“Hey Jay, it’s John. I’m visiting Melbourne for a couple of nights next month and was wanting to save some money while there. Any chance you could pay for my hotel room? It should only be $1,000 per night.”
“Hey man, yeah no problems! I already paid for Mike’s hotel room a few months back so should be no problem sorting you out too.”
You’re probably wondering why I would ever pay $1,000 per night for a friends hotel room, it will make sense soon…
When Bee and I first moved in together (I was around 22, and she 20) we lived with other people our age in a share house. We had a little room, shared our living and kitchen space and had half of a fridge and freezer for all of our food.
We did this for a couple of years before moving in to our own place and since then (and until our recent move to London) we have lived mostly by ourselves.
One of the greatest things about living by ourselves was the fact that we could entertain. Dinner, drinks, board games. All of the fun stuff and WE were the hosts and there were no other people floating around in the house or their rooms. We could also buy all of the new shiny things we had ever wanted for our own place.
And most importantly, we didn’t have to jam everything we owned into one room any more. We could get a TWO bedroom place and Bee could have the main closet and I would use the one in the other room. We could get a spare bed for the second room and when friends visit from interstate they could stay with us! WE COULD BE THE HOSTS WE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE!!
The thing is, in hindsight, no-one really came.
Some did, but not many.
On average, our spare rooms would’ve been slept in five or ten nights out of the year. And this is where the math comes in.
We lived in our most recent place in Port Melbourne for 18 months. We looked at 1 bedroom apartments for around $450pw but they felt too small* and didn’t have a spare room for all of our friends and family who would be visiting to stay in. Plus, how were we going to host dinner with friends comfortably if we didn’t have a massive kitchen / dining area?
So we opted for the $650pw two bedroom place instead. Having realised a second room with just a bed can’t really be used for anything by US, we were smart** and bought a brand new fold out couch rather than a bed for the second room so it could double as a TV room. It had to be a very good fold out couch though if we were going to expect our friends to sleep on it so we went high end.
What resulted was a TV room we hardly used because we prefered to balance the TV on our ironing board in our bedroom most nights, with an overpriced fold out couch sitting in front of a huge entertainment unit, unused, 355 nights of the year.
So we were paying an extra $200 per week, or $10,400 per year for a completely underutilized second bedroom. Our mates who did stay, though, got a free nights stay at our place – at a cost to us of only $1,000 per night! Back-of-the-napkin math says we have spent around $40,000 paying for our friends hotel rooms over the past 5-6 years.
Looking back, another reason we chose the places we did was because our furniture and white goods were much bigger than they needed to be. Our big 6 seater table with accompanying wooden chairs for the odd night we have people over will next time be an expanding table with four chairs and some stackable stools doubling as a pot-plant stand.
Our massive fridge could’ve been much smaller and our massive two and three seater couches will provide much more flexibility as a smaller fold-out two seater and a couple of single seaters.
Now that we have done the hard work of selling essentially everything we owned that couldn’t fit in our tiny 1-metre-cubed storage cage, we have a clean slate to be much more calculated in our future purchases. The hedonistic desires are gone and we are far more realistic about what is enough and what is simply too much. For now we are living in the UK, back in a share-house, keeping our costs low while we work and travel in Europe.
When we next have our own place and a friend is coming to town they can sleep on our couch in the lounge (which will be smaller and probably have underseat storage) or MAYBE we will have an inflatable mattress hiding somewhere in the cupboard. If it’s my Mum or Grandparents I would not be expected to, but would be fully willing to pay for an Airbnb considering the $10,400 we would be saving each year on rent.
I’m glad we realised all of this early enough to make some small changes that will have a HUGE impact on our financial independence. Not only are we going to save money by having a smaller, more functional one bedroom apartment – being comfortable with a smaller place brings our cost of living DOWN and our target date CLOSER!
*The one bedroom places felt too small because they WERE too small BECAUSE our furtniture was too big. If we could go back to when we first moved in together we would buy second hand, smaller, more functional furniture that makes more sense for a household of two people.
**We were dumb. We owned it for a year and a half, it was used three times and we sold it for half the price we bought it. Total cost after sale = $500. We can add that to the cost of our mates ‘hotel rooms’.