Could commuting be the answer to your financial woes?

Everyone knows that rent in Melbourne and Sydney is expensive but it’s single young professionals who have outgrown the share house lifestyle and crave space of their own are feeling it more than anyone. Unable to split rental costs with a significant other, singles are forking out as much as $500 per week for a 1-bedroom/studio apartment in Melbourne and $600 in Sydney!

In 2013 London resident, Joe Cookney tweeted, “Done the sums, would actually be cheaper for me to rent a 2 bed flat in Barcelona+commute to London, than get a 1 bed here. Genuinely. Blog it?”

Egged on by the twittersphere, what started out as a joke soon became a reality for Cookney when he eventually put his theory in to action. In May this year, Cookney made the move to Barcelona and now commutes a couple of times per week to his London office. He rents a 2-bedroom apartment with a rooftop terrace and commutes to London each day for work. “I am actually saving money,” he says.

Ryanair flights in Europe mean that flying often costs the same as catching the tube in London so this sort of lifestyle choice could become increasingly popular in the coming years.

While flights in Australia don’t yet compare with Ryanair flights (that are sometimes as low as 1 Euro), it’s still worth considering embracing a longer commute in order to reduce your costs and potentially improve your lifestyle. With a growing number of workplaces embracing a more flexible approach to work, living further away from the city is becoming more and more palatable.

In Melbourne, it costs around $500 to rent a studio apartment in the city center. In comparison, in the beautiful town on Kyneton that is just 60 minutes from Melbourne by train, you could expect to rent a 2 bedroom house complete with backyard and vegie garden for a measly $295 per week. Moving somewhere on the city fringe also means that you can easily access the city for social engagements or weekend activities but you also have the option to chill out in your spacious abode when you want to!

As with many things in life, it comes down to thinking outside the square. City rent prices getting you down? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Consider your imaginary city life versus your ACTUAL city life. Many people like the idea of having all the things the city has to offer on their doorstep but in reality, rarely have time to enjoy them. With responsibilities like work and family, the vast majority of people are heading home at the end of the day rather than catching a late night gallery opening. Would moving out of the city really change your lifestyle that much?
  1. Consider what a move might do for your long-term financial situation and your asset building strategy. Would a move to a place with lower rent allow you to save up a deposit for a house of your own for example? A small compromise for long-term gain could be worth it.  Housing affordability is much better in the bush than in the city and if and when you do have a family, the school bus is often free!
  1. Talk to your employer about your plans and see whether they would be willing to allow you work from home a few days per week. Many employers are now more than willing to permit this.
  1. Whether you’re thinking about moving or not, it’s always a good idea to do a stocktake of your life expenses. This will allow you to get a clear view of what you are spending every week in your currently lifestyle (it’s often way more than you think).