Author Topic: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?  (Read 1264 times)

EricNYC

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
  • Age: 30
  • Location: New York City
    • My blog -- software engineering and various thoughts on life
I'm in NYC and single, so buying doesn't seem like a smart option right now no matter how you slice it.

Since I moved out of my parents' house, deeeep in the outer boroughs, I've lived in the same apartment, slightly less deep in the outer boroughs. My rent's stayed the same over the past 3 years ($1,250) but my salary has skyrocketed (from $67,000 to $120,000).

But at the same time, my commute has gotten longer and my friends have moved away to more central places. It's at least an hour and fifteen minutes, with a transfer, to get to work and back. And if I'm heading home late at night from a long day at work, hanging out with friends, or going on a date, it'll be from an hour and a half to two hours with night and weekend schedules. I don't want to try to create an emotional excuse for a dumb financial decision, but I do think that having to plan my life around needing all that time to get to and from anywhere is isolating me, and that's doing a number on my mood and general social connections. My current trip is way too long, and my job's moving offices to a place further away from where I live next year. So there's no way I'm gonna keep this doing for another year, so the question is: how much is too much?

Since my salary has nearly doubled, I can afford a much higher rent. But I've lived in the same out of the way place for years, I really lucked out with it (it was the second place I looked at) and I'm generally unfamiliar with the choices that go into something like this. I could pay half my take home to get a shoebox right next to work (well, maybe 20 minutes away), or increase my rent a whole $250 to get a more comfortable living space with a 45-60 minute commute.

Basically, if you're a high earner, how do you weigh commute time against percentage of your net income in rent?

MrUpwardlyMobile

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
    • The Upwardly Mobile Life
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2018, 07:36:02 PM »
Bud, I live in the burbs and my commute is shorter than yours.  Where is your office moving and whereabouts are you living? 

I was doing an hour plus commute each way until this year, and saw salary growth from about as much as you to a lot more.  While, I am making more, I can tell you that the best decision I made was to negotiate with my commute in mind.

FYI, your rapid income change sounds a lot like you’re a lawyer.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9899
  • Location: Seattle
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2018, 08:05:04 PM »
Your best bet would probably be to get some roommates and share a larger/nicer place close to work.

If you aren't open to that, then I would take the slightly more expensive neighborhood with the 45-60 minute commute.  I lived in Jackson Heights and commuted to the West Village, which was a little over an hour door to door.  It wasn't that bad.  And having to take the train made me want to leave on time -- we did live in company-provided housing for several months when we first moved to NYC, and I regularly worked 10-12 hour days during that period because home was just a 5 minute walk from the office.  Too easy to stay late/go in early.

EricNYC

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
  • Age: 30
  • Location: New York City
    • My blog -- software engineering and various thoughts on life
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2018, 08:25:15 PM »
Bud, I live in the burbs and my commute is shorter than yours.  Where is your office moving and whereabouts are you living? 

I was doing an hour plus commute each way until this year, and saw salary growth from about as much as you to a lot more.  While, I am making more, I can tell you that the best decision I made was to negotiate with my commute in mind.

FYI, your rapid income change sounds a lot like you’re a lawyer.

They're moving about 20 blocks north, so Flatiron to midtown. Mostly a factor in terms of what subway lines I want to live by. Opens up some areas in Queens but adds about 10 minutes to your commute from most places in Brooklyn.

I'm currently on Staten Island - my parents are originally from Brooklyn and Queens but moved here around high school. I used to work way downtown, so I could walk to the ferry, take the ferry, and walk a couple blocks to my office. 50 minutes door to door, free, and much calmer and better lit than a subway. But I got a better job, and it just happens to be further away. Plus the 15 minute wait is a bit harsh vs. how often rush hour subways run.

I'm in tech, BTW. Salary jump is because I got a lot more confident and negotiated better, basically.

Your best bet would probably be to get some roommates and share a larger/nicer place close to work.

If you aren't open to that, then I would take the slightly more expensive neighborhood with the 45-60 minute commute.  I lived in Jackson Heights and commuted to the West Village, which was a little over an hour door to door.  It wasn't that bad.  And having to take the train made me want to leave on time -- we did live in company-provided housing for several months when we first moved to NYC, and I regularly worked 10-12 hour days during that period because home was just a 5 minute walk from the office.  Too easy to stay late/go in early.

Neat. I lived in Sunnyside from '00 to '05, then moved to SI. Thought to make this thread when I looked at some places over the last few days and realized that $1800 (less, even) would get you a palace in Bay Ridge, and a tiny 5 story walkup in much of Manhattan. Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights are all nice places I should consider, too!

I've been planning my life around the every 15 minute (30 minutes off rush hour!) Staten Island Ferry for years, so a subway that runs every 5 minutes would be a godsend. I can't see how I'd ever complain about that.

I'm trying to talk a couple of my buddies into sharing an apartment together, but we're all slightly out of sync with each other (i.e. someone's married, someone just doesn't want to, someone promised their parents they'd get a place with a younger sibling to help them get started). I'm honestly a bit wary on the idea of sharing a place with a strange, though maybe I'm just entitled :).

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9899
  • Location: Seattle
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2018, 08:32:16 PM »
I highly recommend Jackson Heights -- prices are probably going to go through the roof with Amazon moving in nearby, though.  One advantage is that there are lots of larger apartments.  We had a 2+ bedroom (third room was a "maid's room"that was tiny, but would work for a minimalist) with 1 3/4 bath -- could easily have accommodated 2-3 singles.

Maybe you could share with the person with the sibling?

We also looked in Inwood, but it was more expensive than JH.

Staying on SI doesn't make a lot of sense if your office is in midtown.  I'd be looking at Queens or maybe the Bronx on an express train route.

EricNYC

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
  • Age: 30
  • Location: New York City
    • My blog -- software engineering and various thoughts on life
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2018, 08:26:53 PM »
I highly recommend Jackson Heights -- prices are probably going to go through the roof with Amazon moving in nearby, though.  One advantage is that there are lots of larger apartments.  We had a 2+ bedroom (third room was a "maid's room"that was tiny, but would work for a minimalist) with 1 3/4 bath -- could easily have accommodated 2-3 singles.

Maybe you could share with the person with the sibling?

We also looked in Inwood, but it was more expensive than JH.

Staying on SI doesn't make a lot of sense if your office is in midtown.  I'd be looking at Queens or maybe the Bronx on an express train route.

That sounds lovely. It's been a while since I've been further into Queens than Astoria but it's such a great place. I'll text my buddy who might move in with his sister, but I might have to scramble since I can't extend my lease. I have 6 weeks left, so I'm left without a lot of flexibility on that side. Thankfully there is flexibility on the others.

I had a bit of sticker shock when I looked at places in Manhattan and saw that yeah, I can get a place on my ridiculous engineer salary, but it'll be the size of a college dorm and a five story walk up (below, say, CPN -- not that I'm opposed to elsewhere, I just feel out of touch with how much I should be spending and how much certain amenities go for). Since I work from home a lot and generally spend a respectable amount of time there, I'd like a decently sized living space.

Bay Ridge is my "nuclear option," the place where, if I get down to the wire, I'll take a day off work to go down there, walk into a real estate agency and say "Please find me an apartment, I'm willing to pay $X." I've spent a good amount of time there and it's really nice. The R train isn't express and is a headache late at night/on weekends, but 30% of my net, or $1,800, you can get a veritable palace down on the R line past Park Slope. I don't think there are even 1 bedrooms that go for $1,800 there. You've got the park right on the water, too, which is something I would love.

Ha, normally people would use being a couple minutes away from a park to justify paying more!

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9899
  • Location: Seattle
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2018, 08:42:44 PM »
Haven't been there for ages, but seriously have a look at Inwood -- the express trains to Midtown are probably going to be much more convenient than the R.

Rents don't seem to be that outrageous for being in Manhattan, either

https://www.apartments.com/inwood-new-york-ny/


Mariposa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Location: NYC
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2018, 11:17:24 PM »
In case you don't already know about this site: https://streeteasy.com/rentals

Good luck!

zygote

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 260
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2018, 10:56:44 AM »
I'm also in NYC. This is a tough question that a lot of my friends struggle with. Research has shown that we as humans are very adaptable and get used to a change in conditions pretty quickly - with the exception of commute time. Moving into a bigger apartment makes people happier for a bit, and then it stabilizes back to the middle over time. But reducing commute time actually improves people's mood long term. I'd say it's worth a couple hundred dollars extra rent to get your commute time in the 30-40 minute range.

My apartment is rent stabilized so I'm not looking to move anytime soon, but I browse through streeteasy every once in a while out of curiosity. An apartment with a better commute to midtown is totally doable in the $1500-$1800 range. Filter for train lines that are most convenient for your commute and use the map view. Make sure to check how long it will actually take - distance can be deceiving because some of the trains run faster than others with express stops, etc. And frankly, with the state of the MTA, try to find yourself somewhere with two options. I can't tell you what kind of peace of mind it gives me to have 2-3 ways to get to work so I can adjust if there are delays. What do you do now when it's too windy for the ferry to run?

PS I live in a fifth floor walk up and it's great. The extra cardio is good for me and it keeps me from buying stuff I'll have to carry up the stairs. ;)


secondchance

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 10:16:06 PM »
Consider Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights.  Or a roommate?

You can adapt to a small space but as you've noticed, you never get over a long commute.

getwiththeprogrammer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: How should I balance between commuting times and rent in a high CoL city?
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2018, 12:50:56 AM »
Would you consider anything across the Hudson in NJ? Note that NJ residents do not have to pay city tax, so that's ~3% salary in your pocket (or going towards higher rent, if you prefer). I hesitate to give specific advice though, I like Weehawken but there probably aren't many 1 beds away from the expensive waterfront and the commute can be iffy sometimes (fast when the buses work).