How I’ve payed next to NOTHING in rent living in Los Angeles



A LITTLE BACKGROUND

What’s up V.I.P’s. I wanted to share this story of mine. A story about a guy who at the age of 27 moved to Los Angeles with nothing but a suitcase and $2,000 in his savings account. I knew that staying in Nashville after college wasn’t really for me. I knew I wanted a different scenery and an overall different experience. I wanted to meet new people from all different types of backgrounds and I wanted to feel free walking out the door. People in Los Angeles are more accepting and they tend to get your weirdness and creativity here. 

My main objective was to move out here and get into acting. I’ve done a few projects here and there and I also create my own content. I’m learning more that’s the lane I’m more likely to go down as I advance in my career. I’ve always been a non traditional person. I’ve always been the type of guy who was “over there somewhere” doing my own thing. Falling in line and following the proper route was always boring to me. Little did I know, my journey would be heading down an interesting path. Although I love the theatre, love filming, editing, directing and writing, I’m finding that there’s so many layers to myself I didn’t know I had inside of me.  


MY DECISION TO BECOME DEBT FREE

Recently I’ve been obsessed with becoming debt free. I stumbled across a YouTube video of Dave Ramsey and I became HOOKED. I thought to myself “Never again!” Growing up, my parents weren’t really in my life. I watched my father constantly be in and out of my life because of his drug addiction. I never witnessed him owning a home, saving his money, investing, that just wasn’t my dad. Although our relationship has been choppy my whole life, I still have respect and love for my father. One thing my dad always taught me was to have an interest and love for God. I always saw that in him growing up and striving to be a better person, which continues to inspire me to be a better Christian. 

     At the same time, I did watch my grandmother and Aunt go into work everyday and raise a kid after already raising their own. I never was taught about money, saving or credit in general, so naturally, I was ignorant to a lot of things. One of my biggest debts today is student loans. I guess that’s okay, right? I also got in some other debt as well.


CHAOS 6 MONTHS INTO LIVING IN L.A

Fast forward back to 2014, first moving to Los Angeles, I moved into my second official apartment after 3 months of living here. I met a good friend at the time and we both found a 2 bedroom apartment not far from downtown Los Angeles. Me and my roommate eventually ran into some disagreements and it resulted in him leaving without notice. I was left with his part of the rent and share of bills, and I had nothing saved up. I panicked. I was scared of the absolute worst. I gave up my 1 bedroom apartment in Nashville, sold most all my stuff except my clothes,  just to move here and not have part of the rent and subject to being evicted. Now what? 


A BLESSING IN DISGUISE

My roommate leaving turned out to be a blessing in disguise and it ultimately became a full circle moment. I got the chance to work out a deal with my landlord, (who by the way is the coolest landlord on the planet.) and make payments on his part of the rent and find another roommate to replace him. I also was able to put the apartment in my name. Since then, my landlord has allowed me to sublet the second bedroom for the past 6 years, and it’s worked out  quite beautifully for me. It turns out my apartment here in Los Angeles is considered rent stabilized. 


RENT STABILIZATION

A rent stabilization (or rent controlled) is basically a law that was past here in Los Angeles to offset the homelessness rate. It basically means that landlords can’t skyrocket the rent every so often to whatever price they want. Landlords can only go up, as of 2020, 4% a year if they decide to. It’s nothing that you apply for, it’s something that you just get lucky with if it happens to be apart of the apartment building your applying to. The building also has to be so many years old for it to qualify to the building. If you happen to live in Los Angeles, you can look for apartments that have rent stabilization. The challenge you run into, however, is of course if there are any vacancies which brings me to this next point.

     You can imagine residents who happen to live in a rent stabilized apartment stay long, especially here in Los Angeles where the rent is ridiculously over priced. That’s why it was created. It’s not as huge as it should be and I’m not sure on the stats concerning the number of buildings that qualify for it, but they are hard to find a vacancy. I accidentally stumbled upon mine from you’ll never guess, Craigslist. After I got the green light to rent out my second bedroom, I now was THE KING OF THE WORLD!


HOW I PAY NEXT TO NOTHING IN RENT


Remember when I mentioned earlier how I recently became obsessed with becoming debt free? Well, renting out my second bedroom has enabled me to do that. If I didn’t have a roommate and my rent was regular market, it definitely would be harder for me to reach my goal. When I moved into my apartment in 2014, it was $1,100. It since then has increased to $1,250. 

     So basically, the short answer to the title of this post is nothing new nor a secret but to simply get a roommate. Now I know if you don’t live in L.A you think those rent prices are crazy high, even with my rent stabilization, but let me break some stuff down for you: A regular studio in Los Angeles (not even a one bedroom or full kitchen) is on average, $1,300. So, 2 bedroom, $1,250. Studio, $1,300. You can only imagine what an average 1 bedroom apartment could be. Now, since my current rent is $1,250 and if you divide it by 2, that’s virtually nothing in rent. But here’s the beautiful part:  I don’t even pay half of my rent. That amount will remain private 😉 Since the utility bills are in my name, I do pay for those out of pocket. 

Not only am I able to save on rent, I’m able to pay off debts sooner than later. Currently I have no credit card debt and I plan to only have student loan debt by the end of this year. I plan to totally be debt free by 2023. I have started investing for retirement and do plan to invest in other areas as well, but right now my primary focus is paying off debt and then saving 3-6 months of emergency funds. I made a conscious decision this year to do things different. I don’t want to be a repeat of my father, financially. I want to be smart with my money, I want to purchase a home in the coming years, I don’t want to repeat the cycle. 


THE BIGGER PICTURE

 I spent a lot of time thinking that because I didn’t live in a fancy, overpriced, or average over priced neighborhood, that I was settling and not growing but it was the total opposite. My roommate leaving? All apart of the plan. That Dave Ramsey video I stumbled on to start paying off debt? All apart of the plan. All of this became full circle. Everything turned out to be a HUGE blessing for me. I’m actually living at my means. That’s something you don’t hear everyday, right? Thankfully, the pandemic hasn’t affected me because of discipline. In fact, it’s skyrocketed me ahead. Now I’m inspired to invest in real estate in the future. This experience has inspired me and my goal is to rent out my first home and I can’t wait for the possibilities. 

I hope this has inspired you in some way. I hope this has helped you grow in some way. Until next time,

-V


If your interested in becoming debt free, raising your credit score or wanting info on investing or buying your first home, please check out
My Debt Loss Journey, a service I created for Black millennials striving to become debt free. Join the WINNING TEAM!

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