BEFORE YOU EVEN BEGIN TO READ THIS ARTICLE, just take a moment and try to add up how much money you’ve spent on rent in the past 5 years.
Five years ago I had just graduated from college and moved into a bedroom with my friend Daniela near Acadia National Park. From there, I went on to live in 6 different scenarios. The cheapest rent I paid was that first bedroom that I shared with D, it was $300 a month. The most expensive rent came a couple years later — $650 for a lofted bedroom with no door in a white-washed brick building in Portland’s East End. When I add up those two payments, plus all the others I made in between, I’ve probably spent about $43,000 on rent since I graduated. And that figure is probably low if you’re reading this in San Francisco or Manhattan.