Wednesday, May 12, 2010

EFM: Escaping Fiscal Madness

Apparently there has been some sort of housing bubble burst the past couple of years.

We haven't been property owners, land hunters, homeowners, etc., so other than noticing a few more "For Sale" signs during Tiffy's excretion expeditions, and a lot of news coverage, the housing market has not affected us.

That kind of changed yesterday. We received a notice from Charles E. Smith's henchmen stating there is a situation with our lease for which we need to meet with someone in management to discuss.

So we go down to the lobby and meet with a manger fresh out of college who also was visibly nervous. We go into an office, and he starts into an explanation that there is going to be a significant rent bump for us when our lease ends and it is because more people are moving into apartments to get out of the housing market, etc.

He was flushed; he was struggling with his words and computer program has he was looking for the data pertinent to our lease. So I nudge Natalie to tell her to put an end to this and tell him we're leaving anyway. Natalie, the sadist, was content to watch him squirm a little longer. I think he was relieved to find out we didn't really care about the rent increase.

We have been fortunate in that our lease is scheduled to end right about the same time we are suppose to move. Obviously, I didn't plan this out because it never would have worked this well. And if Natalie were to come up short of scoring a 3/3 on her Spanish exam and we need to stay a month longer, the Smith henchman agreed to keep our current rent rate in tact for us.

So what would the damage have been if we were not in the foreign service? Well, we probably would have commenced a search for a new apartment. They were going to up our rate by $300 per month ($400 for a new resident). Taking utilities into account, we would have been paying in the neighborhood of $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom, 1,800ish sq. ft. apartment in Crystal City.

To put this into perspective, that is about $48k per year for shelter. That is a salary, or more, for many people! Before I moved to D.C., I was renting a trailer in southeast Ohio, with two bedrooms, one bath and a large kitchen, for $365 per month.

Suddenly a free house in Hermosillo, or anywhere in the world for that matter, is very appealing (thank you, taxpayers!).


  1. David, you made an error with your math. If we were to stay in Crystal City, we'd be paying $24,000 a year for our rent, not $48,000!!

  2. But hey, we're in DC now, so "fuzzy" math works :)

  3. That is a crazy huge rent increase!

    And I will say this: food and other household items are INSANELY expensive here! I mean, I'm sure Houston is somewhat inexpensive, but to go from grocery shopping in Houston for a family to grocery shopping in DC for a family... HUGE HUGE change!! Massive cashola difference...

  4. So for obvious reasons, I went into liberal arts and writing instead of math and science. In my world, years are 24 months long.

  5. Just wait until you get your electricity bill in Mexico. You'll be even MORE grateful for taxpayers. Ours averages $600 a month so far just for electricity. I love the government!!

  6. Interesting. I'd just assumed you were in Oakwood Crystal City... But you have 1,800 square feet? That's almost three times what we have in Oakwood! Sounds like you definitely made the right choice. =)

  7. In the unlikely chance that you did stay in DC longer (and maybe for future posts in DC), you should confirm if local laws limit the amount a landlord can raise your rent (typically, you see a lot of states that limit it to 5-10% per year).

    BTW, utilities are covered in the FS?? Sweet deal.