

Crestview also has a rail station, which will get you fairly close to Town Lake. And you may be able to "contraflow" a couple stations on the rail (probably to Kramer by the Domain. which puts you <3 miles from the Arboretum itself) with your bike for commuting.

Commuting "With the flow" by rail with a bike is basically impossible unless you get on at the Leander station or have really non-peak hours.

Agreed with the income statement. If you haven't gotten a new job/sizeable promotion in the past 2 years, you should be looking. If you aren't finding anything, you should make yourself more marketable.

prognastat

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 781
  • Location: Texas
Re: Austin, TX - Trying to shave down the biggest expense I have.
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2017, 07:04:19 AM »
You should be able to get some small 1 bedroom studios just a little north of the arboretum around 183 for 500-700/month. If you did this your commute would only be around 15 minutes which would likely save you 100+ a month in gas and possibly even be able to bike to work and more importantly it would about halve your expenses on rent.

If you are willing to share a house/apartment there can be ways to save even more than that while getting a larger place, but it depends on if you want to deal with the hassle. I would advise against shacking up with friends though. From my experience this can be the death of friendships.

One alternative is renting just a room from somewhere on craigslist. This would could potentially get your rent down to $300, you probably wouldn't be responsible for most bills either and you don't have to deal with finding other renters, but you are dependent on the person renting to you.



Renting Studio Savings: ~$700 a month
Renting Bedroom Savings: ~$1100 a month

Also 60+ minutes back in your day gives you time to either enjoy or work OT/produce more income which could be even more money towards saving/investing.

Those prices are a myth.  You are going to have to give links to studios "close to the Arboretum" that are anywhere close to $700 per month. Perhaps you haven't looked lately?

Except that they aren't.

I had an apartment for $700 rent a little north of McNeil less than two years ago and for room prices maybe check craigslist for rooms.

Check here. Maybe you should check, before calling it a myth. That is the apartment complex I rented at and I just checked it, didn't even do an in depth search of the area to see if there is anything cheaper.

@prognastat Where are you finding these $700 studio apartments? I've been searching and haven't had any luck finding anything that low. I'd be interested in something like that if I found one I liked.

I rented at Hunter's Chase just north of McNeil, it was a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom, around 600 sq ft, at the time it was about $700 in rent. I checked their website and it looks like the price range listed for those is now $743 -to $873, definitely not the 1k+ people are insisting on. And this is just me checking a place I stayed, not actually doing a thorough search for a cheap apartment. Also these apartments would be about 15 minutes to the arboretum during rush hour traffic.

For rooms:
http://austin.craigslist.org/search/roo?search_distance=5&postal=78759&max_price=400&availabilityMode=0
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 07:25:46 AM by prognastat »