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Old 10-01-2014, 02:05 PM   #21
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What type of Standard of Living are they trying to define? For my area, Castro Valley/Pleasanton in SF Bay Area, they say for 1 person:

Living wage: 24K (gross)
Housing: 963 (Bull...1 bedroom rents are 1400 to 1800, does not include utilities)
Transportation: 283 (Bull...Insurance, repairs, gas, loan.. doesn't add up)
Everything else in life: 98 (Bull...... no way!)

If you make $24k here, you are poor and have to figure out alternatives (maybe living with the parents or relatives for free). I'm not advocating raising the wage at the low end of the scale, but why define it as a living wage. Technically, if you make a wage and you are living.....is that not a living wage?
The calculator says that a living wage in downtown San Francisco is $26,692 for 1 adult...
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:19 PM   #22
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The calculator says that a living wage in downtown San Francisco is $26,692 for 1 adult...
I guess they can sublet a closet for $500/month.
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:31 PM   #23
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The calculator says that a living wage in downtown San Francisco is $26,692 for 1 adult...
Studio apartments start around $2,500 per month in SF. What type of living is $26,692 per year?
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:45 PM   #24
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Our ER budget is 3X the number indicated by the calculator. Not surprisingly, the largest differences are travel, entertainment, housing, and medical. We budget $10K/yr for travel, usually one long international trip and 1-2 shorter domestic trips. Entertainment is $7K/yr for eating out, concerts, sporting events, movies, and the like. Our house is paid for, but as I've posted many times, it is way too big for our needs since the kids left. We will eventually downsize, but until then, we budget $24K/yr for property tax, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. Our medical insurance alone is $6K/yr; we estimate $8-9K total, including all out-of-pocket. Other areas like food and transportation are close. But we also budget $15K/yr for periodic one-shots, which may not happen every year, but still need to be provided for, such as car replacement, major repairs, and home improvements.

Here in North Texas, the cost of living is fairly low. But even so, the number indicated by the calculator is not "living." It's just "barely surviving." It's the mode where you panic when the car battery needs replacing. As someone else mentioned, "poor, but not starving." Neither of those accurately characterize my desired lifestyle in retirement. As we get older, downsize the house, cut back on travel, etc, I could see getting down to 2X.
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Old 10-02-2014, 09:22 AM   #25
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Studio apartments start around $2,500 per month in SF. What type of living is $26,692 per year?
Craigslist, folks! It took me around 23 seconds to find a few awesome places to live in SF for around $400-600/month.

Yes, I would be renting a room and sharing a house with a couple of roommates. However the one place I looked at closely offered a much nicer kitchen than what I have in my own house.

Living wage doesn't equal living large wage. It's how the other half live.
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:40 AM   #26
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Craigslist, folks! It took me around 23 seconds to find a few awesome places to live in SF for around $400-600/month.

Yes, I would be renting a room and sharing a house with a couple of roommates. However the one place I looked at closely offered a much nicer kitchen than what I have in my own house.

Living wage doesn't equal living large wage. It's how the other half live.
I didn't realize that rooms in SF could be had that cheaply. I also did a search, but looked at the section for apartments and single dwellings, as opposed to shares. I lived in a nice mother-in-law unit in the Outer Sunset area of SF in 2008. It was ~450 sq feet at a guess and I was paying $1195/mo. Thanks to Craigslist, I noticed that similar units to that seem to be going for ~$1500 now. However, there are smaller (and more pokey-looking) mother-in-law and studio units going for as low as $750 in the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset districts.

As you get closer to the downtown area, it gets more expensive, but you can get places for considerably less than the $2500 quoted by jkern if you look around. As Fuego suggested, they may not be the kind of places you'd prefer to live in but then, if you're living on a subsistence income in an expensive city, you can't always have what you want - but with a bit of luck and hard looking, you might get what you need (or however the lyric goes.....)
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:50 AM   #27
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As an addendum to my last post, an old co-worker of mine retired in SF in 2008. I don't think he had much, if anything, in the way of savings, so the majority of his retirement was funded by SS. He had worked in medium-level retail jobs for most of his working life, so his SS payments would have been modest. Not sure of his exact age, but he looked to be 62-65.

How did he achieve this feat of retiring on a modest SS amount in San Francisco? Well, he was sharing a house with a long-term partner and several other couples. I believe they had all lived there for a while, so they would have been enjoying the benefit of rent control. After the first few months of retirement he did tell me that finances were a bit tight, but he was very happy, as he now had more time to devote to his artwork and well, everything else in his life. He was an intelligent, well educated guy with a lovely personality and a great love of life. Although I think many of us in this culture assume that living with roommates is something you do only when you're young, merely as a stepping stone to getting your own place, he was a sociable and mature individual for whom this type of arrangement seemed to work very well. It certainly was helping to control his accommodation costs.

As was mentioned in another thread here recently, somehow, most people manage.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:51 AM   #28
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I figure the living wage is equal to what a frugal retiree needs. Think about what that must be like, to subsist yourself on 15-30 k a year, but with zero assets or emergency fund to provide mental safety and sanity. Any financial surprise could ruin you.


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Old 10-02-2014, 12:09 PM   #29
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I didn't realize that rooms in SF could be had that cheaply. I also did a search, but looked at the section for apartments and single dwellings, as opposed to shares. I lived in a nice mother-in-law unit in the Outer Sunset area of SF in 2008. It was ~450 sq feet at a guess and I was paying $1195/mo. Thanks to Craigslist, I noticed that similar units to that seem to be going for ~$1500 now. However, there are smaller (and more poky-looking) mother-in-law and studio units going for as low as $750 in the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset districts.
I have no idea where those places I found were located (Balboa park??) but they appeared to be "on the peninsula" or whatever you might call the land jutting out between the bay and the Pacific.

I'd say in the context of "bare bones place to live" in the living wage discussion, that a single adult should consider shared accommodations before saying "it's impossible to rent a place for under $2500". Especially if we (through higher taxes or mandatory wages) are being asked to pay for their lifestyle.

Want a nicer place? Work more hours, make more money, get a side hustle, move to lower COL area.
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Old 10-02-2014, 12:17 PM   #30
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Want a nicer place? Work more hours, make more money, get a side hustle, move to lower COL area.
Agreed. We all have to live within our means eventually (even if some of us initially try to ignore this "law of physics"). If our means are modest well, extra powers of adaptability and creativity are called for.

It's not rocket science, though some people try to turn it into that!
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Old 10-02-2014, 12:37 PM   #31
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That calculator gives a monthly housing average of about $1152 per month for a single person in my zipcode (20769). Which, could theoretically cover a $180-200K mortgage and property taxes. But, then you have utilities, homeowner's insurance, and upkeep.

As for renting? Well, there are no apartment buildings in my zipcode, so if you're renting anything, it's either a basement apartment, or your sharing a house with someone. So yeah, I guess that way, you could get something for around $1152 per month.

Anyway, in my case, property taxes were $3164 this year. Homeowner's insurance is about $900, and electricity is around $3200 (all-electric house, old, not very well-insulated). Water bill is about $500 per year (billed quarterly). You can probably get phone/internet/tv bundled for around $100 per month, or simply do without if you're on a tight budget. All that comes out to around $747 per month, $647 if you don't do phone/tv/internet. Now in my case, I have two roommates, so a single person would use less water, and less electricity, but the electric bill wouldn't go down that much, since the bulk of that is heating/cooling, and not individual usage.

Anyway, subtract all that out, and you're only looking at maybe $400-500 per month left over for the mortgage, if you're budgeting $1152 per month.
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Old 10-02-2014, 02:03 PM   #32
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This calculator didn't make a lot of sense when I tested two areas: the KC suburb where we now live and the Bergen County, NJ town where I lived until 2003. When I left NJ I sold my 3-BR postwar tract house for $550K. The house we bought in a well-regarded KC suburb was a McMansion and cost $242K. Property taxes are commensurately lower.

The calculator says that 2 adults need $4K more per year pre-tax in the NJ town than our current town. Hardly. We started saving a ton of $$ after we moved here, which is a big reason I was able to ER.
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Old 10-02-2014, 02:29 PM   #33
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Craigslist, folks! It took me around 23 seconds to find a few awesome places to live in SF for around $400-600/month.

Yes, I would be renting a room and sharing a house with a couple of roommates. However the one place I looked at closely offered a much nicer kitchen than what I have in my own house.

Living wage doesn't equal living large wage. It's how the other half live.
I just did a quick look at craigslist for shared rooms in SF and I didn't find awesome places for $400 to $600 per month. First page of search, the lowest I saw was $650/month that wasn't temporary or weekly. I opened the first $650/month ad and it was sharing a bunk bed with another person in a room. Not what I would call awesome. The first two ad's were $1500 and $1550 for a room in a shared place. Rooms shares went up to over $2000/month. Rooms shares appeared to average around $1000 to $1500. People making very low wages live a Standard of Living on the fringe, not what most of us would consider normal.
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Old 10-03-2014, 04:01 PM   #34
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I just did a quick look at craigslist for shared rooms in SF and I didn't find awesome places for $400 to $600 per month. First page of search, the lowest I saw was $650/month that wasn't temporary or weekly. I opened the first $650/month ad and it was sharing a bunk bed with another person in a room. Not what I would call awesome. The first two ad's were $1500 and $1550 for a room in a shared place. Rooms shares went up to over $2000/month. Rooms shares appeared to average around $1000 to $1500. People making very low wages live a Standard of Living on the fringe, not what most of us would consider normal.
This time it took 12 seconds to find this one:

Large furnished sunny bedroom w/private bath available.

$480/month

Did you look at the rooms & shares at SF bay area rooms & shares - craigslist ?

I sorted by price and there appear to be a fair amount around the $500-600 range.

If I was near destitute, I could probably afford multiple minutes or even hours researching these places, asking friends, looking at community bulletin boards, etc for reasonably priced accommodations. I've found that somehow broke students and non-multimillionaires seem to get by in expensive COL areas somehow.
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Old 10-03-2014, 05:19 PM   #35
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I've found that somehow broke students and non-multimillionaires seem to get by in expensive COL areas somehow.
The bigger question is why anyone of such limited means would choose to live in such a high COL area. We don't expect to find "affordable" apartments in Beverly Hills, I don't know why people expect find them at all in places like SF that have been bid up to such high levels. The fact that any exist is a bit surprising--though I might be less surprised by the "low" price if I saw the places in person.
Those pushing for "affordable" housing in such spots of high demand/low supply have a tough case to make: Why should cheap housing exist in a place that is very expensive?
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Old 10-03-2014, 06:07 PM   #36
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That calculator does not take into account the added benefits a person or family would get from the state for being poor. The SNAP program, subsidized housing allowance, etc. I think many people are living better than the calculator estimates in real life because of programs like that and working under the table.
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:17 PM   #37
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The bigger question is why anyone of such limited means would choose to live in such a high COL area. We don't expect to find "affordable" apartments in Beverly Hills, I don't know why people expect find them at all in places like SF that have been bid up to such high levels. The fact that any exist is a bit surprising--though I might be less surprised by the "low" price if I saw the places in person.
Those pushing for "affordable" housing in such spots of high demand/low supply have a tough case to make: Why should cheap housing exist in a place that is very expensive?
I would hope they are living in high COL areas in the hopes of finding a job that pays enough to compensate them for the COL differential (and then some).

I wouldn't expect all parts of SF or Beverly Hills to have "affordable" housing, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't relatively affordable housing somewhere within commuting distance (where's the guy gonna live that cleans the toilets at the plastic surgery offices and boutiques?).
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:28 PM   #38
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I wouldn't expect all parts of SF or Beverly Hills to have "affordable" housing, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't relatively affordable housing somewhere within commuting distance (where's the guy gonna live that cleans the toilets at the plastic surgery offices and boutiques?).
Right. No part of Beverly Hills has "affordable" housing. The guys/gals who clean the toilets in Beverly Hills live in lower-cost areas (North Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, East LA, etc) and take a bus or share a ride into Beverly Hills. That makes perfect sense, and nobody expects to find "affordable" housing in BH proper. I guess activists are demanding "affordable" housing in SF and other similar places because housing in these places used to be within the financial reach of blue collar workers. Well, if it ain't so anymore then they are in the same place as Beverly Hills and people with little money will probably need to commute into the city if they need to. It doesn't much matter what happened in previous times.
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Old 10-03-2014, 08:31 PM   #39
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Right. No part of Beverly Hills has "affordable" housing. The guys/gals who clean the toilets in Beverly Hills live in lower-cost areas (North Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, East LA, etc) and take a bus or share a ride into Beverly Hills.
Try taking the #4 bus from Santa Monica towards downtown LA in the evening and you'll see this happening. Large numbers of Latinos board the bus in West LA and Beverly Hills. When I used to get off at the east end of Hollywood, most of them were still on the bus, heading for parts more easterly (downtown/East LA etc. most likely).
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Old 10-03-2014, 08:47 PM   #40
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This time it took 12 seconds to find this one:

Large furnished sunny bedroom w/private bath available.

$480/month

Did you look at the rooms & shares at SF bay area rooms & shares - craigslist ?

I sorted by price and there appear to be a fair amount around the $500-600 range.

If I was near destitute, I could probably afford multiple minutes or even hours researching these places, asking friends, looking at community bulletin boards, etc for reasonably priced accommodations. I've found that somehow broke students and non-multimillionaires seem to get by in expensive COL areas somehow.
Anybody notice that this post "has been flagged for removal."

I absolutely do not believe these listings. In Seattle, a cheaper city, an attractive young woman might find a room for $500 if she didn't mind some ancillary duties. Otherwise, forget it.

Ha
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