Thursday, January 22, 2009

So you think you can rent?

Most personal finance experts recommend you spend no more than 30 percent of your gross income on rent. Based on data that estimates Hollywood Temps make $28,000 per year (a number I believe is about $6,000 high), a Temp should spend no more than $700/month on rent. This amount "jumps" to $750/month for full-time assistants who scrape together $30,000 annually.

These are perfectly reasonable amounts if you live in Columbus, OH or Indianapolis. But in LA, this poses a problem where in 2002 (and it's safe to say due to inflation and the housing market crash, today's numbers are comparable) the average rental prices are as follows:
  • Studio/1 Bath -- $960
  • 1 BR/1 BA -- $1,298
  • 2 BR/2 BA -- $1,798
  • 3 BR/2 BA -- $3,220
Source: APA, pg. 45

So what's an hourly slug to do to account for this disparity? You can cut costs by dining on corporately-issued Red Vines and Cheetos in lieu of an actual meal. You can live like the Amish and stop paying that electric bill. You can even buy domestic beer...or maybe not. The best idea is to find a way to keep your rent down.

Following are some ways to lower your housing expenses because I can assure you, your paycheck ain't gonna go up...

Live under your work desk -- Sixteen cubic feet of paradise complete with DSL, HVAC (Mon-Fri, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.), parking, building security and all the microwave popcorn you can eat. The only downside - you're living like veal. But at least it's cheap. You can also take comfort in knowing you're not the first person to do it.

Live in a big group house that probably violates code -- There are pluses and minuses to such an approach. Sure, it'll drive your rent down significantly. But you might get stuck living with a freak. And no one wants that.

Move in with Someone Famous -- The smartest way to reduce housing expenses -- have someone else pay for them. There are many Hollywood execs who are shopping for a new model (double meaning intended) to replace the aging one they have at home. So put on your most form-fitting outfit, belly up to the Roosevelt Hotel bar and before you know it, you'll be living in 5-bedroom house in Pacific Palisades. [Tip: This works especially well if you are good looking and female. For men, this may result in waking up next to Madonna or Cher.]

Stay Where You Are -- There are no jobs here. Warner Bros, NBC and Viacom just finished layoffs. Disney and Sony are soon to follow. They just need to finish distributing bonuses first. Until then, I suggest you live in a place where jobs are more plentiful, housing prices are cheap and no one ever says the word "resies." Oklahoma City anyone?


Anonymous said...

Wait, what the heck? How did you know this is EXACTLY what I've been thinking about recently??

It is TOTALLY RIDICULOUS that companies aren't required to pay commensurate to the surrounding area. In fact, I thought that was pretty much how it went: if you live in Manhattan, say, yes, the rent is sky-high, but then again the median salary is higher than it is in Oklahoma City. But apparently while that's true to an extent, it's not even enough for assistants to be able to afford a shitty little studio apt!!

I think this is a disparity Obama should definitely work on. ;D

Anonymous said...

I worked at an agency and one of the jr. agents / sr. assistants was living in an empty office. He finally got caught after living there for like two months. He could no longer afford his apartment because when he was promoted to jr. agent he actually took a pay cut. How ridiculous is that?? Especially since the head of the agency just made $50 million in commission.

Anonymous said...

There IS another option! (under some circumstances)

If it makes you feel any better (and I'm sure it won't if you live up to your delightfully sarcastic self) I was one of the people 'lucky' enough to get hired as a director. I make roughly what you do... possibly less... At the time I got the offer that seemed like a minor detail. But since I'm the director everyone assumes I'm rich. And the company would like me to keep it that way. So I have to hide that I live at my parents' house while all the while resenting that my employers are clearly clearly taking advantage of me. yay!

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