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The Eight Sacrifices I Made To Live In The Cheapest Apartment In Seattle ($400 rent per month)

The Eight Sacrifices I Made To Live In The Cheapest Apartment In Seattle ($400 rent per month)

In a previous article, I wrote about how I moved to Seattle from New York and found an apartment where I’m only paying $400 a month in rent, smack dab in the middle of all the action of Seattle, which is apparently a “high cost of living” (HCOL) city.

Well, choosing this apartment wasn’t without making some monetary, mental, and physical “sacrifices.”

And I say “sacrifices” with quotation marks because I’m at the point of my minimalist journey where they don’t really feel like sacrifices.


Read some articles from my minimalism journey: 

Why I Sleep On A Yoga Mat – Minimalism Life

How Minimalism Helped Me Love My Mom More

Why I KonMari My Facebook Friends To Spark Joy


 

The Entire Studio Apartment

sacrifices in the form of small studio apartment picture showing my roommate in the middle of the room on the floor
A fragmented look at entire our studio apartment.

After reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo and implementing the KonMari method into my lifestyle, I’ve learned to let go of a lot of material things.

This flowed into the behaviors and the life choices I’ve made now that I don’t have as much stuff.

Read: How To KonMari Your Money in 5 Simple Steps – Make your Finances Spark Joy

For example, I sooooo wanted the 600 square foot, $1350/month, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with a view of the lake, a walk-in closet, and a kitchen.

I had money saved up from working and investing the past 4 years while on the financial independence track that I could have afforded the cost for the 6 month lease.

Instead, I opted for the smaller, 250 square foot studio apartment with a kitchenette, super small closet, and a sink so small, that if it were full of water and I were to pass out drunk facedown, I wouldn’t even drown in it.

sacrifices in the form of a small closet in our small studio apartment picture
This is the small closet in our studio.

Why Did I Opt For This Smaller Apartment?

Because I knew I wasn’t going to be spending much time in it.

And I didn’t have many material possessions to warrant such a space.

I was going to spend most of my time doing business around Seattle, meeting people, eating out, etc.

I would literally only use my apartment to sleep in.

So it made sense.

Also, $400/month plus $50/month in utilities = $450 split over 30 days = $15 a night.

That’s cheaper than the $35 per night I was paying to live in the cheapest Airbnb in Seattle.

But I ramble.

The Sacrifices

Without further adieu, here are some of the “sacrifices” I made to live in one of the cheapest apartments in Seattle (in no particular order).

1) Share Bathroom With The Whole Building

Here’s a pictures of one of the shared bathroom spaces.

sacrifices in the form of a small bathroom picture showing the bathroom

It’s the nicest, newly renovated bathroom in the building.

I have to share bathrooms with everyone in the building.

On each floor there are 4 studio apartments who share these bathrooms.

The fancier apartments have their own bathroom.

4 units per floor times 5 floors is about 20 units who could use the bathrooms at anytime.

Luckily there is one toilet and one shower per floor, and I have never had a problem regardless of the time of day.

All of the bathrooms are old and kind of disgusting, with only 2 of them newly renovated.

Like, they are so old, they don’t even have sinks to wash hands after you poop.

Instead, they have a dispenser for Purell hand sanitizer.

I basically only shower in the remodeled ones because the old ones are completely rusted over and have permanent dirty stains in them.

One Caveat

A problem with sharing bathrooms with strangers like a hostel or college dorm floor is that everyone has different cleanliness standards and habits.

Some days, I would find blood stains or random pubic/butt hairs on the toilet seats and wonder like: who is scratching their butt so vigorously to deposit this many butt hairs on the toilet seat AND NOT WIPE IT OFF?!

Like how inconsiderate 😤.

Luckily it doesn’t happen often.

And luckily everyone has different shower times so finding an open bathroom is not a problem.

One bonus is they hire cleaners to clean the bathrooms twice a week.

Another bonus is there’s running hot water in the showers.

Hey, gotta enjoy the little things on the road to financial independence 🤷🏼‍♂️😆.

Sharing the showers and toilets with strangers is not a sacrifice because I did it the first two months in Seattle in hostels and Airbnb.

So the idea of sharing these gross bathrooms is nothing new and I got over it a while ago.

2) Smaller Kitchen

Check out the size of my stove.

sacrifices in the form of a small kitchenette picture showing the stove

It’s a small kitchenette that can barely fit two pans at the same time.

Cooking can sometimes be challenging if I want to both boil AND sauté something at the same time.

The Sink Is Small.

sacrifices in the form of a small sink picture of my cluttered sink with some pots and cutting board

If I have a bunch of dirty dishes, I wash and dry them one by one because there’s no room for a drying rack.

A drying rack would help me save time by letting stuff air dry instead of me wiping them.

I have yet to apply my college degree to figure out a smarter way to do this but entropy should kick in at some point and a way will appear 😂

Because there are no kitchen counters, I have no place to put my microwave and microwave oven.

So far, we’ve been stacking them on top of the stove and moving them down whenever we need to use the stove to cook eggs.

[Update 8/26/18] my roomate put both of them on the floor. So now I’ll just microwave stuff on the floor…😆

not really sacrifices but a picture showing my microwave and microwave oven on the floor on top of each other because we don't have space for them

Other than that, I’ve been microwaving dinosaur chicken nuggets to eat with rice and lettuce.

By doing this, I get protein, vegetable fibers, and carbs in the morning.

A balanced meal for a balanced life.

‘Cause, you know. He was all about that balance…

Also, dino chicken nuggets made in Canada are some of the healthiest chicken nuggets I’ve seen because of lack of filler and artificial ingredients etc.

It’s basically chicken, spices, and breading lol.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 10.24.02 PM
This is how it looks. Made in Canada so you know it must be good.

The small kitchen is barely a sacrifice because I eat simple, the bare necessities, so I just let go notions of cooking gourmet meals for the remainder of my lease until I move into an apartment with maybe a bigger counter and stove, etc.

*Bear necessities

Bonus: the refrigerator is full size so my roommate and I can have enough space for all of our frozen pizza, frozen dumplings, frozen chicken nuggets, milk, and beer.

3) No Kitchen Cabinets

Because we don’t have any kitchen cabinets to store plates, pots, pans, glasses, and utensils, we got two bookshelves for free from friends who were going to throw them out anyways.

Don’t be afraid to ask around!

Each bookshelf would’ve cost around $20-40 each from Target or IKEA.

So use social media to your advantage and ask around!

sacrifices because we didn't have kitchen cabinets so we asked around for bookshelves. picture showing shoes and plates on bookshelves

Instead of putting books on them, we put our shoes and everything kitchen related.

Basically, don’t being afraid to repurpose old things to fit different needs from what they were originally intended.

Get creative! Think outside the box 🙂

Dealing with no kitchen cabinets is barely a sacrifice because we have enough floor space to accommodate bookshelves for our kitchen stuff.

4) Old Moldy Carpet

The carpet that covers the entire lobby floor is probably like 30-50 years old and smells moldy.

Whereas newer buildings have wooden, vinyl, or tile flooring.

Also, because Seattle has wet weather like half the year, people march their wet shoes into the building and I guess the building manager never dehumidifies the moisture out of the carpet.

So the dampness just stays there and you can see these, what I call, “moisture bugs” in the air that only hang around damp areas.

I got over the moldy carpets in about a day because I’m only in the lobby for a minute while checking my mail.

If I were standing on this old, moldy, smelly carpet for tens of minutes or hours at a time, then it would be something to reconsider.

But overall, not a sacrifice or ordeal to suffer through.

5) No Cool Amenities

And here is where I sound like a jealous entitled millennial for a hot second.

My friends who work for Amazon, Microsoft, and other companies, for $1100-$1800 a month, live in brand new apartments built within the last year or two (like a lot of new corporate offices and apartments in Seattle).

Their amenities include rooftop grills, bonfire pits, sunbathing chairs, decks, amazing views of Mount Ranier, and sunsets over Elliot Bay or Lake Union.

But wait, there’s more!

These buildings have free fitness centers open 24/7.

So you don’t have to pay $100 a month for any of the gyms around Seattle.

Not to mention, there are special package lockers inside the lobbies so your packages stay safe when they’re delivered.

You just enter the code they email you when your package arrives inside your apartment lobby.

For my old apartment, they just leave your packages in the shared mailroom where anyone can see it.

Or, if they’re feeling nice, they put it in front of our door.

It’s not really a sacrifice for me to not have these amenities because I just go on my friends’ rooftops.

And I try not to order anything of much value, in case someone else takes it.

Plus I’m a member of a social club that has a gym and coworking space for $69 a month, and a dock on the lake so I can sunbathe out there and swim.

So I jerryrigged a solution for working out and entrepreneur co-working that still has me paying cheaper than my friends in regards to living in Seattle.

Me

  • Rent = $400
  • Utilities: $50
  • Groceries and eating out = $500
  • Social Clubs = $170
  • Unlimited Metro Card = $100
  • Ride Shares (Uber, Lyft) = $200

Total: $1420

That’s roughly the average my friends pay just for rent.

Then you factor in their transportation, eating, going out, groceries, and utilities etc. and they probably average close to $2,000 a month.

This $600 difference can be invested toward reaching financial independence faster.

Or to pay down debt.

The only struggle is coordinating with my friends to use their rooftops.

Because they have to be present when we’re chilling up there, I’m at the whim of when they want to hang out.

So if it’s a nice beautiful sunny day in Seattle and what I would really want to do is soak up sunshine on a rooftop with WiFi getting work done, instead I might have to opt for an indoor coworking space because they have WiFi and my apartment does not.

I gave up having WiFi in my apartment to save the $60 a month.

I’m able to bum off Starbucks WiFi and the coworking spaces when I need to.

[Update: 8/27/18] Luckily I just joined another social club that has wifi and a dock on the water, so I’m able to sunbathe and work on my laptop at the same time now! Woo hoo!

And by the way, NO SUN GLARE!

I thought the glare would be bad outside but I just sit facing the sun and BA BLAM!

La probleme est résolu (the problem is solved).

sacrifices not made. a picture showing me typing my blog post on the dock in the sunset

Two amenities we do have are 20-year-old washers and dryers in the dank basement, and an elevator from the go-go era of the 1920’s Jazz age.

The building was built in 1908, before both World Wars.

6) No Air Conditioning Or Central A/C

Not having air condition during the hot part of Seattle is crazy because when it’s 85 degrees outside, my south facing apartment gets sunshine all day and the room feels way hotter.

Not to mention because the carpet in our room is around 20-30 years old and has the etched in smells of marijuana and dog drool from the previous tenant, the hot humidity mixed with sunshine creates this nauseating environment.

2 reasons why this heat and smell issue isn’t really a problem.

1) I spend most of my day outside at coworking spaces anyways.

I don’t have to be home during the hottest part of the day.

Not to mention, by being out, I get to socialize with other entrepreneurs. This allows us to bounce ideas off each other for synergistic ideation.

I enjoy this sort of lifestyle more than staying home all day hustling by myself.

Outgoing Introvert over here 🙂

2) Luckily at night the smell and heat die down (barely) and I bought a cheap enough $20 small fan on Amazon that helps keep the room decently cool at night.

Or at least, it helps evaporate the sweat off of me at night thus making me feel cooler 😂

[Update 8/25/18] A new problem that arose since typing this post is Seattle is dealing with smoke particulates from the wildfires burning in British Columbia.

This is such a problem that they recommend everyone stay indoors if they don’t need to come out, because the air is so harmful to breathe.

[Update 8/27/18] It rained the other day and all the particulates got washed down the drain and the sun came out.

The air is so fresh, the skies are blue, and I imagine amazing future blue skies for my future children and how amazing the world is going to be when they grow up in it.

My friends in the newer apartments all have central A/C so they can keep their windows closed.

So by not having an HVAC or A/C unit with air filters in the apartment, what I’m actually sacrificing is my respiratory health.

Again, this is why I’m lucky to have coworking spaces to work at during the day because they have filtered air.

I’m sacrificing being able to breathe fresh air during the day by living in this cheap apartment.

This is the one sacrifice that makes me often ask, “Did I make the right choice?”

When I factor in the other alternative of paying $1300 or more for a nicer space, the answer isn’t quite certain.

7) We Sleep On The Floor Asian-Style

Luckily, my roommate is also okay with sleeping on the carpeted floor on a blanket Asian-style.

This way, we don’t have a bunk bed taking up space the whole day. #minimalismlife

sacrifices that aren't sacrifices. A picture showing me roommate's and my bed setting for sleeping not he floor.
His bed on the left, my bed on the right. We then roll it up every morning.

This isn’t much of a sacrifice because when my girlfriend and I backpacked Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, we got acquainted really well with sleeping on floors 😆

Which was why when I came back to America, I actually threw out my bed and slept on a yoga mat for a month, then got rid of the yoga mat and slept on the floor for many months after that.

Read: Why I Sleep On A Yoga Mat – Minimalism Life

8) Lack of Privacy

Because I have a roommate, I have to be more considerate of another person in the room.

The reason why this isn’t much of a sacrifice is because I literally had been living the past month in hostel bunk beds in a room with 5 other people or in an Airbnb where 20 people share one bathroom.

Living like this leading up to moving into the apartment definitely helped me become more comfortable with the aspects of sharing a space with a roommate.

Why?

Because I didn’t have the stereotypical college experience of living with roommates.

I commuted from home to save money. And I don’t regret it because it allowed me to graduate from college debt-free.

That’s why the lack of privacy living in a 250 square foot space with my roomate is not a sacrifice to me.

Plus, because I’m minimalist and everything I own fits in one duffel bag, the floor is mainly clear of clutter.

This lets us co-habitate in the space a little easier.

minimalism life. A duffel bag showing my entire clothing. A week's worth of clothes.
All I own, a week’s worth of clothes. Includes: shirts, shorts, pants, socks, underwear.

In Conclusion

There you have it folks.

The “sacrifices” I made to pay the cheapest rent to live in the liveliest neighborhood in Seattle.

Ever since adopting a more KonMari minimalist perspective with how I interact with my things, it’s since flowed into how I live overall.

It allowed me to be at peace with most things, like the apartment itself, lack of personal space, privacy, etc.

This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and your experience may differ.

The message I want to get across is that it helps to be flexible on the road to financial independence.

And whether things are “sacrifices” or not depends on your viewpoint and frame of mind.

Thank you for reading, I wish you the best of luck on your journey!


P.S. because you made it this far, while searching for “Thanos balance” GIF I saw this one on “balance” and wanted to share it with you because this is very impressive lol. I can’t even balance on that thing regularly, let alone do this…


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Sacrifices Pinterest graphic showing my studio apartment


 

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I’d have to say the one dealbreaker for me would be the shared bathroom. I lived in a sorority in college though, and this more or less doesn’t seem that different as far as privacy etc. Though you could probably get that $400 price tag living in a shared house, yeah?

    1. Haha hi Angela! Idk if it’s representative of the tech scene in general in Seattle but the majority of the people I’ve seen throughout the apartment complex are male as well. Which might indicate that other females also don’t like that aspect of the shared bathrooms. From what I noticed, they pay the extra for the corner bedrooms with private bathrooms lol. And I tried looking on Craigslist for bedrooms shared houses and it’s also like $1300 for a bedroom in a shared house with other professionals my age. Orrrrrr $1000 a month for a bedroom in a shared house but like wayyyy south in West Seattle 😅

      1. Haha! Now you have data to raise the rent on your roommate? Just a couple hundred bucks 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh Jack, I don’t think I could do this! I’ve been completely spoiled and have never even lived with roommates let alone having to share a bathroom with strangers. I went from living at home with my parents to living with my boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment. The savings is huge and will get you to your goals so much faster so good on you being able to pull that off!

    1. Haha thank you for your comment, Sarah! Though now I’m contemplating that maybe having a roommate wasn’t the best decision based on roommate differences in lifestyles. Olivia from Birdsofafire.com mentioned that maybe the extra $400 would be worth it for peace of mind. Luxe from Theluxestrategist.com mentioned that it’s one of those sacrifices we make on route to FI and the money saved is worth it lol. Agh! No right or wrong answer 😂

  3. You know I am pro-roommate when young and single all the way, but I don’t think I could share a room with a total stranger! I’ve done it with my best friend before to save money, though, and it was totally fine.

    But kudos to you for recognizing the long-game in doing this. I’m curious about your savings rate now!

    1. Haha it was the difference between $800 rent plus $100 utilities by myself = $900/month for 6 months = $5400.

      Split would be $2200 total for rent and utilities to live in Seattle for 6 months (not including food and transportation).

      So I guess when you boil it down, was it worth the mental anguish and sacrifices to save $2200? Lol. Olivia from birdsofafire would say otherwise.

      Though long game, $2200 reinvested with compound interest could potentially be worth millions in a hundred years. So I guess it’s worth it lol 😂

  4. This living situation is seriously my worst nightmare!!! I have 3 bds, 2.5 baths to share with just me and my husband, and that feels like a struggle haha. I had roommates all through college, so that kind of killed it for me. I wish I didn’t love space and privacy so much though, that rent price is crazy good!!!

    1. Haha aw Steph it’s all good. It’s not a bad thing to love space and privacy, I love those too! Lol. I just feel like based on different socioeconomic situations and opportunities, you and your husband were able to get that house with the bedrooms and bathrooms! Lol. Whereas I’m technically living by myself trying to find a decent rent to save more money for now. Who knows what the future holds?! 🙂

  5. Oh my, I somehow didn’t see this in my feed last month. You clearly know my thoughts on it, but hey, if you’re happy, then you’re happy!

    I used to live in a 1 bedroom flex (which means we cut the giant living room into a living room + bedroom so it was actually a true living room). Then we moved to a true 2 bed with one bedroom being a home office. It makes me mentally much happier, and costs the same as the 1b w giant living room.

    I need bright colors and cleanliness to be happy I feel, so I must be wired differently haha.

    1. Lol that’s very nice to hear Olivia! I’m leaning that way too now. One room that’s devoted completely to office work, study, etc. is great. That mental separation between having a desk in your bedroom or living room versus having a completely dedicated room to getting work done is 👌 lol Thank you for stopping by!

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