There’s one simple trick you can use to make apartment hunting in San Francisco less painful. It’s been tried over the years by a number of people, and it works one hundred percent of the time that it’s done correctly! It even gives you the opportunity to spend less on rent!
What’s this one simple trick, and why isn’t everybody doing it? Let’s answer the second question first:
Because It’s A Huge Pain In The Butt!
On to the first question, how can you do it…
This one “simple” trick for saving money apartment hunting in San Francisco does work even though it requires some hardcore dedication. This guy did the math, and realized that it would actually save him a ton of money to work in London and live in… Barcelona. The apartment would be much, much nicer, too. It made us wonder if this would work for San Francisco. Many people are tied here because of their jobs, but do you really have to live where your job is and go through the miserable, terrible, unpleasant, stressful process of looking for a San Francisco apartment?
You’ll pay about $3,100 for a one bedroom apartment in the Bay Area, and that’s if you can find one. You’re going to pay lights and other utilities no matter where you live, so we’ll ignore those costs because they’re roughly the same anywhere you live. The average round trip flight from Las Vegas to SFO is around $70 – there’s plenty of low-fare competition, between Virgin America, JetBlue, Frontier, and Southwest. If your employer lets you work four ten-hour days, you’re spending about $1,100 a month on airfare and some pocket change for mass transit from SFO to work.
It’s cheaper to live in Las Vegas overall. From a quality of life standpoint, you’ll have three days off a week instead of two, and you can spend them in Las Vegas enjoying yourself. A ton of people who work in San Francisco already spend at least 90 minutes commuting each way. Flight time from LAS to SFO? 90 minutes. So that’s pretty much a wash, as well. You’d also build up frequent flier miles if you went commercial, so some not insignificant portion of your flights would be free. That makes the equation even more favorable.
From purely a cost standpoint, the numbers work – /u/yourslice crunched the numbers. But is it worth it?
Well, if you’re going to spend 90 minutes commuting, doing so on a plane certainly beats driving in the Bay Area. Not to mention, you may safely assume that it will cost you about five grand a year just to have and maintain a paid off car, San Francisco auto insurance prices being what they are. Consider lost time for maintenance, as well. That’s not even factoring in gas costs for your 90 minute commute every day, which are substantial.
Don’t forget that you get an extra day off because you’re working four ten-hour days to make this work – that actually ends up “buying back” any time lost getting to and from the airports. It’s also fantastic for your mental health.
You can get private charter shuttles between the two cities. The cost is more or less similar, but you save time getting through security, arranging reservations, and dealing with all the other unpleasantness of commercial flight. Sure, you’re getting up earlier every day, but you can also nap on the plane and it’s been proven that naps are good for you. Because you have that extra day available each week, you’re spending more time at home and you’ll have a day off during the week to deal with banks, doctors, and all of the other people who think that bankers hours are still acceptable for any business in 2015.
Anxieties.com referenced the work of Dr. Arnold Barnett of MIT. Note that his data was taken from the years 1975 through 1984, when commercial flight was somewhat less safe and rather less secure than it is today. Each time you get on a commercial flight, your risk of death is about one in seven million. If you flew every single day, you’d have to live for nineteen thousand years to be a victim of a major accident
Compare that to driving in the Bay Area. Or even taking a train, in light of the recent derailments. We’d take the commercial flights over both, to be honest.
But I Want To Buy A House
OK. You can buy a house. In Las Vegas. For less than a third of the cost of renting in San Francisco! If you put 10% down on a $150,000 loan, your payment would be about $900 a month. You’re not buying a home anywhere near San Francisco for that!
The whole thing is a fun thought exercise, but we have yet to meet anyone who has actually tried this. We did hear a few stories from people who did similar things – someone got a new job in Mountain View and had kids in high school in Colorado that he didn’t want to move, for example – but we haven’t been able to confirm any of those stories. Do you know someone with a mega-commute who makes it work and thinks it’s worthwhile? Click here to share it with us!
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