The True Cost of Living in My Parents’ Basement

yellow
love me some colorful doors

“You’re being so smart. Don’t move out until you have enough for a mortgage!”

“You’re so lucky to have parents’ that live so close.”

“Oh my, I’d have all debts paid off I lived with my parents!”

Well, most of the time I strongly agree with these statements. I mean, let’s be real, moving back in with your parents isn’t so bad when they live in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city, there’s public transportation only a few steps away, and they love and accept you.

But now that summer is officially over and traffic is back to miserable, my commute is getting the best of me. My patience is running out and I have never been more ready to GTFO. Time is money, so why am I okay justifying a two-hour commute for my savings?

I agree, I’m saving money by not renting in NYC. But just how much? I pay a lot for transportation costs and I am contributing to the household in other ways. So what does my monthly “rent” living at home?

Transportation

First and foremost, busing it to Port Authority is not cheap. Even though buses are always late and the infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the demand. They know we have no choice and will pay. I spend $345.40 per month ($260 of which is pretax) simply to get into the city.

Year Total = $4,144.80

Once I’m in the city I need to make my way to Union Square — up until May I was buying a monthly unlimited MetroCard — I now own a yearly subscription to Citibike and only take the subway when the weather requires it.

Unlimited MetroCard = $484 ($121 per month, I had one for four months)

CitiBike yearly membership = $169.85 (purchased during May special + one ride to test it out beforehand)

Occasional subway rides (as of this post) = $194.30

NYC Travel Total = $848.15 YTD

When you commute five days a week, it seems pretty pointless to own a car. Unless of course, you live in a New Jersey suburb, where you’ll need a car to get to the grocery store. Sigh. This makes me pretty dependent on others’ time and schedule to do things that I want/need to do, like, attend my volunteer workshops or visit friends in other parts of the state.

Lyft – $129.84

Other (trains and gas) – $179.54

NJ Travel Total = $309.38 YTD

Transportation Total – $5,302.33/year

IMG-0077
cute row of homes in chicago.

Miscellaneous 

While my parents do not charge me rent, I do contribute to the household in other ways. There is no reason why I – an adult with a full-time salaried position – cannot help my parents out with minor expenses that I benefit from. These expenses range from the internet to toiletries.

Internet – $627.36

Utilities – $890.09

Toiletries are too specific to count but let’s just assume I buy two 24-pack Target brand toilet paper ($18.98), two 6-pack Viva paper towels ($15.98), and two Arm & Hammer laundry detergents ($23.98) every two months -$353.64

Total Misc. Contributions = $1,871.09

Non-monetary

Then there are those non-monetary costs that come with living at home, like time lost commuting or opportunities to make new friends. I’m not one to shy away from after-work or weekend activities in the city because of my commute, but I am more reluctant to spontaneity when the last bus I can catch is at 11pm.

Last month I attended a great panel on Personal Finance for Latinas where ended up chatting with two women, only to cut it short because I didn’t want to wait another hour for the next bus. This happens a lot. It’s not impossible to make friends when you’re living at home but it’s certainly more difficult.

Time is our most valuable resource and I spend about 20 hours of my week on a bus. That’s a side-hustle right there. I try to be productive as possible on the bus and listen to my long list of podcasts or read until I’m dizzy. But, by the time I’m home I only have about three hours before bedtime. And I don’t even get that much time to sleep — I’m averaging about six hours. So what the hell?

IMG-5150

True cost

Who knows maybe living closer to the city won’t solve my problem with making new friends though it will afford me more time for my personal projects.

Transportation – $5,302.33

Misc. Contributions = $1,871.09

Total Cost Per Year- $7,173.42

Monthly Cost or “Rent” – $597.79

My hypothetical one-bedroom apartment

Given that I’ll be moving in with Ari, we need to compromise on our needs/wants. For me, the short commute is a must, something 40 minutes or less. There is no way I’m moving out of my parents’ house only to have another grueling commute. For Ari, it’s a no-go for studio apartments. He lived in one for two years and hated the cabin fever feeling it gave him. Adding another human, whilst his favorite, would only make this worse. Therefore, looking at studios is pretty much out of the question. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Doing a quick StreetEasy search for one-bedrooms in Brooklyn I found three decent options. They’re all at or below $2,000, our limit for rent — we’re really aiming to pay around $800-$950 each per month. And they’re all under that 40-minute commute, although cutting it real close.

If I’m being honest, I don’t like any of these apartments. For the sake of an example, let’s say I go with the Saint Marks apartment, a one-bedroom with new appliances and a 36-minute commute to work.

Here’s how my monthly expenses play out:

My half of rent – $987.50

Unlimited metro-card (because that seems like a long bike ride) – $121

Occasional Lyfts and transportation home – $30

Internet (my half) – $27

Monthly expenses – $1,165.50 (this not including any utilities) 

This is way more than I expected it to be and I certainly do not want to be pay this much for my living situation. Unfortunately, this is the reality of NYC’s rental market. We are strongly considering staying in NJ, although, Jersey City hasn’t proven to be THAT much cheaper.

Final thoughts

While living at home isn’t free, it is WAY cheaper than any apartment I’d need to share in NYC or its surrounding boroughs. Moving out means paying an extra $567.52 (NYC Rent – Parents’ “Rent”) each month in housing expenses. Close to 50%!

I want my own place. I want my independence. I want a shorter commute. I want to move in with Ari. But these aren’t NEEDS … maybe moving in with Ari is?

Yes, the goal is to eventually have my own place, and I know I will. This post is a painful reminder that moving out will cost more and right now this shouldn’t be my priority. I need to focus instead of paying off the remaining student loan balance. I AM SOOO CLOSE.

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