Last Updated on December 3, 2022 by Lil Ginge
I loved my apartment in sunny South Florida. A stone’s throw away from plenty of shopping in swanky Boca Raton and a short 25-minute car hop to the Las Olas strip in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The location was perfect for me.
I lived literally next door to a Walmart serving all my needs at 6 am in the morning (yes, I shop at 6 AM like a psychopath). Twenty minutes from the beach, where I love to walk along the shoreline during warm and glowing early morning sunrises. And less than an hour from the hot urban excitement of Wynwood Miami – at least when the traffic on the way wasn’t in nightmare beast mode.
My apartment complex was also perfect for me. It had most of the amenities, bells, and whistles that a single guy in a tropical climate could want. A resort-style swimming pool complete with cabanas and downtempo music piped over the sound system. A luxurious clubhouse with work, party, and movie-watching spaces. Even an adorable gym boasting Pelotons for the local stationary bike ridey cult members. And a boxing ring with a punching bag to make me feel like Rocky. Okay, to make me feel like I was watching other people be Rocky.
My apartment itself, over 800 square feet, felt like it had endless space to me as a single individual. It had plenty of room for nervous pacing – a huge hobby of mine as an anxious person – a full kitchen with dishwasher, in-apartment laundry, and even a balcony overlooking the wildlife preserve next door. It was true Florida dream living.
There was only one problem: my rent was making me feel flat-broke.
Why My Luxury Apartment Was Making Me Feel Broke
I loved all the beauty, all the comforts, all the hominess of home. But I hated the feeling of having less money than an investment banking intern after a few nights of doing cocaine with a woman named “Lapdance Lacey”.
I could pay my rent month to month based on my salary. And even do so without starving. But I never had anything left over. And sometimes even had to take on some credit card debt. Which is basically the worst kind of debt to have short of a payday loan or a lender from your local shark
“Tony Two Times”.
It didn’t feel good. In fact, it felt overwhelming to always be paycheck to paycheck. Never gaining any ground. Never getting closer to reaching my short or long-term financial goals.
So I did the unthinkable: I broke my lease early. I packed up. And I moved out. Bye Felicia.
From Luxury Rent To Not So Luxury Airbnb
I left behind all the luxury and the comforts and the hominess. And I started out on a new adventure. One that may have reduced my number of daily creature comforts. But one that definitely made me much more flush with daily cash.
So where did I go, you ask? Right now, I am – likely temporarily – embracing the “nomad” experience. I am hopping from monthly Airbnb to Airbnb, keeping a roof over my head at all times. But often not the same roof.
It feels a little crazy, especially as a forty-year-old single person. The houses and apartments I stay in are sometimes dark and dingy. The bedrooms can be sizeable or somewhat cramped. I have “Airbnbmates” – strangers who I quietly encounter in the hallways or coming down the staircase. We give each other smiles or nods, or a few words of idle talk about the frigid air of upstate New York.
My only completely private space is my bedroom – where I go to revel in my introverted silence.
It’s totally weird.
But ask me if regrets, I have a few? NOPE. Not on your life. Not yet, anyway. Every week that I don’t have a zero or negative cash flow, I praise the skies like a teenager at Jesus Camp. That I finally found (with a little help from my friends) the courage to break my lease and let myself loose.
Even without the creature comforts. Even with the cramped living spaces. With the torn couch fabrics and lightly stained chocolate brown carpets of my present living situation(s).
Digital Nomading Towards A Better Financial Future
This new nomadic lifestyle – I am now the proverbial “digital nomad” if you will – has helped me cut my rent by a whopping 50%. Okay, that’s a lie. It’s by 47.22% if we’re really being honest. And my AirBNB rent can fluctuate from month to month. But I have a hard cap that I am not willing to go above, which keeps me at 25% of my monthly net income or below.
I’ve already been able to pay off the majority of expenses I accrued from breaking the lease and the move itself. Those include packing up and storing the furniture and items I don’t currently need. When I now look at my bank account after I get paid, I want to cry tears of joy like a Kardashian who found the perfect Instagram photo location.
After I get paid and pay my Airbnb rent, I now still have enough money to cover the other 75% of my expenses. And pay off my small debts. Hell, I may even be able to start saving some actual money for the future, or something that maybe resembles retirement someday.
Of course, ditching my sweet digs and jumping into the Airbnb couchsurfing life hasn’t solved all of my financial problems. Not even close. After all, housing isn’t my only expense. I do other things besides take shelter. Like eating (often too much). And wearing clothes (at least in public).
But like Batman Beginning by arresting Gotham City’s top mafia boss, it’s a start. I took that scary, risky, possibly-faily first step. But I haven’t failed yet. I still might. I’m pretty okay with that now. (Thanks, life coach!).
Cutting My Rent Expense Is Huge
After all, rent is my biggest monthly expense. Or, at least, it was. So if I were going to make a significant financial impact by cutting down my monthly expenses, it was the pretty logical place to start. I’ve been following the FIRE movement quite a bit. Consuming books and podcasts and blog posts I mean. FIRE stands for Financial Independence and Retire Early.
I’m not so interested in RE right now, but the FI part sounds amazing. Anyway, the FI movement would approve of me literally halving my rent in one go. As an unfortunate approval-seeker in general – I am working on that – my belief in the FIRE movement’s tacit agreement with this move pleases me.
I love the feeling that my monthly rent isn’t chasing me like a giant boulder chasing Indiana Jones. Like I can financially breathe without feeling as if there’s an anvil sitting on my chest (are there still anvils?) I love not starting so behind the financial eight ball on the first of every month. I think Bone Thugs and Harmony would also approve.
My other major expenses still exist. I spend way too much on food, which probably also explains my current weight. I am probably going to have to spend $600 for an auto repair this weekend. But hey, I might actually be able to restock my emergency fund now.
This isn’t the end of my expense-cutting journey. It’s just the beginning. But I had to start somewhere. I’m sure glad I did.