Seeking Out Affordable Housing As A Young Professional

This is a guest post from Paidtwice,  Great topic for generation Y!

One of the perks of being a young professional is that, often times, you aren’t too tied down to a given geographic place. During this transitory time in your life you don’t have family or long-standing career obligations to keep you rooted in a given town. You don’t need to worry about the size of your yard or the quality of the local public schools. You can go and live wherever you’d like – provided, of course, that you can find a job in the first place.

This geographic freedom naturally lends itself to living situations among young professionals that differ from the general population at large. Young professionals are more likely to live in apartments. They are more likely to value location over amenities. And they are more likely to congregate in urban centers that have a high cost of living.  And here’s where an issue emerges: although their needs would indicate otherwise, young professionals often find themselves renting out apartments that are exorbitantly disproportional to their salaries in cost, especially if they hold temporary jobs.

Rather than maximizing their minimal earnings and putting some money away for retirement, this age demographic increasingly finds its expenses eaten up by rent.  How can a young professional avoid this issue and secure more affordable housing? If you’re searching for a place to live, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Get A Roommate

Many young professionals scoff at the idea of getting a roommate. They’re not in college anymore, they tell themselves, meaning that they’re too old and mature for the type of living that a roommate situation offers. But living with a roommate as a young professional can be worlds apart from your undergraduate experience, so long as you find a respectful person. With a roommate, your expenses for rent, utilities, cable, internet, and maintenance can get cut in two. In some cities, where 1 bedroom and studio apartments are at a premium, your savings with a roommate may extend even further.

Be willing to compromise on area

As aforementioned, a key reason that housing can get so expensive for young professionals is that many people who fall into this category live in desirable areas. If you live and work in New York or Washington D.C., for example, you’re likely to pay substantially more for housing than someone who resides in suburban Columbus.  But living in a sought-after city doesn’t mean you need to pay through the roof (New York being a possible exception), because most cities have areas that are desirable and cool, and others that are less so. Being flexible with your search on a micro level – and being willing to venture slightly out of the cooler locales – can translate into substantial housing savings.

Consider buying

The thought of buying a home is a foreign one for most young professionals, many of whom were raised believing that such a purchase should not occur until one is married, has a family, and is ready to settle down. But recent real estate trends have made it cost-efficient to buy rather than rent in many cities. Consequently, it’s good to keep this option in mind: check out a rent vs. own calculator and see if your length of residence and resale potential justify buying a home. If you plan on staying in the same city long-term, there’s a good chance that it will.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind when looking to save money on housing as a young professional. Although your living expenses will surely be lower at this stage in your life than when you have a family, it’s important to remember your proportionate costs and look for savings whenever possible.

This is a guest post by Anna Hicks, you can read more writing at her personal finance blog.

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About Justin B

Justin is the co-owner and grammarly impaired author of My University Money and Young and Thrifty. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

4 Responses to Seeking Out Affordable Housing As A Young Professional

  1. I very strongly disagree on the buying part.
    When you’re a young professional, you want to be flexible and be able to move easily, you also want to be able to move according to your partner’s working location or other factors.
    Renting is cheaper than owning unless there is a great capital appreciation of the house, which is not likely to happen in the future decade, unlike what has happened in the previous one.

    • I agree, but the author is American (hence “recent trends” that have made it less expensive to buy). The advice doesn’t apply to Canadians.

  2. I definitely agree with getting a roommate, as long as it’s someone who’s not difficult to live with. I’ve enjoyed having roommates, since there was never a dull moment.

  3. When I was young and living on my own I always had roommates. It would have been just silly not to.

    I’d argue that living in large urban centers may come with a higher pricetag for rent, but may bring transportation costs down. You’d have to crunch the numbers to see if it’s worth it.

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