My monthly rent just went from $1,500 per month to $350 per month. Yes, you read that right – I just started saving $1,150 on my rent each and every month! (Do I sound like a Geico insurance ad?) This is part of the move I have referenced as of late and part of my long-term plan to hitting the road full time within the next 12 months. The place I was renting in California was a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom stand-alone house with rather high utility bills each month, while the place I am now renting in New Mexico is a studio-sized bungalow near town with all the utilities included. Counting rent, utilities, and entertainment, my costs for the house in California added up to about $1,750, while the costs for the studio in New Mexico add up to, well, exactly $350. I no longer have cable TV, and my heat/water/internet service is included in the rent, so my monthly expenses for the place end at the full cost of my rent each month. This may be too much sacrifice for some people, but for me it’s a means to an end — one I am looking forward to.
From my new place, I can walk to Whole Foods, several different restaurants and coffee shops, and it’s a perfectly small, affordable studio for me to start assembling my plan of action for the coming year. In order to make the transition to my new space (and future plans) work though, I had to make several major changes, one of which I had wanted to do for many years — significantly downsize my personal belongings. So in the few days I had to clear out and pack up my house, I donated enough goods to fill up two mini vans.
It was all superfluous stuff that wasn’t necessary to my life but had been accumulated over the years and that had taken its spot as a regular in my home. But while going through each item in my house, I was able to see it as “extra” and not a necessity, making it easier to donate to those less fortunate than myself. After clearing out the donations, I was left with two piles; one with just a few bags of personal items and computer equipment to take with me, and another pile of pricey furniture I wasn’t ready to dispose of and may want to use later. All said, I would say I am left with only about 35% of the stuff I started this adventure with just a few short weeks ago, and it feels amazing to have cleared out so much! Some may see that as a sacrifice, but I see it as progress, as my entire life feels way lighter now. After all, not everything can fit in one of these, can it?
My new rental is tiny compared to the house I was renting but the rent is $1,150 less per month. I don’t have any utility bills at all. My only monthly bills at this point are as follows:
- Rent $350
- AT&T iPhone Bill $95
- Storage $100
- Website Hosting $40
- Netflix $14.99
- Car Insurance $40
- BackBlaze Computer Backup $5
I am sacrificing my own space, my stuff, some mindless entertainment, big-city living (if that’s a sacrifice, as sometimes it isn’t), and the accompaniment of some old close friends as I start this journey of mine. And while not everyone is willing to move and/or downsize this significantly in order to save money, I wanted to write this post to show you that’s it not that difficult if you make the right choices for you (in terms of location, etc.) and you have an end goal that you are working towards. If I stay 12 months in my new place and keep all expenses the same, I could potentially put away $16,800 just from the cheaper rent alone, never mind any other money I have always saved each and every month outside of that. That is money that will enable me to pay cash (along with the trading in of my current car) for a truck and a trailer/camper I will be living in most of the year, along with putting a healthy amount of extra savings in the bank to pay for my travels and repairs on the road. I will be keeping my current “home base” because it is so cheap and I can lock it up and hit the road without worrying about taking care of it or paying the bills. I will always have a place to come back to for a rest or to regroup.
This type of life is definitely not for everyone, but with the right changes/choices, your dream life can be possible too. It just takes a little courage and some planning and you can be on your way to living life the way you want to, not the way others expect you to. In the big picture, I am not sacrificing anything of any true importance; rather I am giving up some things and exchanging them for an experience more valuable to me than “stuff” could ever be. You only get one shot at life — make it count.
(photo credit: p_x_g)