Here’s how I saved $20K living out of my suitcase for a year


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A little over a year ago my boyfriend and I were on the verge of ditching our separate New York City leases to move in together.

While apartment hunting, however, we decided to press pause on the search and instead plan a journey that involved living in a new city within the United States ever month for a year.

We both have our own businesses and can work from home, so we figured why not work from anywhere?

The very first thing we did was get rid of 90 percent of our belongings, selling furniture, donating clothes, and saying goodbye to things that wouldn’t fit in one suitcase (per person) like a juice maker or a coffee machine. We packed the rest of our prized possessions up and stored them in the basement of his parent’s house and got moving.

A year and a half later, we are still traveling. We don’t have a lease of our own anywhere and instead, we find places to live every month through short-term rental companies, friends who are traveling out of town, or people who are looking for temporary subletters on social media.

When 2018 came to an end, I found myself eyeballing my spending for the year, noticing one big achievement of this adventure, I was able to save close to $20,000 by living out of a suitcase and not having a permanent mailing address of my own. Here’s how:

1. Rent

Depending on the city we lived in, we were able to find a short-term deal on a place to live, for just 30-days, for close to $2,000 total.

There were some places that were less expensive and some a little bit more. We were even able to stay in some cities for free, as long as we took care of our friend’s pets and plants as they took the month to travel.

On average, I spent $1,100 on rent a month. That was $750 less than I was spending when I lived in Manhattan for 7 years.

Total Savings: $9,000

2. Bills

Cable and electric costs can add up quickly, but those weren’t bills we were ever responsible for in our short-term stays. Usually the costs were already included in the rent or something the host fronted the bill for.

In Manhattan, I was spending $150 on electric and gas a month and $90 on cable and internet a month.

Total Savings: $2,880

Woman moving into her truckCourtesy of Jen Glantz

3. Clothing and household items

Perhaps the hardest part of living out of a suitcase is that whatever is in there is all you have. Making sure that my suitcase closed and was under the TSA weight limit meant that I was deterred from buying clothing, household items, books, and anything else that I would have to lug with me from place to place.

While it’s hard to predict how much I would have spent on those items If I was still living in New York City, my credit card bill from 2017 showed me that I spent upwards of $5,000 on purchases like the ones above.

Total Savings: $5,000

4. Vacations

The thrill of living in a new city every month kicked the idea of taking or planning a vacation. Before this adventure, I’d try to take 2-3 vacations a year, mostly within the United States.

That meant having to book airfare and find a hotel to stay in. On average, each of those vacations in 2017 cost around $1,000. Yes, with this adventure, money was spent on airfare, but was mostly funded with credit card points that I had acquired over the past five years.

Total Savings: $3,000

5. Little must-haves

I used to love buying candles and flowers to decorate my apartment with every month. It made living in an small, old Manhattan apartment more charming.

Being on-the-go and living in someone else’s apartment, however, nullified the the need to shop thanks to the unique feeling of getting comfortable in someone else’s space. I didn’t need to make my apartment feel like home anymore, I just reacclimated myself to feel comfortable in someone else’s home.

Total Savings: $600

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