home · Step 4: Cutting Costs

4 Tweaks To Make A Cheap Apartment Work

My place is super cheap… partly because I do some work around the property, and partly because it’s smallish, as well as short on some of today’s amenities. For example, it came with no lines for internet or phone, no tub, no dishwasher, no washing machine, and no dryer.

It is, however, cotinyhomemfortable, silent, pretty, spacious, bright, set in nature, within walking distance to a library and coffee shop, and in my preferred town. For five hundred bucks, I’ll take it!

Here are some key decisions that have made it work:

1. Release most of the stuff it came with. There was way too much—sheer excess. Handing most of the furniture and doodads back to the landlord created so much more space. For an increased sense of room, I also removed most of the doors from closets and upper cupboards, and stacked necessities vertically.

2. Portable washing machine. For the first year and a half, I carried my laundry across a large field to a shared facility. Multiple trips, countless coins. It was doable, but ultimately I declared it a hassle and bought a portable one. It’s on wheels, hooks up to my kitchen sink, cleans and wrings out the clothing beautifully, and then tucks out of the way. Love it! (To dry the clothes, I hang them on folding racks for a day.)

3. Use the lake and pool. I love being immersed in water, so when I had a tub I took a lot of baths. In fact, for a long time “tub” was on my list of apartment non-negotiables. I was certain I could not cope without one. Now I jump into the lake most days in the summer, and pay $28/mo to play in the community pool and soak in the hot tub the rest of the year.

4. Streamline. For example, rather than having dishsoap and handsoap in the kitchen, plus handsoap in the bathroom, and yet another type of soap in the shower stall, I use the following: dishsoap for dishes and hands in the kitchen; diluted dishsoap in a pump in the bathroom; a touch of shampoo for washing my body in the shower. Even this is excessive for the shampoo-free folks, but it’s the right balance for me while still supporting a sense of spaciousness.

Would I pay an additional $1100/mo or more (the starting market rate for typical units in the area) for an installed tub, washing machine, dryer, and more space? Nope. I implement a couple of low-cost workarounds to make a super cheap place work very well. Bonus: The place is quick and easy to clean, leaving me time and energy to work, relax, and play with my kid.

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