Crash Pad Living

ImageOnce again, I am WAY overdue for a blog post. It has been several months! As you may know, I took a job as a flight attendant a little less than a year ago, and have been on the job now for about 6 months. I started flying internationally in December and you may have noticed my blog posts coming to a long hiatus. I do not bring my laptop with me on my layovers, which has hindered my abilities to post, and I have still been busy forming new friendships, finding a permanent apartment (which this post will cover), and exploring my new home of Miami. I am going to try to get back into the habit of updating this more often, though not daily like in the past. I have many new adventures to summarize, so there should be plenty of good material coming up soon!

For my first post back, I would like to talk about my life in what is called a “crash pad.” If you are not familiar with the flight attendant lifestyle (and yes, I say lifestyle, because it is more than just a career switch), you may have never heard of this term before. I hadn’t. Flight attendants are constantly on the go and do not get to spend much time at their residence, due to laying over in other cities. Many also commute to work (ex. a flight attendant may be based in NYC but live permanently in Boston) due to ease of air travel from flight benefits. For this reason, they may need a space to sleep in their base city, but do not want to commit to a full-time lease. Or they are a new flight attendant hoping to save some money during their first few months of the job and are still getting time to learn the area of their new base city or are hoping to quickly transfer to a new base if they did not receive their first choice. For this reason, cheap, temporary living is ideal. Hence, the concept of a “crash pad,” or a place just to crash between flights. When I received Miami (my first choice) as a base, I wanted to make a more permanent move down there. I wanted an apartment with my own room. There was a group of about 11 of us heading to Miami from my class, and another girl and I decided that we wanted a 2-bedroom apartment. However, never really exploring the city before and having limited time (and money) to find an apartment made our search difficult. Many of our classmates were hoping for a crash pad and there were a few crash pads that were commonly recommended to us. Well, we decided that would do that for about a month of two until we found a better place. Four of us joined a one-bedroom crash pad right next to the employee parking lot for the Miami International Airport. Yes, one bedroom. Due to the coming and going of flight attendants, a crash pad typically has many flight attendants or pilots crammed into a small space, since they are rarely all present at the same time. The point is just to “crash.” We had a large couch, a queen-size bed, and several air mattresses for when the four of us happened to be at the apartment at the same time. This was rare. The other three flight attendants commuted and caught flights home after their work shifts. Many times, I was the only one at the apartment. The other perk of a crash pad is saving money. We each paid $300 a month, which included all utilities, use of a pool, and a small fitness center. The one-bedroom by itself would have been $1200 (which is still somewhat high for Miami, but we paid the price of convenience of proximity to the airport). Before I knew it, I had been in the place until the end of January (after moving in at the end of September). Not my original plan. The other girl decided that she did not want to move down here permanently after learning how easy it was to commute and how much money could be saved. I still wanted to live in Miami, so I waited it out at the crash pad until a girl from my class who was based in NYC transferred down. In February, we moved to a 2-bedroom apartment about 25 minutes south of the airport. I have found that I am much less stressed now that I have my own room and can locate all of my belongings. At the crash pad, we had limited space and my things were mostly stowed away in my trunk or in piles in the closet at the apartment. Also, when there were more than 2 of us there at a time, sleeping arrangements became difficult and/or awkward. We tended to have preferences (I liked the bed, though one girl really preferred the couch and another would only sleep on her air mattress), so it worked for the most part, though it became stressful when one girl was trying to go to sleep (usually me…) and a couple of the others were preparing themselves for a night out. It definitely became a learning experience and I began to appreciate things in life that we take for granted, such as having our own room to retreat to when needed!

I am very happy at my new apartment, but did save a lot of money in a crash pad and gained a few valuable lessons. And as mentioned in a previous post, I do recommend having roommates to save money. This takes it to another level, but is an option for anyone (even those not in aviation), hoping to save money for a few months!

Photo credit: http://www.theflyingpinto.com/2013/05/flight-attendant-crash-pads.html

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Consider Living at Home or Getting Roommates

housing

For most people, housing is their biggest expense. While rent costs vary by region, you will almost always save money by living with others or living at home. According to the U.S. Housing Department and several other sources, Americans spend around 25-30% of their income on rent. With housing comprising such a high percentage of income, finding a way to cut back on housing costs should be one of the first ways that you look into saving money. While some people value a nice-looking or conveniently-located place or would rather live alone than deal with roommates or living at home, I personally would rather cutback on lodging in any way that I could (while I’m young and single) so that I could use that money for other things that I enjoy. And though living at home isn’t feasible for some who have moved away from their hometown, the savings do wonders for your bank account (even if putting up with relatives doesn’t sound that appealing — for some, no amount of savings could get them to live at home!).

When I first moved down to North Carolina and was researching places to live, I toyed around with the idea of renting a one-bedroom place for myself. I had arranged meetings with several potential roommates (from yes, Craigslist; I was new to the area and didn’t know anyone at all) and really liked a couple of them, but the one-bedroom place was absolutely gorgeous and within walking distance to my new job. However, it had a hefty price tag at $900 a month excluding utilities and it was unfurnished. Both of the places that I looked at with roommates were further away and were nice but not as beautiful as the other place, but were $400 per month including utilities. Estimating an extra $100 for utilities if I were to live by myself, that was a decision of $1000/month or $400/month. For a savings of $7200 a year, it was a no-brainer. Plus, because I was new to the area, I thought that having roommates would actually be a better choice, since they could potentially show me around and provide me with some companionship. I’m so grateful that I made that decision two years ago. Not only did I save $14,400 in two years (looking back on it, there’s no way that I could have afforded the one-bedroom place unless I completely removed any fun activities and travel from my life), I made several amazing friends (along with some cat companions that one of my roommates had!). Granted, I probably could have found other one-bedroom options cheaper than the $900/month apartment — that was just one place that I happened to stumble upon when I was visiting the area. None of my other options would have beaten $400 a month though. Even a savings of $100 a month on rent adds up to an extra $1200 per year. Another way that I cut down on housing expenses was by taking the smallest of the rooms, since the cost of the rooms in our 3-bedroom townhouse are pro-rated. The size difference of the room wasn’t substantial and I was able to save $300 per year, or $600 in total since I’ve been living down here. Again, it doesn’t sound like much, but those savings are more than enough to buy a ticket to somewhere within the U.S. or pay for a hotel and gas for a couple weekend getaways nearby!