September marks exactly a year since we set foot in our new rented apartment/house. I can’t begin to explain how lucky we were to stumble upon it and it’s even harder to believe how close we moved to work.
One day, I was driving back to work from a dental appointment when, suddenly, I saw a “For Rent” sign in front of a house on one of the back roads that lead straight to work. I called to inquire about the rental and found out that the house was divided into two units: first floor unit (which was filled), and a second floor unit with a finished attic (where we moved in). It was a weird layout because the house was originally a single family home. That was fine until the owner told me that there was no dishwasher. That would have been a deal breaker for us since I cook often and the wifey is always stuck with all the dishes.
Nevertheless, I told Mrs. Enchumbao about the rental during our commute home. She suggested that we check it out and see if the landlord would be willing to install a dishwasher. We checked out the property and were impressed with the appearance after it was completely renovated by the landlord. To make a long story short, he agreed to add a dishwasher after reconfiguring the kitchen and accommodating a few more things to entice us to take the apartment.
We’ve been living here for a year now and ready to renew the lease for another year at the same rate (wifey negotiated no rent increase for two years in the original lease). Before we decided to find a new apartment, we were concerned with paying a higher rent price. We could afford to pay more, but just because you can afford something, doesn’t mean you should spend the money. After all, saving and investing aggressively is our main priority to reach our financial goal of becoming financially independent. We decided to take the plunge anyway, as we had a feeling the two-mile commute and the additional time back every day would be worth the extra cost.
If I were to tell you that our new rent went up to $1,150 vs. the $750 we were paying, you could easily do the math and say that the difference is an additional $400 in rent per month. While that’s correct, the overall cost, as you’ll see on the table below, tells a different story. So, how has moving closer to work impacted our lives and finances? With a year of data, let’s dig into the numbers and see how we’re doing.
Spending categories affected by the move
|Expense||Last year in old apartment||First year in new apartment||Comments|
|Rent||$9,000||$13,800||Both rentals include heat and water, however, we have to pay for trash and electricity in new place.|
|Electricity||$0||$602||Since we got used to being in a slight heat discomfort, we were able to maintain a $50 monthly electricity cost average.|
|Trash & Recycling||$0||$165||At least we are saving here by splitting the trash bill with our downstairs neighbor.|
|Local Wage Taxes||$1,950||475||This was a pleasant surprise. You should always calculate the local wage tax rate when moving to a new place. Reducing the rate is like getting an instant salary raise.|
|Gasoline||$1,769||$940||Part of the reduction can be attributed to lower gas prices but most of it has to do with the shorter commute.|
|Buying Lunch at Work||$858||$564||We’re able to bring lunch to work more frequently since we get to cook at home more often, or even go home for lunch, if need be.|
|Groceries||$3,549||$4,782||Groceries went up because we’re buying more to cook at home.|
|Restaurants||$4,679||$3,302||Cooking more homemade meals brought the dining out expenses down. It also helps that we’re far from the trendy city, which houses many of our favorite restaurants.|
|Coffee Shops||$222||$140||We’re doing less hanging out at coffee shops and more gatherings by the porch.|
|Total||$22,027||$24,770||Annual additional cost to live in new apartment = $2,743|
For an additional $2,743 per year, or $229 a month, we:
- Have more time to cook homemade meals during the week.
- Have time to blog and tend to other hobbies.
- Upgraded to a dishwasher (Mrs. Enchumbao really appreciates this upgrade).
- Are able to go home during lunch, if needed.
- Have a cozy porch to relax in after work.
- Have a nice park in the backyard with basketball courts and a playground with swing sets.
- Have a train station within a two-block distance that can take us straight to the city of Philadelphia.
- Eliminated the risk of getting into a highway accident while commuting to work.
- Are within walking distance from the beautiful Chester Valley Trail which stretches for 14 miles.
- Have ample parking space for visitors.
- Upgraded from a 1 bedroom with a big living room to a 2 bedroom with a separate dining room, living room and a dance/music room (3rd bedroom).
- Have a landlord that owns a construction company and takes good care of the property.
- Are 15 minutes closer to our rental property.
- Reduced our stressful commute from 40 to 5 minutes.
Commute Time Value
The most important benefit of all is that with our long commute gone, we have more time to enjoy life. We value our time more than anything else and this is why we’re working to reach financial independence. The time that we’re not driving certainly has a value. By moving closer to work, we’re avoiding about a combined 12 hours per week of being in a car. With 48 weeks of work in a year (we have 4 weeks of vacation/sick pay/personal time off), we were spending an additional 576 hours every year in a car (24 days), without counting any delays.
Hypothetically, let’s say that we value our time at $40 per hour. We were spending around $23,040 worth of our time driving, and that didn’t account for wear and tear on our cars.
Building great memories!
We’re very happy and comfortable in our new environment. We’re building great memories with loved ones and hope to be here until we move abroad for our first leg of early retirement. Cheers to gaining more of our time back to be able to share our story with you!