Commuting takes Cash
In the final months of college, Pierre and I had it pretty great. We had minimal student debt, both graduated in 4 years, and even had full-time jobs lined up. Better yet we had nice post-graduation housing, living next to my parents in small town Iowa. With a population less than my graduating college class, it was an adjustment.
The Small town apartment.
My parent bought the house next to them about 4 year ago as a place, for my aging, but still sassy, grandma to live. It is a duplex built in the 70’s, kind of fabulous in a way. It had a unit upstairs and down stairs. We took the vacant bottom unit. It was a nice apartment, 2 bedrooms with a large kitchen and access to a fenced in backyard, which our dog loved! It was also great being so close to my parents, including the times my mom packed us lunch. But I think the best part about this apartment was that it was free. That right, 100% free, we didn’t even have to play for utilities — thanks grandma!
Free isn’t always free
On the surface this seemed like a great deal, no rent, no utilities, and a large space, but in the long run it wasn’t sustainable for a few reasons.
In the weeks after graduation, the apartment was great, but as a time passed, reality set in. It was an hour commute each way. This took a toll on us mentally and our cars physically. We both had economic reliable vehicles. We started off our commuting journey by using my car every day. Unfortunately, this ended after 2.5 months when my car called it quits in the middle of a rain storm halfway home. So now it was Pierre’s car’s turn. His two-door Alero made me long for my boat-like Buick’s comfy seats. It got us through our long commuting days, but no doubt these long trips contributed to it’s untimely demise.
The cars obviously weren’t the only expense. The most costly part was what they ran on — gas! We drove 110 miles each day getting roughly 25 miles per gallon. With gas prices the way they are, it cost us north of $16 each day! This totaled up to $352 per month!
Living next to your family comes with some fantastic “amenities”. Crashing dinners at my parent’s house saved tons on our grocery bill, and having my wonderful mother do our laundry was also an amazing perk. Unfortunately the only form of nightlife was either a high school sporting event or something they call a “demo.” Weekends were spent either getting lost on the internet or doing the $16 drive for some excitement.
Some people view a nice car ride as a relaxing time to contemplate their day, I view it as a time-sucking unnecessary hassle. Between the two of us, the drive took a combined 4 man hours each day. This comes out to 80 hours per month. That is like both of us working an extra
I think what really got us questioning this apartment was developing and implementing a budget. We were then able to see where our money was going, down to the cent. This came to a realization that we had to leave the nest, even though I still miss having my mom pack our lunches.