The Housing Chronicles Blog: L.A. Times "Money Talk" columnist smacks renter

Sunday, August 10, 2008

L.A. Times "Money Talk" columnist smacks renter

Liz Pulliam Weston, who writes the "Money Talk" column for the L.A. Times, gave a renter some straight talk regarding how much money to spend on rent. Although her response might seem harsh, I think she has a point regarding renters who refuse to take on roommates and so are more likely to incur debt and not be ready for financial emergencies; in fact, of the friends I have with the worst finances, they're renters who insist on living alone even if it negatively impacts their savings rates, debt levels and credit ratings.

First, the question:

I have read in your columns and elsewhere that people shouldn't spend more than 30% of their gross incomes on housing.

But sky-high rent has become a sad reality for many people living in large cities. Even in the smaller city where I live, a one-bedroom apartment costs upward of $800 a month, not including utilities. The 30% rule is no longer true for many of us. I know my rent eats 45% of my monthly income, and I was lucky enough to find a half-decent place.

Followed by her response:

If you spend more than 30% of your gross on housing, you're likely to have trouble making ends meet. You may not be able to save adequately for emergencies and retirement. You're more likely to go into debt.

Only on television can young people with entry-paying jobs live in fabulous apartments in great neighborhoods. In reality, smart twentysomethings do what's required to keep housing costs down, including living in cheaper neighborhoods and sharing space with roommates. They get over their adolescent fantasies of what city living would be like and deal with the reality of making their budgets balance.

SLAM!! In other words, "grow up." Makes me think about the time I got a roommate who secretly moved in two birds, a cat and a dog when I was out of town (before I evicted him), but at least he helped pay the rent!

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