What’s your housing allowance?

So, I was browsing Craigslist last night and came to the realization that I hate California. Okay, that might not be in entirely true, but I sure do hate how much a one bedroom apartment costs.

I have been researching “nicer” apartment complexes and it appears that one bedrooms go for no cheaper than $1,300, but usually hover more around the $1,500-$1,700 mark. Girl Ninja and I want to have some luxuries in our first place and don’t mind paying a little extra for some tennis courts, a workout room, or a pool, but I’m just not sure these benefits are inside of our price range.

I currently live in a two bedroom apartment in a very small 8 complex building. It is in the ghettoest part of a nice area and runs $1,200/month (split between me and the roomie). I wouldn’t feel good about Girl Ninja being in this complex if I had to go on a business trip. It’s a little too shady for someone as smoking hot as she is 🙂

I was keeping my fingers crossed that we could get a one bedroom in a large complex for $1,200. Sadly that’s not gonna happen. Girl Ninja and I are going to have to make one of the following sacrifices….

1) We sacrifice a larger apartment complex with amenities/security.

2) We sacrifice our paychecks

Seriously there is no happy medium. We either pay $1,200 for a quasi-ghetto place or fork over $1,500 for a place we would love.

Here’s two pictures of a $1,200 San Diego apartment on craigslist…

and here is what a $1,500 apartment looks like…

Quite a bit of difference in my opinion. I bring home $3,600/month after tax. If we find something for $1,200 that is 33% of my take home pay going to housing. If we pay $1,500/month that puts us up at 41%. I never thought I would even consider putting more than 35% of my pay in to housing…especially when it’s rent.

If you are wondering why Girl Ninja’s income isn’t accounted for, it’s because we decided to pretend like she makes NO money. Primarily because she doesn’t plan to work forever so we don’t want to get use to having her income and then take a huge financial hit when she quits. And secondly, she is substitute teaching and has made anywhere from $0/month (in the summer months) to $2,000/month (if she is able to get a job every single day). Her income varies greatly and I’d feel more comfortable pretending like any money she makes is just a bonus.

So now I query you..

What percentage of your income do you put towards your housing? (To figure it out, take your monthly mortgage or rent obligation and divide it by your monthly take home pay).

What is the maximum you would allow towards housing?

What’s more important to you, quality or price?

p.s. My share of the rent is currently 16% of my net income. This marriage thing is going to be expensive 🙂

65 thoughts on “What’s your housing allowance?

  1. I work part time so my income varies by the number of hours I work, but usually my housing hovers between 29% and 33%.

  2. I don't have any real input as I'm still enjoying the good life at my parent's house. But, I did want to say that the last image of the apartment isn't loading for me. When clicked, I get a 404 Not Found.

  3. We own our house so no rent, and I don't work right now so I can stay home with the boys and go to school. Our housing was at 20% before my husband got laid off. Now that he's working again, it's around 14%! Home ownership can be expensive, but is definitely cheaper than renting! Of course, we live in a cheaper area, too!

    Have you tried looking at rental homes, duplexes, or quads? You may not get all the amenities, but maybe you could find a nicer place for your money.

    Good luck in your decision!

  4. My wife and I have a combined after tax income of roughly $2800 per month, and we spend $850 per month on our apartment, which is about 30% of our income.

    P.S. You really need to move to the South. Here in Columbia, SC a quick internet check says you could find a comparable apartment to your $1500 example for between $1050 and $1100.

  5. I'm at about 43% towards my mortgage. Yes, that is too high and yes, it makes saving a ton difficult, but I am making due, saving enough for now (plenty into my 401k and still some left over to add to my already full 6 month emergency fund), and not having a negative cash-flow. I am young and know that my income will continue to rise (in fact I got promoted today, so once I find out what kind of raise I get I can update that percent)

  6. I'm at 19% right now, but my fiance and I are dealing with this same issue right now. I just don't know how far to take the "rent-creep"! I've tried to convince him to stay in my current apartment but there's no central AC. I live in a 4 unit house, so the big apartment complex atmosphere kind of turns me off. But finding a place like mine that allows pets and has central air has been really hard, and it sucks thinking about paying $200+ more than what I am now.

  7. I live in the Bay Area, so believe me — I completely understand it when you say, "I hate California!"

    Right now I live in a one-bedroom apartment with basic amenities (most importantly, the washer & dryer are in the unit! you wouldn't believe how hard that is to find) that costs my boyfriend and I nearly 50% of our take-home pay. We pay pretty close to market rate, perhaps even a bit -less-, but perhaps it'll even the numbers out if I explain that we're both recently graduated English majors. 😉

    Oh, but housing… sometimes I wish to move out of California simply because I'd be saving twice as much money each month. Certainly would make it easier to take that trip around the world I'm saving for! But then I'd miss California, foibles and all. Tough call.

  8. Rent (including utilities) is 35-40% of our combined after tax income. If you thought California was bad, Washington DC is worse. We are both starting in the workforce and our jobs are seemingly secure so that percentage should decline rapidly over the next couple of years. Of course, cheaper places are readily available (I like to imagine what I can do with an extra 10% in my pocket), but we pay are willing to pay a premium to make our lives easier. We currently reside in a cozy apartment that allows pets, has built in washer/dryer and dishwasher, everything we need is within walking distance including groceries, entertainment, arts, museums, pubs, and work (WalkScore: 91), a garage to park our car (when we need it), and a secure building in a quiet safe neighborhood. It is important to keep in mind that you are not just renting the apartment, but the whole neighborhood.

  9. SO and I just downsized from 23% of our (combined) gross income to 13% of our gross income – including utilities. It's great, especially since I'm in grad school and he's about to be – it leaves lots of room for tuition payments. We sacrificed an entire bedroom, nicer finish, and location, but the new place is still big enough, in decent shape, and we've put aside part of the money we saved for cabs to get us anywhere we need to go. I'm now putting aside 30% of my gross income for tuition payments, short to mid term savings, and retirement.

  10. @cmac322, leave DC. Move to VA or MD, much better! Seriously, the state tax rates alone save you–actually, just move to VA; MD has locality taxes that can be silly. And having lived in DC, VA and CA, California is still the worst.

    To answer your question Ninja, honey and I pay 30% of MY net income on housing. On our combined incomes, we pay 20%, but honey's hours are variable. Utilities are included with our rent price. We have a pool, washer/dryer in unit, and dishwasher in unit. We have one free parking space and pay for the garage space. All in all not a bad deal, which is why I've lived there twice (once alone, this time with honey). You have to determine HOW MUCH these excesses are worth to you. While I certainly see the difference in the apartments, I'd live in the cheaper one at least for the first year just to keep costs down and get settled. That's just me though. I'd totally understand either choice you made though.

  11. I pay 20-22% of my income for housing (depends if I count overtime), that's including the $20 I pay for laundry each month. What's crazy is that I pay like 15% of my income toward student loans. arggh.

    I can't see the 2nd pictures of the 2nd apt that you posted..but it looks like it would go for 2500 in Manhattan. Studios in my buildings are 2k.

    I would pay up to 45% of my income for housing (but that's becuase I don't pay anyting more than $89 for transportation).

  12. @Ronnie, I know I can get cheaper rent in VA, in fact, that is where I will look if I get out-priced from my current place, but I am big proponent of walkable neighborhoods and refuse to be a slave to the car. And because the SO and I can walk to work, we both save money on gas, public transportation, car maintenance and we don't have to deal with the stress of rush hour twice a day.

  13. For a decent place in Sonoma County, CA that provides some safety and security, I pay about 34% of my paycheck for housing, no utilities included. CA is just expensive in some areas, but I wouldn't live anywhere else. It's too close to family, friends, and an atmosphere I adore.

  14. I think it is about 26% for "my share" of the rent — T pays the rest. But take home is significantly lower than it has to be since I have so much taken out pre-tax. And I think that should be considered, as when we moved in together, I basically put all the money I saved in rent into my 401k pretax.

    Personally, I've found amenities & large complexes to be totally NOT worth it — way over priced and under utilized. I love my 10 unit building much much more than the giant complex I was in before, and it is in a safe area and plenty secure.

    One more thought — we uppped our housing budget by $100 for a place we really really loved (location location location!) and it was so totally worth it. (But we went from paying $2500 for two apartments to $1600 for one, so it felt like a big bargain.)

  15. On a combined income basis with my fiance, I pay 19% of my net income for rent, he pays 16% – 2 BR, 1.5 bath, loft – converted factory apartment, including utilities. For our area it's a bargain @ 1000/mo + utilities and it's in a great neighborhood. Similar properties are rented around $1200-1400/mo. We may upgrade to a historic rowhouse in the future, which would put me around 25% of income. For the charm & added space, totally worth it, IMO. (I live outside Philly, BTW – where renting is mostly affordable, buying is another story)

    In my former single life in a different town, I paid about 36% toward rent & utilities. Totally worth it. My apartment was in a great neighborhood and I was in walking distance of nearly everything (including my job!) and I had a garden.

    So for $300, uh yeah, I'd go for the better apartment. Sometimes you can't put a price on convenience or peace of mind 🙂

  16. I think that having a nicer place is way more important than percentages. Sure, you don't want to be crazy and spend every penny on a place, but you're talking about big differences, that seem to be important. If you have some more amenities you can cut back else where. Eat out less and grill by the pool, have friends over by the pool instead of going out. You don't want to hear weird sounds and wonder if it's someone breaking in. I say go for the better place.

    And we pay about 30% toward our housing.

    • I agree with Anon and Melissa. This is only a $300 difference, you get a safer area and better apartment, and hopefully you'll see a raise or two in the future. You also have to figure what utilities are included in that price (water, heat/AC, gas/electric – or not). But honestly, I don't see why GN couldn't get a part-time or weekend job to cover some of your expenses, especially if there are no BNs or KNs (baby ninjae or kid ninjae) just yet. This is 2010 and I see no good reason why women should not form part of the workforce.

      My own % = 23% of net, 14% of gross in Long Island, NY. But that's partly because our co-op board negotiated a 20% decrease in maintenance expenses this past winter, and because after 20 years there I'm paying virtually no interest on the mortgage.

      • Larry, if you look back in the post I did indicate GN will be working. She is a substitute teacher and is at the mercies of the sub system. Some times she works 5 days a week, other time she only gets called once or twice a week. So she is definitely going to be working and contributing, it's just her income will fluctuate. I also mentioned that I like to pretend her income doesn't exist as she and I will be living on my income alone, that way we can save all of hers. When baby ninja's come in to the picture she wants to be a stay at home mom. Instead of getting use to her income and then taking a big hit when she quits, we are going to pretend it doesn't exist so we don't become dependent on it.

        Hope that clears things up.

        • Yes, I understood some of that, PD. But you gotta remember that your readers don't have as intimate an awareness of your situation as you do! I trust you'll make the best decision for yourselves. (Though of course, when BNs come into the picture, your expenses could go up quite a lot!)

          Anyhow, FWIW, I realize now that my own % was including only my mortgage and maintenance payments. Add utilities and the cleaning service I use once a month, and it comes to 29% of net / 17% of gross.

  17. I live in Australia and we pay $1400/mth on our mortgage – we live in the "poorer" side of town. We used to rent a similar house on the "better" side of town and our rent then was the same as our mortgage payments are now. Thats for a 3br house, 1 bathroom.
    As a guide to cost of living, that $1400 is 33% of our take home income.

  18. I live in Northern VA and it is equally as expensive. I have a good deal and only pay $875/month for a one bedroom, but that's cuz I have NO amenities whatsoever. And that's still almost 35% of my take home salary. Boo for non-profits.

  19. Much depends on your future plans. How long do you intend to live at an apartment? How will having children change your housing situation? In regards to the third question, it has been something I've been struggling with for some time. Balancing quality of life versus having a secure future is pretty tough. Lately, I've been focusing on quality because we are still able to save some money still. It seems like we can never save enough, but we can be too cheap on life which can cause resentment.

  20. I live in Ontario Canada and as a rule we have decided that our housing costs shouldn't exceed 30% of our take home pay. We come significantly under that with our mortgage and other housing expenses so we are putting extra down on our principal to come up to 30%. Any of the financial gurus say no more than 35% should go to your housing but I get where you are coming from. The nicer place is much better than were you are living now. Decisions, decisions!!!!!

  21. Mortgage, Real Estate taxes, and Home Owners Insurance add up to about 26% of our (my and my husband's) combined take-home pay. That said, we have a lot of stuff taken out of the take-home other than taxes (FSA for medical expenses, FSA for childcare, 401(k), health insurance, transportation costs, etc). So it's actually a smaller percentage of our after-tax pay.

  22. I live in CA, I know what you mean – rent prices are ridiculous (though they've been coming down). We were able to get a fairly nice 1 bdrm for $1200. No amenities other than laundry and parking are included, but there's a park across the street with tennis courts and a pool. Could you find something like that?

    Have you thought about a studio in one of the big, nice complexes?

  23. I own my home (or should I say I have a mortgage) and I pay about 21%of my income to housing. But, I also live in the South, so home prices are much more affordable. I am employed in higher education administration and make a decent enough salary in comparison to my mortgage.

  24. Rent a 2 BR condo – 19.5% inside the beltway in the DC metro area (VA side) b/c DH is underemployed. 1 mile from metro, includes mini-gym, pool & water, free parking, walkable to everything. We moved in Aug. to pay $200 more to get a deck that walks out onto this huge strip of grass no one else uses (before we had no deck). Felt like we expanded our floor space 200%. Totally worth the $200; we stay in a little more, e.g. less walks to the ice cream parlor just to be outside, garden growing, nice to sit outside and read.

    Remember how you should wait to purchase something you *think* you want/need? DO IT! Watch Craigslist for a month or two. It's almost summer – many will move and due to competition prices will drop. I did this for a month & a half, and something beautiful came up. Also condos tend to rent for cheaper b/c the mortgage is (usually) steady; rental companies charge way more & have huge annual increases.

  25. Our mortgage is 21% of hubby's gross. With the extra principal each month it is upped to 33% (yikes I had never figured that out before).
    Quality or price? Good question and it differs in each situation. One thing I wouldn't sacrifice is safety. Maybe you could find a smaller/cheaper place in the safer part of town. Having lived in 2 apartment complexes post college I have to say the gyms and pools are so under used I might not hold those in super high esteem. If you use them, great. But I would hate for you two to imagine daily runs on the treadmill followed by a post work out swim and in reality use it once a month. Don't you already live in the sunniest place on earth, couldn't you run to the beach and jump in? Maybe that's just me being a cynical Seattle-ite; although it in not raining today, whoohoo:)
    Also, how would the $7,200 swing (the rent difference over 2 years) affect your home buying plans?
    Trina

  26. Thats why we left San Diego. We pay 28% of our gross on PITI and paying for a 2000 sq ft home what your paying for a ghetto one bedroom.

  27. I don't live in California, but I refuse to believe there is NO happy medium. I say keep looking. If after a few more months (I'm not sure about your timeframe) of searching there is still absolutely no compromise, I think you should get the better (more expensive) place. (I'm also assuming you're actually checking out places, even ones that you are iffy about.) If security is a big issue for you, it's not worth losing sleep or worrying about it. And it's definitely not worth having to pay for (god forbid) a break-in or something.

  28. I own a 3 bedroom house in upstate NY. I bring home $2180 a month and pay a mortgage of $960 a month. That is 44% of my income, a bit too much for me. However, I live with my boyfriend and contributes another $1800 a month to our income bringing the percentage of our income going toward the mortgage down to 24%. I've always thought it was best to keep housing costs below 30%… so when deciding to purchase a house I wanted something I could afford within that range.

  29. I like apartment #2 for $1500. It’s only $300 more and the place is much much more luxurious.

    We spend about 30% of our income to our mortgage as well. That’s typical when living in Cali where the sunshines and party til dawn.

  30. Before I got a full-time job, our 2 BR was about 22% of our income. It's a lot lower for the moment, but my husband's about to lose his unemployment so… Of course, housing in AZ is cheap. Utilities can go crazy, though, so we made sure to find a place with a set price. (A ridiculously low $35.)

    I think you should stay as close to 25% as possible. I know it's hard in higher-income areas. Have you looked around at suburbs? Or is that just not a possibility?

    How low-rent (so to speak) is your current place?

    Also, there is always the possibility that you find a place where you can get a roommate. I know it's not ideal but…

  31. Less than 13% of our mine and my husband's income (combined) goes to rent. We're very lucky and live very comfortably.

  32. Right now we put about 18% towards our house. We just moved and before we were only putting 15% towards housing. I feel like we're getting close to the top of the price range that I'm comfortable with spending on housing. That 3% jump is costing us an extra $200 a month, but the new house is much nicer and bigger and we've got a huge yard. The old house was on a postage stamp and the sewer backed up every few months. 🙁 You might want to just go for the nicer place instead of upgrading in a couple of years b/c any saving from the first place would be wiped out by moving costs and moving really sucks too!

  33. I bought a house last year in Southwest Ohio and my monthly mortgage payment is 19% of my income for a modest home in a nice neighborhood. That includes the homeowner's insurance and property taxes, which we escrow.

    And that's not considering my girlfriend's income. If you do that, it's about 12% of our combined income.

    Southwest Ohio, housing-bubble free since 1987!

  34. I also live in Northern VA and I pay $959 per month, all utilities included. My take home pay every month is $2650, so that brings me to 36% of my net pay. Believe it or not, my apartment is a STEAL for the neighborhood I live in, and it's rent-controlled. My housing costs are a little on the high side, but I LOVE my neighborhood, so I'm not moving anytime soon.

  35. I am about 40% and that includes: mortgage, utilities, Internet, lawn, trash, pest control. In Mar 10, my % dropped to 23.9 because I made so much OT. =o)

  36. Oh! I, too, take out money for FSA: Medical ($1K) and Childcare ($5K). I do not incorporate that into my take home – although I do get full benefit of the $6K.

  37. Gosh – last post – I swear! It is good that you are thinking about it in those terms – one salary. Everyone should because it would hurt really bad if someone didn't have a job and one person had to hold things up. You shouldn't have to tap into emergency funds to keep the family afloat is someone is still working. If it was a long term issue that someone was out of a job, then the family would go down in flames once they burned through their emergency money money and one salary couldn't hold it together.

  38. 22% for me, I am single and live by myself in a 2BR in FL….. 1000 sq/ft. I signed lease last fall when they were offering a special. Don't be a hater, it's $725/month.

  39. I also live in the same state (and city!) as you, so I definitely know what you mean by high rent… but, it's not NEARLY as bad as NYC, DC, San Francisco or LA! I pay 41% of my take home pay to rent (not incl utilities), but I am okay with that. Why? LOCATION! I live in one of the safest and most walkable neighborhoods of the city. Being petite, this is a must for me 🙂 It's also a convenient location to everything for driving: 7 miles to work, 1 mile to my favorite grocery stores, and not too far from other things. I can walk to my gym, two parks, library, mall, MANY restaurants, and a select few bars. I have never, ever felt unsafe – so for that peace of mind, I don't mind paying 41% towards rent. (And yes, I'm still able to save 25% of my take home pay each month, too!) Our place is decent for the price: 2000sq ft townhouse rental, lots of space for 3 roommates, includes a washer/dryer in the apartment, garage + extra parking, etc. (You should look in this area for nice 1-bedrooms, they go for $1,200-$1,300!)

    I actually don't want to leave this location, and would be willing to pay up to 45% of my take home pay towards rent. Also, you should note that my take home pay is just under $2K per month. 🙂

  40. Our rent is 37% of my take home pay but 21% of our combined take home pay. We sacrificed convenience for cost and size. We used to have a house in IN, so we decided to move into a 3 story townhouse over an apartment in a larger town. Unfortunately, due to the recession, we can't sell the house in IN, so we rent it out instead, but that still weighs on our finances. Additionally, large debt payments limit our options on buying a place, so for now, we stay where we are.

    I personally would opt for the nicer place. I've lived in one of those larger complexes when I was in LA for school and I preferred to have the security as well as the amenities even though it wasn't the best part of town. And I did actually use the pool and hot tub frequently.

  41. Okay, first sad part was me calculating what my take-home pay is compared to what my salary is. Wow, taxes, you slay me!
    But after that sad realization, I discovered that I only spend ~14% of my take home pay on rent. That being said, I'm living in a four-bedroom apartment, so that makes the rent split up pretty nicely. We live in the top two floors of a 3-floor, two family house. I'm not sure what housing is like out by you, but that's a pretty popular setup in my area. Anyway, that's my suggestion…find a place like mine!
    Here's the thing…I've loved living in such a cheap place, because it's allowed me to use my money for other things (like savings and paying off debt). But if you're not comfortable living in the sketchy areas, I say move some place a little nicer. Keep looking!

  42. Hmmmm when I was looking for 1 bedrooms on CL a few months ago in San Diego I remember seeing a few in the $1000-1200 range that didn't seem half bad.

    Now you've got me scared Ninja!!!!!

    BTW, you should still check out some of the less expensive places AND go drive around in areas you like. A lot of places go so fast that they're gone before they can even list. My good friend got a smashing deal on a 1bd, 900 sq ft apartment in a great location in Hillcrest for $900/month. I joke you not. And it wasn't listed, she just drove by, saw the apartment, asked the manager if any were going to become available. And he said that one would be in 7 weeks, and she took it.

  43. Would you actually use all those amenities?

    When we lived somewhere with a pool, gym and courts, we rarely used them. It didn't help that other residents often hogged them when we wanted to use them, and weren't exactly the type we wanted to socialise with.

    My share of our combined rent is 25%, although BF's income isn't steady at this point.

  44. My husband and I spend about 16% of our takehome pay on rent for our 2 bedroom apartment (roughly 1000 sq ft) in OH. It's not a fancy apartment complex, but it does have a pool and is in a nice part of the city, and we're focusing on saving money right now. When we moved here, I was still in school and we felt as if we actually stretched our budget to live here, though I don't remember the exact figures at that time.
    – Jenn

  45. My husband is the only one that works…I am staying home and 'playing' house aka getting ready to have babies soon. Anyways…we own our house and our mortgage payment is 16% of my husbands take home pay. Owning a home is expensive, but we think it is the best option for us, since where we live (Nebraska) rent is much higher than owning a home and we get more home for our money!

  46. Again, move to the South. I am only paying $612.00 for a one bedroom that is equivalent to your second photo and that’s in an expensive part of Alabama.

  47. 20% of my take home income goes on rent. I then save around 60% for my house deposit so really 80% of my income goes on housing! The rest goes to putting away for bills that come throughout the year and my allocation for petrol (gas), food and sanity money. And no my income isn't that great it is below the Australian average, but I am VERY frugally but love my life much better than when I had debt and stress coming out of my ears.

  48. Is a two bedroom a necessity or a want? How much would the nice neighborhood 1 bedroom cost? We're a 2 income family, so our mortgage+everything house related is less than 30% – but when my husband was laid off and we were doing it on my income – 47% (youch!)

  49. I'm with Michelle. My vote is to go for the nicer neighborhood, but also look at 1 BRs and studio apartments just to gain some perspective on your buying power. Some studios are actually not that bad size wise. In NYC, they are quite common but still large enough to host friends. I didn't need much space til I had kids..even with all our gear. (usually there's a storage locker or basement that can be used for that stuff)

  50. Oh I hear ya. I'm looking for apartments with my fiancee and we are pretending like he doesn't have an income (because he's still job searching and we'd rather say "yeah! extra savings" than "heaven help us, you still haven't found a job?") But it's so tempting, seeing what an extra $200 a month would get us to say "Surely we can rely on your income a LITTLE…..

    For now, holding firm at 30% of my take home.

  51. I think you would be safe contributing 41% of your take home income to rent/mortgage payments. The 35% guideline is aimed more towards people with little financial knowledge. They take home 50k a year and devote 25k to mortgage payments to a house that is well above their means.

  52. With both of our incomes, our housing allowance comes to 19%. With only my husband's income, our housing allowance comes to 32%. Not bad, if I do say so myself. Personally, I would opt for the nicer place. I'm sure you can cut $300 somewhere else. Opt for the small cable package or something.

  53. If we were not making prepayment on our mortgage our total housing costs would be 13% of gross income. We are making very aggressive prepayments and our total housing costs with prepayments in 2009 was 41% of our gross income.

  54. I give up 1/3 of my paycheck for rent every month. My room mate handles utilities. So far, after reading this blog for a while, I've learned that you spent what I spent on my entire college education on one semester where you're going to school, and I'm paying 1/3 what you're going to pay for a one bedroom apartment for a 2 bedroom apartment. It's crazy the economic differences of 2 states in the same country. Consequently, I'm also only making about 1/3 what you make. 🙁

  55. I am a new reader, and must say that I quite enjoy your blog! I'm thinking about starting my own anonymous debt blog, too…. In any event. My take home is between $6400/7000/month and we rent a condo for $2250. Living in Southern California, this seems to be about the norm. We also don't really count the income of my wife, so our take home each month does fluctuate.

    My vote — nicer place. It'll be worth the extra $300/mo to love where you live.

  56. Our mortgage is around 30% for a 20 year mortgage. I also live in Maine, so you could get an amazing apartment for $1200 here.____That being said, I think the best time in your life to live in some place crappy is at the beginning of your marriage. Once you move up a little bit on the nice-ness factor, you always want to keep going up! You never want to live in a $1200 apartment after a $1500 apartment.____I'd say go for the apartment for as long as you can take it. Then move up 🙂

  57. Man, oh, man, I am glad I don't live in California! Our total rent is $460, so my share of it is 50% or $230. Home costs (rent, Internet and electricity) account for about 26% of my part-time income. Once I graduate and start working full-time, that percentage will go down.

    I definitely think being comfortable with Girl Ninja staying alone in the apartment is more important than saving money. So I would opt for the nicer place. Good luck!

  58. Is a two bedroom a necessity or a want? How much would the nice neighborhood 1 bedroom cost? We’re a 2 income family, so our mortgage+everything house related is less than 30% – but when my husband was laid off and we were doing it on my income – 47% (youch!)

  59. Nice and interesting article to read. Housing allowance is an important element while negotiating your pay with your employer.It is recommended to rent a place for longer term.

  60. I put 10% of my income towards my rent.

    Here's another option for you. You may not like it, but…

    Can you find additional roommates? You can get a nicer apartment in a safe neighborhood if you're willing to share with other roommates. You can get a decent 2br for $2000-$2500 and split two ways that is still in your $1200 budget (or thereabouts.)

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