This post first appeared on the blog of Ms. FOGA over at From One Geek To Another. I talk about why I love living in 160 square feet (around 15 square meters. Thank you Ms. FOGA, for this amazing opportunity. I hope you enjoy reading the article!
Hi friends, I’m Radical FIRE and I’m excited to talk about my shared apartment life.
Full disclosure: I have never lived in an entire apartment without roommates. When I started studying I shared my apartment with three others. I was moving out when I finished studying, convinced that I would try to find a small apartment for just myself.
Things changed when I started working back in April 2018. I was living at my parents after I returned from my four-month trip to South America, looking for a job. As soon as I found one, I would be looking for an apartment. However, the job that I found was over 100 km (65 miles) away from my parents’ house. That would be okay. Due to traffic, it would take me over 2 hours one way. I was exhausted, and I decided that I was done with this situation. Within a week, I found a shared apartment, where I live again with three others.
Meaning that I have lived in a shared apartment for all of my life.
While I enjoy sharing the apartment most days, some days, I really wish I could have my own apartment. I love to chat with my roommates, cook with them, or have drinks with them. I don’t like when I have to actively ignore other people’s mess (no, I don’t clean it up for them), there are no clean plates left, or my bread mysteriously disappears. There are pros and cons of living in a shared apartment, and if you’ve lived with flatmates, you know what I’m talking about here.
Today I want to talk to you about how living in a 160 square feet apartment has benefited me financially. You don’t need to live a 1500 square foot apartment to feel happy. Here are my reasons why I live in a 160 square feet apartment and enjoy it.
1. It’s Cheap
Obviously, living in a 160 square feet room and sharing all facilities is cheap. I live in a city, reasonably close to the city center, and I pay $310 rent, including utilities and WIFI. That’s insanely cheap compared with would you would pay for a 1000 square foot apartment.
Ms. FOGA: This is crazy inexpensive. Nothing in my area is under $1000 a month if we are including utilities and internet.
When I went looking for an apartment in the city I live in now, the prices started around $1000 per month for an apartment that was far from ideal. It was not close to the city center, it was in a terrible neighborhood, or there were no facilities nearby. Call me spoiled, but I’ve always lived in the city center close to supermarkets and other facilities like bars and restaurants.
I was extremely happy when I ran into the apartment I live in now, which met all my demands and was extremely cheap.
2. Strive For Your Financial Goals
When I first learned about FIRE and the benefits that it could give me, I noticed that living in a cheap apartment already put me one step ahead in the game.
Whatever your financial goals are, you can achieve them by living in a smaller apartment and by paying less rent. You can start building your emergency fund, pay off your debt, strive for financial independence or early retirement.
Ms. FOGA: Living in our old apartment definitely allowed us to make some serious headway on saving for our down payment and eliminating debt. Would highly recommend it.
There are all these kinds of financial goals that you would LOVE to achieve, but somehow, you don’t. Living in a smaller place can be a good start of saving more.
3. You Decrease Your Wants
Moving is always a lot of work and to be honest, I hate it. Luckily when you’re moving from or to a small(er) house, you don’t have to move as much stuff.
When I left my other apartment to travel, I sold all my furniture to the next tenant. The only thing I took was my bed. When I came into my new apartment, I had only my bed to fill my room. Quickly I got a table and a few chairs from my grandma and a secondhand closet. That’s it.
When you don’t have too much space, you don’t feel the need to fill it with all this stuff. You don’t feel the need to buy all these new things to make your apartment cozy. Because let’s be honest, when you live in a 160 square feet room, it’s already cozy no matter what.
In the personal finance space, there is this continuous discussion about needs and wants. People think an awful lot of things are needs when they are actually wants. If you live in a single room it’s easy; you don’t need a lot. You might want it, but it’s not even an option because of space.
After some time, you realize that you don’t need as much as you thought you needed. It’s perfect just the way it is now. When you realize that your needs were really wants, that’s when you can decrease your wants and be happy with the things you have.
I realized that having a lot of clothing options was a want. I had only one closet, so I had to make use of it effectively. When I read why successful people wear the same clothes every day, I began decluttering and downsizing.
4. You Live Lighter
When you have decreased your wants, this will shine through every aspect of your life. You don’t need that fancy car, entertainment budget, big wedding, fill in the blank. Because you know you can do it without that.
Your life becomes simplified, you know the things you value, and you become lighter. You know what makes you happy and what fills your cup. So, you do more of what makes you happy and less of what doesn’t. You don’t have so much of the things that don’t make you happy, the things that used to weight down on you.
If experiences make you happy, you don’t need to buy more material stuff. You might as well impose a one-year clothing ban because buying more clothes doesn’t make you happy.
If quality things make you happy, you don’t need no buy more stuff. You will buy those beautiful Jimmy Choos, instead of shopping at H&M.
If your family makes you happy, you don’t need to work more. You will spend more time with them, instead of spending more time in your cubicle.
5. It Forces Good Habits
Besides all of that, it forces good habits. It forces you to edit the space, and move things around to make use of the space as efficient as possible. You stop accumulating things; not buying new things that you don’t want. It forces you to declutter, getting rid of the things that don’t make you happy.
Essentially, the things that I have in my room has a purpose. I have it because I love it, or because I use it. Small living spaces force you to keep it to the things you love and other essentials.
Since I’ve been selling things over the last few years, I’ve come to a realization of how little things I actually need. Not to say that I’m a complete minimalist, but I know the distinction between my needs and wants perfectly now.
One thing that I still struggle with though is keeping things organized. I’m coming home and I don’t hang my jacket and put my bag in the middle of the room. I go make dinner, eat it, and don’t clean up my plate. I remember to do laundry and I come back into my room: BAM, it’s a complete mess. Keeping things organized and on top of that is extremely important when you’re living in a small room.
Due to living in my current apartment, I saved around 75% of my income so far this year, which I feel incredibly lucky to do. A lot of it is due to the fact that I was able to keep my rent super low. If this was not the case, I would have saved much less for sure.
If you’re curious about how to save more than half of your income, you can read more about it here.
How big is your apartment? Would you be able to live in a smaller apartment?