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Old 06-20-2012, 12:20 PM
 
19 posts, read 27,159 times
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I am a recent college graduate working in Crystal City making $40k/yr. I am currently commuting from my parents' house in Howard County, MD. However, I will not be able to do this much longer as it is an hour and a half commute on average. Is there an amount people recommend for a maximum rent expense compared to your salary? Also, given the price restrictions I face, what areas should I be looking at to find a place in a nice area of NOVA or DC? Obviously I don't have the money to live in the heart of DC but I want to avoid areas that are "undesirable" to live in. Thanks for any help.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:35 PM
 
43 posts, read 78,593 times
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Originally Posted by johnadamson View Post
I am a recent college graduate working in Crystal City making $40k/yr. I am currently commuting from my parents' house in Howard County, MD. However, I will not be able to do this much longer as it is an hour and a half commute on average. Is there an amount people recommend for a maximum rent expense compared to your salary? Also, given the price restrictions I face, what areas should I be looking at to find a place in a nice area of NOVA or DC? Obviously I don't have the money to live in the heart of DC but I want to avoid areas that are "undesirable" to live in. Thanks for any help.
Unfortunately you'd be hard pressed to afford your own place in the area- Even a studio apartment in Pentagon City is going to be $1500/month which is beyond the recommendation of 30% of your salary. Your best bet is to find a roommate.

If you currently have a car I'd highly recommend getting rid of it- Working/Living in that area right next to the Metro it's an unnecessary luxury. Getting rid of it and the associated costs will free up a lot of money for housing. I had a car when I lived in Pentagon City and used it so infrequently I would forget exactly where it was parked.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:43 PM
 
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I have no problems living with someone. Actually, I figured I would not be able to afford living without a roommate. Unfortunately, I just signed a 5 year contract for a car so getting rid of it is out the question. I'm paying $430/month for the car payment and insurance combined. Regarding the recommended 30% of monthly salary, is that gross or net income?
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:40 PM
 
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That's typcially gross, meaning that you'd want to keep your total housing expenses (rent plus utilities) to $1000 per month or so. That's sort of a rule-of-thumb yellow caution light, and a lot of young people do end up breaking it, but as you approach 40%, you are likely to start seeing rather serious financial strains, while anything near 50% is a region of crash-and-burn style unsustainableness.

Since 13% of your gross is already accounted for by the car, you have extra incentive to move in to a one or more roommates situation. This is extremely common. Craig's List or the DC City Paper should have many listings of such situations wanted and available. You may find that you need to interview for open spaces in say a 4-person rowhouse in very much the same manner as you interview for a job. Your car can be a big help here. Many potential roomies will not have one. Noting that you do and would not object to driving it around for house as well as personal purposes could work out be a very attractive line on your roommate resumé.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,565 posts, read 33,282,476 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnadamson View Post
I am a recent college graduate working in Crystal City making $40k/yr. I am currently commuting from my parents' house in Howard County, MD. However, I will not be able to do this much longer as it is an hour and a half commute on average. Is there an amount people recommend for a maximum rent expense compared to your salary? Also, given the price restrictions I face, what areas should I be looking at to find a place in a nice area of NOVA or DC? Obviously I don't have the money to live in the heart of DC but I want to avoid areas that are "undesirable" to live in. Thanks for any help.
I'm also a fellow college grad who will be making $35k a year working in Arlington (VA Square and Ballston). Roommates are the way to go definitely. I have multiple roommate inquiries I'm checking out in my visit this weekend most either on the metro line or very close to both Ballston and VA Square bus ride wise since my new job offers metro reimbursement. With my budget, I'd try to keep it under $1k for everything.

On the VA side, there are not really any areas like Southeast DC, Afghanistan, or even West End Louisville that are total no go zones. However most in NoVA do not like Culmore, some of Bailey's Crossroads, Rt. 1 South of the Capital Beltway, Arlandria.

And I feel you on the commute. I was living with my mother near Ft. Knox and drove 42 miles back and forth to my job in Louisville. I paid out my a&% in gas. Thankfully I found a cheap older apt near my job and getting an extra 70 minutes a day from cutting your commute does great things for you.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:59 PM
 
10,596 posts, read 12,086,197 times
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My friend's daughter moved to Clarendon with her first job. This was about 2 years ago and she made $45,000/yr. She took the smaller bedroom of a 2 bdrm apt. She paid about $850.00 per month. A parking spot came free. She kept the same car she'd been driving since high school so no car payment there and she had no student loan debt. If she had had a car payment, she would not have been able to do it. In many other ways she is also a very frugal person. Doesn't eat out, cooks her own simple meals and doesn't spend a lot of money partying.

I'm thinking that with the car payment, you are either going to have to find a place that is much less than $800 per month for your share OR you are going to have to increase your income. She managed it on $45,000 but she was just getting by.
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:14 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,313,751 times
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Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
On the VA side, there are not really any areas like Southeast DC, Afghanistan, or even West End Louisville that are total no go zones.
You're aware that Nationals Park is in Southeast DC? You're aware that in addition to the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and Folger Theater, the Navy Yard, Barracks Row, and Eastern Market are all also in Southeast DC?. You're aware that many of the tiny townhouses there built long ago for people who must have been no more than 5'8" tall sell today for $2 million and up? As a "total no go zone" Southeast DC is a complete failure. Ask any of the yuppies and upscale families who live there.
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,565 posts, read 33,282,476 times
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Originally Posted by saganista View Post
You're aware that Nationals Park is in Southeast DC? You're aware that in addition to the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and Folger Theater, the Navy Yard, Barracks Row, and Eastern Market are all also in Southeast DC?. You're aware that many of the tiny townhouses there built long ago for people who must have been no more than 5'8" tall sell today for $2 million and up? As a "total no go zone" Southeast DC is a complete failure. Ask any of the yuppies and upscale families who live there.
I really should have elaborated. Mind you I'm a little frazzled figuring up how to get two TVs and a whole closet of clothes into a 2001 Honda Accord. The rough parts of Southeast DC like Barry Farms, Congress Heights, Anacostia, Benning Rd are the first thing I think of when someone says SE DC. I'm sure many in NoVA would be guilty of this.
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:24 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,313,751 times
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Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
I'm sure many in NoVA would be guilty of this.
All the more reason to point out the problem. Help the already afflicted in purging themselves of sin, while at the same time helping to keep newbies from falling into the same trap. By the way, you might want to revisit some of those south shore communities you mentioned. Could be time for an update there also.
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