In her post today, Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks blogged about the micro-lofts that are being built in the Vancouver downtown core. Apparently, these new 270 square-foot bachelor apartments are going to be rented out for about $600-750/month. While the price tag may seem expensive at first glance, the premium price comes with an underrated advantage: location.

Setting up tent in the downtown core of any big city can save you lots of money, even if the cost of housing is at a premium. First, if you live close to where you work, you can virtually eliminate expenses such as transportation (Car, insurance, gas, repairs, etc.). So while you may be paying $600 or so per month for the advantage of living close to work, play and a plethora of other amenities and activities, you can save almost the entire cost of transportation simply by being choosy about where you live. You know what they say - location, location, location.

I myself have chosen to live close to school. While my housemate and I pay $1200 per month for our apartment ($600 each), we save on the following:

  • utilities included - a $100/month value (based on what I paid last year)
  • free parking (we get one free parking spot) - an $80-100/month value based on the going rate in the neighbourhood.
  • transportation (we're a 7 minute walk from the law school) - a $100+/month value
  • cable and internet at half the price (as students living on campus, we qualify for the student rate from our local cable and internet service provider) - a $30/month value split in half - $15
  • food (the fact that we're a 7-min walk to campus means that we can score free food whenever the law school has visiting guest speakers for lunch or dinner) - $50/month savings
  • gym pass (again, since the school's gym has just been renovated, a $30-million project, we score access to brand new facilities that include a newly built Booster Juice store, all for the price of nil). - $50/month savings

Cost of housing: $600/month
Savings: $395-415/month

Clearly, there is more to be factored in than just the price tag when shopping for a new place. There is always room to negotiate extras if the landlord won't come down on the dollar price. All you need is the capacity to think outside the box a little. In our case, we asked for a rent-freeze in advance because we knew we'd be around for a full two years. We got the stability of knowing our rent wouldn't increase, and the landlord has reason to believe he won't have to go hunting for a new tenant at year's end. That's what I call mutually beneficial.
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