How Our Household Expenses Have Changed a Year After Moving Closer to Work

It’s been exactly a year since we moved into our new rented apartment/house. I can’t begin to express how fortunate we were to come across it, and it’s even more difficult to believe how close we moved to work.

And how did we learn about this place?

I was driving back to work from a dental appointment one day when I noticed a “For Rent” sign in front of a house on one of the back roads that led directly to work. I called to inquire about the available rental. The house was divided into two units: one occupied on the first floor and one vacant on the second floor, with a finished attic.

Our biggest upgrade!

Since it was originally a single-family home, the house had an unusual layout. That was fine until the owner informed me that there was no dishwasher. That would have been a deal-breaker for us because I cook frequently and the wifey is always stuck with doing the dishes.

Nonetheless, I mentioned the rental to Tatiana on our way home. She suggested that we look into it and see if the landlord would be willing to install a dishwasher.

We inspected the property and were impressed by its appearance. The landlord completely renovated it. To cut a long story short, he agreed to install a dishwasher after reconfiguring the kitchen and accommodating a few other items that enticed us to take the apartment.

Ready for a lease renewal?

We’ve been here for a year and are about to renew our lease for another year at the same rate (wifey negotiated no rent increase for two years in the original lease).

We were concerned about paying a higher rent before deciding to find a new apartment. We could afford to pay more, but just because you have the money doesn’t mean you should spend it.

After all, aggressive saving and investing is our top priority in order to achieve our goal of becoming financially independent. We decided to go ahead with it anyway because we thought the two-mile commute and extra time back every day would be worth it.

Spending categories affected by the move

If I told you that our new rent is $1,150 per month, up from $750, you could easily calculate that the difference is an additional $400 in rent per month. While this is correct, the total cost, as shown in the table below, tells a different story.

So, how has relocating closer to work changed our lives and finances?

Let’s look at the numbers after a year to see how we’re doing.

Home expenses

The move has an impact on the following spending categories:

ExpenseLast year in old apartmentFirst year in new apartment Comments
Rent$9,000$13,800Both rentals include heat and water; however, in the new place, we must pay for trash and electricity.
Electricity$0$602We were able to keep our monthly electricity costs under $50 because we got used to being slightly uncomfortable in the heat.
Trash & Recycling$0$165At the very least, we save money by splitting the trash bill with our downstairs neighbor.
Local Wage Taxes $1,950 475This was a welcome surprise. When relocating, you should always calculate the local wage tax rate. Lowering the rate is equivalent to receiving an instant pay raise.
Gasoline$1,769$940Part of the savings can be attributed to lower gas prices, but the majority is due to the shorter commute.
Buying Lunch at Work$858$564We can bring lunch to work more frequently now that we can cook at home more frequently, or even go home for lunch if necessary.
Groceries$3,549$4,782Groceries have increased because we are buying more to cook at home.
Restaurants$4,679$3,302Cooking more homemade meals reduced dining out expenses. It also helps that we’re not in the heart of the trendy city, which is home to many of our favorite restaurants.
Coffee Shops$222$140We’re spending less time in coffee shops and more time on the porch.
Total $22,027 $24,770The annual additional cost of living in a new apartment is $2,743.

Benefits of moving

For an extra $2,743 per year, or $229 per month, we can:

  • have more time during the week to prepare homemade meals.
  • have time to blog and pursue other interests.
  • upgraded to a dishwasher (Tatiana loves it).
  • are able to go home for lunch if necessary.
  • have a comfortable porch to unwind on after work.
  • have a nice park right next to our house with basketball courts and a playground with swing sets.
  • have a train station within two blocks that will take us directly to Philadelphia.
  • reduced the possibility of being involved in a highway accident while commuting to work.
  • are within walking distance of the 14-mile-long Chester Valley Trail.
  • have plenty of parking for visitors.
  • upgraded from a one-bedroom apartment with a large living room to a two-bedroom apartment with a separate dining room, living room, and a dance/music room (3rd bedroom).
  • have a landlord who owns a construction company and looks after the property.
  • are 15 minutes closer to our rental property.
  • and most importantly, we cut our stressful commute from 40 minutes to 5 minutes.

Commute time value

We now have more time to enjoy life now that our long commute is over. We value our time above all else, which is why we’re working to achieve financial independence. The time we don’t spend driving has a monetary value.

We’re saving a total of 12 hours per week by relocating closer to work. With 48 weeks of work per year (plus 4 weeks of vacation/sick pay/personal time off), we were spending an additional 576 hours per year (24 days) in a car, not including any delays.

Hypothetically speaking, if we valued our time at $40 per hour, we would have spent approximately $23,040 of our time driving. That doesn’t even take into account the wear and tear on our vehicles.

Building wonderful memories

We’re very happy and at ease in our new surroundings. We’re making wonderful memories with our loved ones and hope to stay until our first leg of early retirement.

Cheers to regaining more of our time so we can tell you our story!

Making wonderful memories!
We’re very happy and at ease in our new surroundings. We’re making wonderful memories with our loved ones and hope to stay until our first leg of early retirement.

Cheers to regaining more of our time so we can tell you our story!

What effect does your commute have on your expenses?


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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Des @ Half Banked
Des @ Half Banked
8 years ago

I love how detailed you got with this analysis! In the past year, I made the switch from living and working downtown, to living in the suburbs and working downtown, to finally getting a job in the suburbs, so I feel like I’ve lived every extreme – and by far the most expensive one was the one with the big commute! Not only was I paying for a car (because The Suburbs) but I was paying for a monthly bus pass as well, which ran me a cool $125 a month. It was still cheaper than driving for 30 minutes one way and paying downtown parking rates, but wow – saving that has made a huge difference! And the time I save every day with my new 5-minute commute is still a luxury I don’t take for granted.

Awesome post – I’m glad I found your blog!

8 years ago

Hi Des,
Thanks! I’m glad you love the details. It’s great to be able to make the switch and find a job within such a short distance. The big commute cost does add up, especially when you have tolls and lots of highway miles to drive. That $125 monthly bus pass is a cool $1,500 addition to your savings. Awesome!
Cheers to you getting all that time back. Thanks for dropping by! We’re so happy that you and others are finding our blog.

8 years ago

Interesting analysis! I like the way the difference in cost more than justifies with the quality of living. Nothing in life is free my friend 🙂 but feels like you are gaining more than what you are spending. Excellent decision!

8 years ago
Reply to  LM

Hi! Yes, it’s been an awesome gain. Thanks for dropping in!

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