5 Things I Hate About Renting

I have rented all my life. I have gone through phases where I thought it was time to buy some ol’ house so I could be like my friends. But then I thought better of it. The idea of $400k mortgage doesn’t sit well with me at all – as you have probably gathered from other posts on this blog. And now, through inspiration, I have realised there is a way around that – I don’t need nor want a fancy house in the inner suburbs, where I can host yuppie soirees for people I don’t really like. Nope, I have my sight set on something much better than that, my tiny house in the country.

Being a renter I know all the cons of renting. The pros exist but are fewer. So, for a bit of fun, I thought I’d share the top 5 things I hate strongly dislikes about renting.

The houses. A lot of houses are bought with the sole purpose of being rented out. Some are rented out as is and others are renovated beforehand, like the place I currently live in. You can tell it has been renovated for the sake of an investment – so many features haven’t been thought through, it’s almost as though the owner forgot that people are actually going to be functioning in the house. Take my bathroom tiles for example – never have I experienced a slipperier tile. Not ideal for a bathroom, no? You know, with the water and the walking and the feet? The windows in this place may as well not even be there. They provide no insulation against the weather or noise. I can hear conversations on the footpath outside as clearly inside as I could if I were on the other side of the wall.

I guess I am pretty fortunate to live in a place that is reasonably safe and well presented. Not so, for some of my friends. The houses they call home should be condemned. But through apathy and a slight fear of being homeless they don’t raise things as concerns. Property managers and landlords take advantage of this.

Lazy property managers. Ceiling light, exposed wires. Quite a hazard? 3 months and counting to have it repaired. But rest assured, the property manager is “working at it as hard as they can”. Yeah right.

Property managers are like temping agencies. They demand huge fees and once they have assigned the temp, or in this case tenants, they are rarely seen again. Oh, other than at their quarterly inspection. But they are usually not seen then – they come when you’re at work and leave a condescending piece of paper on the kitchen bench.

Arbitrary rules. “No, you cannot put a raised garden bed on the lawn! However, please make sure you maintain the lawn that we planted – water it, fertilise it, waste your time and money on it…”

Taking $16k a year and putting it in the bin. This is a bit of an exaggeration, I know. For that money I am getting a pretty decent roof over my head. However, at the end of the day I have nothing to show for it. This is the obvious downer for most renters and the reason why they buy – they want to feel as though they own the place in which they live. Even if they won’t for many many decades, and even if they have to pay for the value of their house twice – if you take into account interest rates.

The anxiety. The way property managers make you feel is terrible. Those quarterly inspections. Where they, common people themselves, come into your home and critique the way you live. If only they were there to inspect wear and tear on the place. Oh no, I have heard horror stories about them critiquing the way in which the floor was vacuumed and the like. I’d love to see my property managers house. She looks like the type where the carpet in front of the couch would be covered in chip crumbs.

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The Costs of Buying Lunch

Money. You would be forgiven for thinking that I am obsessed with the stuff, reading back over my posts. I’m not obsessed – well not in the usual way people might be obsessed with it – but extremely fascinated by it. I’m fascinated by the sacrifices people make to earn it, the frivolity with which they spend it, and the single-minded passion with which out societies look upon it; as though it is god and without it everything would go to ruin.

I was thinking about it today – as I often do – and I realised how desensitised I have become. I buy lunch most days and sometimes a coffee. I spend, on average, $11 per day. That’s $55 per week, $2860 per year. That’s a lot of money. In the scheme of what I earn, it really isn’t, but in the scheme of what else it could be spent on, it very much is. I have budgeted around $2000 for my solar system in my Desirable World. A very tangible way of analysing my spending habits is considering this.

Why do I buy lunch? Well, my workplace doesn’t really have a comfortable, quiet lunch area. People tend to eat lunch at their desks or in the loud and sterile kitchen. At lunch time I like my own space, I like to break away and be left with my thoughts. There is nowhere I can do that here. Nor outside. I work in an industrial estate and there is a shortage of pleasant outdoor spaces. A café or snack bar is the closest place I have to where I would like to spend my lunch break. So I spend it there. And I buy lunch. Considering the amount I could be saving and what it could do for me, I think I will make the sacrifice and will put up with my surroundings. Hey, it allows me to get to my savings target quicker and to transition into my Desirable World sooner. I think the sacrifices will be worth it.

The Costs of Living in This World and my Desired World – Part 1

The monetary cost of living a middle-class existence in a middle-class world is high. There are expectations, temptations and unavoidable facts. In this post I shall share with you what it costs me to live in This World and what I have budgeted it will cost in my Desired World. As I live with one other person some of the This World costs, such as rent, are listed as my half of the overall cost. All costs unless otherwise stated as per month.

Cost of Living: This World

Rent – I live in an inner-suburb apartment. The area is safe and quiet and comprises mostly middle-class families – with the odd couch-out-the-front-along-with-hundreds-empty-beer bottles share house for good measure. The building is old but the inside has been recently renovated to a high standard and there is a small courtyard with a neat patch of lawn out back. Cost: $600 per month.

Food – I do two shops per week. One at the supermarket for the sort of things that you can really only buy at a supermarket. And one at the farmers market for fresh produce. I eat a mostly vegetarian diet. Cost: $300 per month.

Water – Fortunately, I don’t pay for the water in this building. Cost: Nil.

Electricity – I am mindful of electricity consumption and try to be as efficient as possible. However, when it is freezing cold or boiling hot, the split-system air conditioner gets a work our. Cost: $50 per month.

Gas – This house isn’t hooked up to mains gas. Everything, including the power-hungry oversized hot water service use electricity. Cost: Nil.

Internet – ADSL. I am on a 150GB plan with Internode. Cost: $30 per month.

Phone – Telstra mobile plan with a large data pack. It is used mostly for business so I deduct the majority of the cost as a business expense. Cost: $100 per month.

Debts – Thankfully I have finally gotten myself together and have almost paid down the debt I accumulated as a financially irresponsible 20-something. I’m about $7k short and that should take me another 3 or so months to pay down. Then I am debt free! Cost: $700 per month (which will soon increase in order to reduce interest and pay it off).

Entertainment – Most of my hobbies are free – reading, writing, cycling, hiking; that sort of thing. I occasionally go and see a movie or go rock climbing. Cost: $200 per month.

Medical – I’m pretty healthy and rarely need to buy medicine. Occasionally I will buy a packet of aspirin or penicillin if I am unlucky enough to come down with sinusitis. Cost: $5 per month.

Booze – Due to the sort of people I mix with I find myself spending too much on wine. I am happy with a good, 2 litre cask but that’s a social faux pas. I tend to spend around $15-$20 on a bottle – of which I can taste the different, to be sure – when around these people. Cost: $300 per month. (Yeah, I know.)

Eating Out – I may eat out for dinner one a week – usually Asian or a pub meal. I buy my work lunch and I get takeout once a week. (Not good, I know.) Cost: $400 per month.

Transportation – I catch public transport maybe twice per week and the odd cab. Cost: $50 per month.

Emergencies – I don’t really have an emergency slush fund but do maintain a healthy savings account which can be accessed in an emergency necessary. I try to keep a couple of thousand in my accessible savings at all times. Cost: Nil.

Gifts – I’m not much of a gifter. Cost: $10 per month.

Holidays – Again, I don’t save for the purpose of holidays. If I wish to take one – which I haven’t for a long time – I will dip into savings. All my loose change goes into a jar for this purpose too. Cost: Nil.

Total – Approximately $33,000

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will be published in the next couple of days.