How Our Home Expenses Changed A Year After Moving Closer to Work

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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. The house was divided into two units: an occupied first floor unit, and a vacant second floor unit with a finished attic.

No dishwasher?

The house had a weird layout because it 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.

Ready for a lease renewal

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.

Spending categories affected by the move

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.

Home expenses

ExpenseLast year in old apartmentFirst year in new apartment Comments
Rent$9,000$13,800Both rentals include heat and water, however, we have to pay for trash and electricity in new place.
Electricity$0$602Since we got used to being in a slight heat discomfort, we were able to maintain a $50 monthly electricity cost average.
Trash & Recycling$0$165At least we are saving here by splitting the trash bill with our downstairs neighbor.
Local Wage Taxes $1,950 475This 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$940Part 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$564We’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$4,782Groceries went up because we’re buying more to cook at home.
Restaurants$4,679$3,302Cooking 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$140We’re doing less hanging out at coffee shops and more gatherings by the porch.
Total $22,027 $24,770Annual additional cost to live in new apartment = $2,743

Benefits of moving

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
home expenses
We love the charm of a remodeled old house.
home expenses
The park has two basketball courts with 4 nets. Who’s game?
home expenses
Swing sets and a playground for the ones that never want to grow up! Mrs. Enchumbao drags me to the swing sets every time and makes me swing like a child.
  • have a train station within a two-block distance that can take us straight to 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
home expenses
The Chester Valley Trail currently stretches 14 miles between Exton and King of Prussia in Pennsylvania.
  • have ample parking space for visitors
home expenses
This is part of our U-shaped driveway with ample parking space.
  • 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
  • and most importantly, we reduced our stressful commute from 40 to 5 minutes.

Commute time value

With our long commute gone, we now 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 speaking, if we were to value our time at $40 per hour, we would’ve been spending around $23,040 worth of our time driving. And that doesn’t even account for wear and tear on our cars.

The lot on our right is part of the park.


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 for our first leg of early retirement. Cheers to gaining more of our time back to be able to share our story with you!

How does your commute affect your expenses?

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Mr. Enchumbao

Mr. Enchumbao retired at 44. He worked for 13 years at Vanguard, primarily as a Communications Project Leader in the Institutional Division, helping people save for retirement.

  1. LM

    Interesting analysis! I like the way the difference in cost more than justifies with the quality of living. Nothing in life is free my friend 🙂 but feels like you are gaining more than what you are spending. Excellent decision!

  2. Des @ Half Banked

    I love how detailed you got with this analysis! In the past year, I made the switch from living and working downtown, to living in the suburbs and working downtown, to finally getting a job in the suburbs, so I feel like I’ve lived every extreme – and by far the most expensive one was the one with the big commute! Not only was I paying for a car (because The Suburbs) but I was paying for a monthly bus pass as well, which ran me a cool $125 a month. It was still cheaper than driving for 30 minutes one way and paying downtown parking rates, but wow – saving that has made a huge difference! And the time I save every day with my new 5-minute commute is still a luxury I don’t take for granted.

    Awesome post – I’m glad I found your blog!

    • MrEnchumbao

      Hi Des,
      Thanks! I’m glad you love the details. It’s great to be able to make the switch and find a job within such a short distance. The big commute cost does add up, especially when you have tolls and lots of highway miles to drive. That $125 monthly bus pass is a cool $1,500 addition to your savings. Awesome!
      Cheers to you getting all that time back. Thanks for dropping by! We’re so happy that you and others are finding our blog.

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