After leaving NYC with my tail between my legs in 2010, unable to find work that paid my $1550-per-month rent and unable to find a cheaper place that wasn't in Queens, I came back to Austin to regroup. After staying with my mother for 3 months (3 months that she made as unpleasant as possible), I was finally, thanks to freelance checks from a publishing company, able to get my own place, back in the 'hood that I lived in before moving to NYC. Only this time in a 400-sq-ft apartment rather than the 800-sq-ft house I lived in from 2000 to 2007 (that I paid $825 monthly for the whole time).
The $545 per month that I paid in 2010 for the Austin apartment has, by 2014, increased to $750. Ads on Craigslist today show it offered at $815.
I now have a perfectly respectable middle-class job as an Editor, making in the 40Ks per year. Monthly gross salary, around $3700. After taxes, retirement system, and the near-$500 taken out of my paycheck to repay student loans (thanks, Dad, for not providing for your child's college despite your constant claims to "superiority"), I have $2400 per month net for everything: rent + all bills.
While living in this now-$750-per-month apartment for 4 years, my overall expenses have been about $1500 per month. Beyond the rent, the expenses have been electric/gas/phone/Internet, groceries, work lunches, beer, cigs, haircuts, etc.
If my ongoing take-home salary is currently $2400 per month, and my expenses (sans rent) are @ $750, then that leaves about $1650 for rent + emergencies/savings/possible car.
I gave my move-out notice at my apartment a week ago. I have to move out by Feb. 2. In the past week, I've done some rudimentary apartment-searching: One-bedroom apartments up north near my work, for @ $850 per month, were small (600-sq-ft or less), grim, and depressing. A garage apartment near campus, in better shape but only 500-sq-ft, was $1200 --- and with a neighbor living below.
I'd thought that once I got a "real" job, that I would then be able to afford a decent place... "Decent" to me meaning mainly that I wouldn't have to share walls, that I'd have more than one room with more than 400-sq feet, that I might have a little outdoor space--say, a balcony or a small yard.
I still have the rest of December, plus all of January, to find a new place. But I'd hoped for something significantly better than what I'd been living in for the past 4 years while I was relying on temp and freelance work. Once I had a real job, I'd hoped for a real place... The market seems to be keeping me in the "student apartment" range. At age 49!
After re-reading the above, the one question in my mind is: How in the world could someone making over $40K a year have to resort to living in shit-hole student apartments? Where am I supposed to go live--San Angelo, Beaumont? But my editing job's not IN San Angelo or Beaumont...