My name is Madeleine. I’m semi-homeless and I love it.
You might be asking why. Well, it’s because it’s the only way I’ve been able to keep costs down in New York City while I’m living off my hourly wage.
Not moving into a Union Square studio, near where I work, has saved me $2,510 per month, according to Naked Apartments.
Even if I went for something comparable in Brooklyn, a quick 20 minute train ride away, I would still pocket more than $1,600 over the same time period.
I also consider heating, which averages between $245 and $425 per month during winter, according to Lowerelectricbilltoday.com. Water and general electricity add at least $20 more to costs, and internet comes to about $50 a month.
So if I were to make a low-ball estimate—say I lived in Brooklyn, spent $240 on heating for four months and $70 per month on water, electricity and internet– I’d find that I’m saving $21,020 over the year through my vagabond tactics.
What are these tactics to saving this handsome sum? Well, I schlep among several different New York City pads, and I never stay more than a couple consecutive nights. My travels take me to the Lower East Side, Washington Heights, the East Village and sometimes all the way out to Darien, Connecticut.
It’s all part of what I like to call “city networking.”
My trusty bag, which I bought at a Housing Works thrift store, functions as my life support. In it I carry my brother’s can opener, a scarf, makeup, hair products, face lotion, a curling iron, deodorant, credit cards I’ve been too lazy to activate, my phone and a clean change of clothes.
Each work day I also take at least one can of Trader Joe’s amazing cheap soup that costs an average of $1.50 each. I like the black bean, split pea, tomato and vegetarian chilli flavours.
So far my rent-free venture has worked exceptionally well, except for the fact I’ve lost a passport, an $80 scarf, more than $100 worth of makeup and my wallet.
After an extended amount of time, I suspect I’ll start jeopardizing my personal relationships with anyone whose place I crash at for free. Their roommates might begin to hate me too.
To counter the problem, I sometimes buy food, make dinner, run the laundry, and clean the kitchen. Once I even re-designed the bathroom with new curtains and product hanger, and a real deep scrub.
But in the end whatever I do won’t be worth more than $20,000.
I’ve thought of eventually turning to couchsurfing.org, which I’ve heard has a bunch of people who love to party and let you stay on their couch for free. But more realistically I’ll probably splurge on my own pad. Until then, let the semi-homeless woman that I am vagabond on.
Deciding whether or not to splurge on your own apartment? See the pros and cons here >