Author Topic: California Mustachians  (Read 10444 times)

Lindzo

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California Mustachians
« on: September 11, 2014, 03:13:52 AM »
This is primarily aimed at those of you who live in high cost of living parts of California, namely Coastal areas of Southern California and the Bay Area. How do you manage to maintain Mustachians ways while living in such high cost of living areas?

I personally have the misfortune of being young enough that buying a home pre-bubble was not an option, and with the volatility of our housing market, seems like it will be a continued impossibility. Also, rent for us has increased every year I've lived in my apartment and shows no signs of slowing down. There really are no "cheap" options in my area unless I want to significantly increase my commute.

Both my husband and I make good money, but due to the specific industry we work in, we're pretty much stuck where we are until we have enough for FIRE.

So I'd like to hear from any of you who live here and what solutions you've found for saving money and increasing your wealth.

jnc

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2014, 04:30:37 AM »
Not familiar with southern california, but I used to live in SF bay area before.

Not sure how things are now but there always tend to be areas that are perfectly fine in my book, that are a bit cheaper than others. In SF bay area: Fremont, Alameda, certain neighborhoods of SF (i like the inner sunset) were more reasonable but often snubbed by people who don't live there.

Other tips:
- drive an old but reliable car
- eat out less often
- max out your 401k and other tax deferred accounts

If you post a snapshot of your expenses, I am sure people would be more than happy to tear into them, ummm, offer helpful suggestions :)

Enjoy the sunshine ;)

Johnez

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2014, 05:51:26 AM »
Having a tough time with it myself. The cost of living I can deal with in all aspects, but the rent is the worst! I got "lucky" to find a one bedroom apartment at $1050 a month in Anaheim. I used to find studios advertised at between $750-850 when I wasn't looking for a place, those days are gone.

I find our Costco membership really does not help too much. 99% of stuff we really need can be found on sale at the grocery store. Avoid places like Walmart and Target. You will find all sorts of stuff you "need" but really don't.

If you want to "go out," there are actually tons of things to do and see for cheap in SoCal. The beach, parks, museums, antique districts, etc. People say theaters are too pricey, but not if you know where to look. There are about 5 theaters in my area where I can see a movie for between $2-6, some are current! 

Also, for your commutes- have you thought about carpooling? I have 3 coworkers I can potentially carpool with and when our schedules stabilize I plan on asking one of them. My plan is to ditch my truck and simply bike to a coworker's house. Total savings per year in gas and insurance is $3600, even if I fork over $100 a month to carpool I'm saving tons!

That's all for now!

mxt0133

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2014, 08:04:38 AM »
SF resident here, family of 4 living in a one bedroom 650sf apartment.  One thing we have done is not inflate our living space after having two kids.  We have gotten very efficient with our existing space.  So you can partially control housing costs.  As for food, yes prices are high, but since having kids we have significantly reduced buying prepared or processed food.  We do bulk shopping and have gotten good at playing Tetris with our small fridge.  We are in a rent controlled apartment building where my next door neighbor, with the same amount of space but is renovated, is paying double what we are.  We use our community pool and patio area to host parties and get together.  We mostly do them during the week as my wife is a SAHM and I have a flexible work schedule.  Amazingly even on weekends because everyone is so busy leaving the city that the community space is hardly used.

We use the public library system for most of our educational and entertainment media.  We have not gone to the movies or paid for DVD rentals in a few years.  They also have a family pass program to a lot of the museums, zoos, and other exhibits.  It takes some effort to find out the cost effective options in a big city but they are there.

We enjoy big city living with it's diverse culture, world class museums, infrastructure, take advantage of a walk/bike centric neighborhood, make HCOL wages, but also mostly avoid big city expenses.  By going to places when everyone else is at work or out of town we also avoid the crowds.

dios.del.sol

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2014, 08:13:18 AM »
No brilliant solutions here, but I can relate.

We live in LA proper. Our commutes are short distance-wise (both 7-8 miles, sometimes working from home) but can still take up to 45 minutes. Daycare is a couple miles away. We were looking at buying a small multi-family or other mixed-use property last year, but the numbers just didn't pencil out, so for now we're still renting. I've been over it and over it and over it, and I've decided to stay put for now (almost anywhere closer and cheaper is in higher crime areas). I don't particularly like LA, so I cringe every time I pay expensive rent.

Over the coming year, we're going to do two things to be ready to address the problem: do some values exercises to know what we really value in housing. That way we'll be better positioned to find opportunities that work for us. The other thing we're doing is de-cluttering to be more nimble to make a quick move into a potentially smaller place if the opportunity strikes. I've also tossed around whacky ideas like finding another couple with a kid and sharing a house. Sounds either great or the worst disaster possible.

Still, it seems to me that the only way of dealing with the high cost of housing in SoCal is to either (a) accept it and optimize it as much as is reasonable, or (b) leave SoCal. I'm leaning for (b). It helps that I just decided to de-prioritize career.

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2014, 08:57:54 AM »
Wouldn't it be that you have the fortune of not being able to buy a house pre-bubble? Forgive me if I'm missing something about southern california's housing market throughout that time, but wouldn't it have been a bad thing to buy a house before the bubble, in the most expensive/inflated of times, right before the housing values dropped to corrected values?

I'm thankful I wasn't able to buy ahead of that bubble (but perhaps feel unfortunate that I wasn't able to buy at the bottom, after the bubble burst, as I was in school).

I just don't want you to feel like you have a misfortune there if you really didn't. I do understand your sentiment that even now, after the bubble, that area is crazy expensive, and it could seem daunting or just simply be a bad idea to buy so it continues to seem like an impossibility.

Regards

minimustache1985

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2014, 09:01:08 AM »
I lived in SoCal (Long Beach area) for a few years, and honestly the single best thing I was able to do was live with roommates.  Be picky and meet in person first, but with HCOL areas there are so many respectful professionals that are willing to live with roommates it is far easier to find a good one in those areas than LCOL spots.  I lived with a few speech therapists, an engineer, graduate student, and teacher over my time there, and they were all great.  And the grad student was married to one of the speech therapists, so I wouldn't rule it out just because you already have one "roomie" in your spouse.

Jellyfish

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2014, 09:17:42 AM »
I lived in CA for 27 years before relocating to Chicago, and was in Orange County before my move. My personal success in saving money while there was to avoid what everyone else was doing. I didn't live in the popular good area, didn't have a nice flashy car, and didn't eat out. Basically all the Mustachian advice applies.  And if you can manage to avoid the killer commutes, that helps too.

zataks

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2014, 09:41:36 AM »
My initial response to your question was, "By making a ton of money!"  Because wages are so much higher in the Bay Area, the COL is mostly negated.  Sure housing is crazy expensive (live in my GFs condo; pay 1200/month as my share) but is largely balanced by things like incredibly cheap food and little/no need for heat and air conditioning.
We shop for the bulk items at Costco but most day to day stuff is purchased at local or small chain "ethnic" markets.  Some meats at the Mexican market (mostly Costco though) vegetables and fruit at the Middle Eastern (local) or Asian (Lion) markets.  So often one of us will come home with a bag FULL of produce and say, "look at EVERYTHING I got for only $20!"
We do like to eat out so that increases our costs but there are SO many options for cheap[er] restaurants.  SO many delicious foods from all over the world!  Again, so often we go out for a very tasty, healthy, nice dinner and are joyfully surprised when the bill comes and is <$30.

$200k

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2014, 09:51:08 AM »
I am a coastal SoCal guy.  I have been able to implement pretty much all mustachian principles, with the exception of housing, since I rent along the coast.  But, as many people mentioned, our salaries more than make up for the difference. 

What about additional savings?  For my wife and I, we take advantage of free beaches and parks, and don't pay for any activities, gym memberships, etc.  SoCal people probably take for granted that winter never comes, so there is absolutely no reason to not go for walks, a run, surf, etc.  These activities are mostly free, healthy, and good for you.

Other than high rent, there is no difference.

Eric

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2014, 10:34:12 AM »
The only expensive thing is rent.  In almost every other category, it's probably cheaper than anywhere else.  Utilities are non-existent because of consistent gorgeous weather (I can remember $200+/mo heating bills in Chicago winters), you can bike everywhere because of consistent gorgeous weather, you can enjoy tons of free outdoor activities because of, you guessed it, consistent gorgeous weather.  Food is grown locally, so in season produce is super cheap.  You're close to mountains and beaches, both of which provide tons of options for cheap/free entertainment.  So rent the smallest place you can find and then go outside!

galliver

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2014, 11:57:19 AM »
I just finished making an unexpected, fairly sudden move to Pasadena from Illinois. Not quite coastal, but pretty HCOL area. I insisted we keep our housing budget as low as we could; we really lucked out though in finding a huge and gorgeous 1BR for $1250 (reasonable range here seemed to be $1200-$1500, though they go up past $2k). We also made sure to stay in an area where at least one of us could bike or walk to work so we could be a one-car household. We were carless before, but that wasn't an option anymore, because we wanted to take advantage of all the excellent hiking/outdoors opportunities!

And of course all the obvious things: not falling for the prevalent consumerist culture here, eating at home, toughing it out without AC as much as possible. We've been thrifting for a lot of our furniture and household goods, although we can't seem to find chairs... so I guess what I'm saying is I think the same rules apply, you'll just get better savings in different places--utilities and food prices vs rent, entertainment and health vs transportation.

Beric01

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2014, 12:57:10 PM »
I life in the SF Bay Area (San Jose). As stated previously, the main expense is housing. The best way to save is to make what non-Mustachians would call "sacrifices". For example, I'm 2 miles biking distance from work, but I have an about 250 square-foot studio apartment. I'm perfectly happy - if anything it has too much space and tempts me to fill it up. This allows me to maintain a high savings rate, and a higher total savings per month than if I lived in a cheaper-cost area.

I'm actually debating whether I should pull a Jacob and just rent a room when my lease expires. Will take some more thought/investigation.

Of course, when I FIRE I'm getting out of California completely. I'd prefer to spend my money on something other than inflated living costs. These costs are in large party due to NIMBY's preventing new high density development, and zoning restrictions preventing more micro-apartments, which means that demand artificially exceeds supply.

bearkat

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2014, 01:12:34 PM »
My cousin and her long time boyfriend rent a room in an apartment in SF. They do have 4 roommates, though. they both work less than 2 miles away from the apartment, so they walk to work. I don't know what they spend on rent, but it seems like their other line items (as a percent of their income), are actually pretty low.

Would you be open for more "communal" living? At least for a while?

flyfig

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2014, 01:58:02 PM »
Living in SF city. Would agree on rent/mortgage being the largest chunk of COL. Mortgage (excluding additional principle payments), condo insurance, property tax, HOA fees account for 31% of my monthly income. Plus all additional expenses, it's a total of 45% of my income. The biggest chunk of this is car commuting and plane tickets to see SO every 2 weekends in SoCal.

Would agree with other posters- get the smallest housing possible to minimize expenses. We have a 650 sqft condo in SF which is probably too big (miss our 450 sq ft apartment). Really fantastic food can be had for very cheap here. I have co-workers who bring in pallets of limes, tomatoes and avocados from their garden.

If your job offers benefits- take advantage of them (e.g., commuter subsidies). Telework if you are allowed. It's totally doable if you avoid the $100 shaves and $20 artisan cold pressed juices. =)

marblejane

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2014, 02:09:25 PM »
I live in Palo Alto and work in Mountain View. I invested the time in obsessively hunting for a room to rent, and was rewarded by finding something dog-friendly at $800/mo six miles from work. I'm thus able to bike to work and live car-free (but living car free is difficult in the Bay Area, for sure).

If I didn't have a dog, I would have seriously considered buying a car to live in. My large tech employer has a lot of the usual perks other employers out here have - free gym, discounted cafeteria, frequent free snacks/meals, free coffee - all of which would make it rather easy to live out of a car.

I am on track for my income taxes to exceed my annual personal expenditures, so definitely pay attention to tax-advantaged accounts.

Lindzo

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2014, 03:24:21 PM »
Wouldn't it be that you have the fortune of not being able to buy a house pre-bubble? Forgive me if I'm missing something about southern california's housing market throughout that time, but wouldn't it have been a bad thing to buy a house before the bubble, in the most expensive/inflated of times, right before the housing values dropped to corrected values?

I'm thankful I wasn't able to buy ahead of that bubble (but perhaps feel unfortunate that I wasn't able to buy at the bottom, after the bubble burst, as I was in school).

I just don't want you to feel like you have a misfortune there if you really didn't. I do understand your sentiment that even now, after the bubble, that area is crazy expensive, and it could seem daunting or just simply be a bad idea to buy so it continues to seem like an impossibility.

Regards

When I say pre-bubble, I'm specifically referring to before the bubble inflated. Unfortunately here, prices didn't fall for long before re-inflating to values that are still unaffordable. If you bought in 2011, you got a really good deal.

We've been contemplating buying, and are considering smaller and "cheaper" places, but the taxes and HOA fees often still makes the monthly expense more costly than just renting. When we got our apartment originally, it was a fantastic price and moving actually didn't make financial sense since our overall cost savings wouldn't be much. However, now our apartment is not reasonable and moving into something smaller and closer to work is definitely something we're considering.

I want to be able to walk or bike to work, but we also have the misfortune of working in Irvine which is one of the highest cost of living places in Orange County, so I'm trying to figure out a solution that allows us a shorter commute, and lower cost of living. We did originally live with roommates before moving to our current apartment, and then my parents lived with us for awhile. I'm pretty much at the point where I want to live with my husband roommate free for awhile since we haven't really had the opportunity.

And trust me, I definitely take full advantage of the gorgeous weather we have here :)

SkinnyGreenMan

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2014, 05:02:21 PM »
Yeah, I'll echo what everyone else said: Housing cost is a giant, hard to reduce, and annoying expense out here, and the best way to deal with it is to live with lots of roommates, and live in a small amount of space (but take advantage of the outdoors).  But even those things don't really solve the problem, they just help a little bit.  At some level you just accept high prices and deal with it as best you can.

It is expensive, but at least in San Diego you really do get your money's worth.  Heating and cooling bills are lower.  I've lived for years without using AC, (though it does get warmer at my place than most people prefer in the peak of the summer).  It also doesn't get very cold in winter.  Fresh produce is readily available, outdoor activities are there year round, the ocean is your neighbor, and the mexican food is true mexican food.

Rein1987

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2014, 06:42:19 PM »
Did you consider mobile house opiton?

I live and work in the most expensive area of south bay area. I have quite a few high-income colleagues who purchased a mobile house to live. It only cost about 100k - 150k to own a 3 bedroom one, 10 times cheaper than a single family house in the same area. Actually I think their house is somewhat better than mine, because they can walk or bike to work. For me, a condo owner, 6 miles away from work, often stuck 30 minutes in traffic.

electriceagle

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2014, 06:47:02 PM »
SF resident here... been in the Bay Area for over a decade.

The only way to beat the housing prices is to collect rent. Buy a house and fill it with roommates; the high rents that you collect will cover the high purchase price that you pay.

mm1970

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2014, 07:03:53 PM »
This is primarily aimed at those of you who live in high cost of living parts of California, namely Coastal areas of Southern California and the Bay Area. How do you manage to maintain Mustachians ways while living in such high cost of living areas?

I personally have the misfortune of being young enough that buying a home pre-bubble was not an option, and with the volatility of our housing market, seems like it will be a continued impossibility. Also, rent for us has increased every year I've lived in my apartment and shows no signs of slowing down. There really are no "cheap" options in my area unless I want to significantly increase my commute.

Both my husband and I make good money, but due to the specific industry we work in, we're pretty much stuck where we are until we have enough for FIRE.

So I'd like to hear from any of you who live here and what solutions you've found for saving money and increasing your wealth.
Yeah, this is a tough one.  We bought on the first upswing, so our astronomically priced house is still worth less than we paid for it 10 years ago.  Ugh.

Transportation: two paid for compact cars.  We used to ride our bikes 1-3x a week too, which I figured at 40 cents/mile saved $8 a day.  But now with 2 jobs, 2 kids, 2 different dropoffs and pick ups, we haven't ridden in a year.  Maybe we should try it again...

Food: don't eat out, cook at home, cook cheap meals, shop around for best prices.  Don't get caught up in the local/organic.  I mean, I like local/organic - have a CSA, have bought pork in bulk from a farmer at $9.50 a pound, but it's not our ENTIRE budget.  I know people who spend $2k a month buying everything organic.  I'll make organic pork this weekend, but we've been eating bean soup all week.

Housing: this is really really hard.  Especially if you rent.  Some things that have worked here: sharing a home, especially if you get into a house that's been rented for a long time and rents haven't gone up.  One of my coworkers lives with his wife in a converted bus.  THey pay $200/month to rent the space it's parked on (they shower at work/gym).  Two of my coworkers (married to each other) live in a 5th wheel.  Look for smaller rentals - like a studio.  Check with friends who may know someone with a rental.

Or what electriceagle said.

Do free stuff on weekend (we have a hard time with this inexplicably sometimes, because we have kids)

I live in Santa Barbara, my salary does NOT make up the difference.  Too small of an area.

flyfig

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2014, 07:08:20 PM »
I have co-workers who bring in pallets of limes, tomatoes and avocados from their garden.

My coworkers fruit trees are one of my favorite things about living in California. 

Quote
$100 shaves and $20 artisan cold pressed juices
I've seen the juices.  Where are the $100 shaves?

Art of Shaving in Union Square was approx that price when I looked 2 years ago. Didn't go for it, of course. There is a new place in the Mission that is always crowded. I would assume a similar business model

socaso

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2014, 07:16:11 PM »
Owning an old car really cuts back on expenses. We have 2 old cars that we own outright and insurance is only $115 a month for both cars. My coworker just bought a car and the insurance was $300 for just one car because it was new and had a loan. Yikes! We live in Glendale which is practically living in LA but a lot cheaper rent-wise. So I think living just on the perimeter helps with housing costs unless it makes your commute insane.

Greystache

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2014, 07:44:55 PM »
I always find it funny when my younger co-workers moan about the high cost of housing as if it is a new thing.  It
has always been that way and we always found a way to deal with it.  When I bought my first place in LA County, the prices were lower, but the interest rates and inflation rates were both in the double digits.  You buy what you can afford and hope it appreciates.  Because of Prop 13, you can lock in a property tax payment for as long as you own a place.  I bought my current home at the bottom of the market in 1994 for $200K.  It is now worth three times that and my property tax is less than $4k per year.  Utilities are cheap due to the climate, as others have mentioned. I do have a 20 mile commute, but I live near the light rail line that takes me right to my office.

Beric01

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2014, 09:14:05 PM »
Owning an old car really cuts back on expenses.

Finally got rid of my (old) car today. Owning no car cuts back on expenses even more!

dragoncar

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2014, 11:30:51 PM »
+infinity re: housing being the primary cost that can actually offset many others.  Also, see this:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/08/28/cost_of_living_in_major_cities_why_new_york_and_san_francisco_are_actually.html

Spartana

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2014, 01:30:05 AM »
I live in the Huntington Beach area and I agree with the other - it's fairly inexpensive here except for housing, car insurance and gas.  I'm fortunate to have my house already bought and paid for (and did it with the help of roommates) and with very low property taxes.  But for anyone new to the area it can be beyond expensive. Rents too. If I were new to the area I'd probably choose to rent a small one bedroom place if I were part of a couple (a room rental if I were single) and save/invest what I would have spent on a big mortgage, high property taxes, extra utilities, maintenance and repairs, and the million other expenses that come with home ownership for future housing out of the area (or a very large down payment if I wanted to live in SoCal forever).

lemonlime

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2014, 10:45:30 AM »
San Diego here. We rent a two-bedroom condo from a private owner. When we first rented the apartment, I negotiated a $20 discount per month on the rent, resulting in a $1430/month rent payment. The landlord had booted his previous tenant at the end of his lease because he was constantly paying the rent late. So I asked if I arranged for direct deposit if he would give us $20 off, and he said yes. He has not raised the rent in three years. We take excellent care of the place and perform maintenance (with his knowledge). We let him know when there are problems (upstairs neighbor's leaking water heater damaging our walls) and actively work to help him get those things resolved. Basically we pay rent on time, are helpful to him, cost-share some issues (replacement of a microwave/vent unit - we split the cost) because our rent is pretty far under market, and generally take pride in the place, so he likes having us in here.  We plan to stay another three or four years, based on our timeline for getting out of debt and saving a down payment for a house.

How we keep costs down:
 - plan ahead and budget for activities that cost money, like beerfests and such, say no to things you didn't budget for
 - do free stuff. Balboa park museums have a couple different ones that are free every Tuesday. Beaches, walking around and looking at boats downtown.
 - don't eat out. Really jacks up the expenses. It's a favorite pasttime of mine, so we budget a little bit for it each month.
 - when we want to go out for a beer, we go to a local brewery tasting room that has $1 4oz tasters across the board. The beers are high ABV, so $5 each and you've had your night out.
 - don't use the AC. Even if we only use it for a couple of hours on the hottest days, it jacks our utilities bill up, usually doubling it (~$60 or less, then with AC up to ~$120). Heat is just not necessary in winter. Cooking a meal heats the main rooms, and then put on socks, sweaters, blankets, snuggle with dogs. Turn lights off, use efficient light bulbs, etc.
 - rent as close to work as possible, even if it's not the hippest neighborhood. Our neighborhood is anything but hip. It's not dangerous, it's just not cool. But I live the closest to work of anyone I know. The only reason I don't live in the same neighborhood as my work is that it is the richie-rich, expensive area. I live close enough that I don't have to take the freeway to work, so this saves me on car insurance. (I didn't know this before I moved here, I also didn't move as close to work as possible to be frugal, that was before I found mustachianism. I just hate commuting and being in traffic.) I work early hours to have a short commute without traffic (save gas).


sobezen

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #28 on: September 12, 2014, 03:10:51 PM »
San Francisco native born and raised.  Working in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara.  I can relate to your concerns regarding housing.  I use to rent in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, and owned in Milpitas.  The best advice I can offer you is to get a firm control on your biggest expenses first, then focus on savings afterwards.  Consider moving closer to work, buying a mobile home in the Bay Area, sub-letting or adding roommates to save on rent expenses.  You will ultimately save more monies faster then renting on your own.  I've explored all three options and each have their benefits that depend on your personal situation. 

Only you can determine if you need to be closer to work or if you are willing to live farther, commute by public transit, carpool or drive.  Also factor in your lifestyle which I feel is often overlooked when you relocate to the South Bay versus up North towards San Francisco.  In the South Bay you will drive a lot more.  If you enjoy it and the expenses are ok then consider it.  Personally I do not enjoy living nearby where I work because of the heat, traffic congestion, wasted time driving and the fact nothing is conveniently accessible.  This is painfully noticeable when compared to living up North, especially in San Francisco where you do not even need to drive.  I personally enjoy walking, jogging or biking to the grocery, farmers markets, beaches, parks and other conveniences.  Your mileage may vary but I find generally, you cannot do most of those activities the further South you reside.  That said, another thing that was a high expense after housing was transportation costs (see above) followed by food costs.  If you must eat out you can definitely curb costs if you are a savvy eater since there is such fierce competition among the SF restaurants. Or alternatively you can find ethnic markets which offer some great priced produce too!  I can offer more ideas if you are looking in specific cities.

For entertainment may I suggest the following resources?
Fun:  http://sf.funcheap.com/ and http://cheapbayareadestinations.blogspot.com/
Eats:  http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=cheap+eats&find_loc=San+Francisco%2C+CA
Hike: http://www.mercurynews.com/eat-drink-play/ci_26048605/bay-areas-best-hiking
Stairs: https://www.yahoo.com/travel/urban-hiking-the-stairmaster-of-the-city-93797693957.html
Museums: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/reader-recommendations/sf-bay-area-visit-museums-for-free/msg346165/#msg346165
Libaries:  Interestingly I have a library card in most of the cities I've rented in.  I love the library!

Good luck and let us know how it goes!  Cheers!

dragoncar

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Re: California Mustachians
« Reply #29 on: September 12, 2014, 07:30:38 PM »
San Francisco native born and raised.  Working in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara.  I can relate to your concerns regarding housing.  I use to rent in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Jose, and owned in Milpitas.  The best advice I can offer you is to get a firm control on your biggest expenses first, then focus on savings afterwards.  Consider moving closer to work, buying a mobile home in the Bay Area, sub-letting or adding roommates to save on rent expenses.  You will ultimately save more monies faster then renting on your own.  I've explored all three options and each have their benefits that depend on your personal situation. 

Only you can determine if you need to be closer to work or if you are willing to live farther, commute by public transit, carpool or drive.  Also factor in your lifestyle which I feel is often overlooked when you relocate to the South Bay versus up North towards San Francisco.  In the South Bay you will drive a lot more.  If you enjoy it and the expenses are ok then consider it.  Personally I do not enjoy living nearby where I work because of the heat, traffic congestion, wasted time driving and the fact nothing is conveniently accessible.  This is painfully noticeable when compared to living up North, especially in San Francisco where you do not even need to drive.  I personally enjoy walking, jogging or biking to the grocery, farmers markets, beaches, parks and other conveniences.  Your mileage may vary but I find generally, you cannot do most of those activities the further South you reside.  That said, another thing that was a high expense after housing was transportation costs (see above) followed by food costs.  If you must eat out you can definitely curb costs if you are a savvy eater since there is such fierce competition among the SF restaurants. Or alternatively you can find ethnic markets which offer some great priced produce too!  I can offer more ideas if you are looking in specific cities.

For entertainment may I suggest the following resources?
Fun:  http://sf.funcheap.com/ and http://cheapbayareadestinations.blogspot.com/
Eats:  http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=cheap+eats&find_loc=San+Francisco%2C+CA
Hike: http://www.mercurynews.com/eat-drink-play/ci_26048605/bay-areas-best-hiking
Stairs: https://www.yahoo.com/travel/urban-hiking-the-stairmaster-of-the-city-93797693957.html
Museums: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/reader-recommendations/sf-bay-area-visit-museums-for-free/msg346165/#msg346165
Libaries:  Interestingly I have a library card in most of the cities I've rented in.  I love the library!

Good luck and let us know how it goes!  Cheers!

Goldstar.com is good too for comp tickets + small fee