$15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

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Anonymous User
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$15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:10 am

Feel free to correct these calculations. When I worked a job and made roughly $43k /year, I would go home with roughly 2/3s of that after federal and state taxes, social security, medicare, medicaid, etc (and I put nothing in 401k, no health insurance, etc). I will be making roughly $62k next year in DC, so assuming I am taxed the exact same as my previous job and do not take out any health insurance, etc (which I probably will take out though) I would be $41k after taxes, social security, medicare, medicaid, etc. My student loan bill will be roughly $26k for this year (on a 10 year repayment plan -- not doing IBR or a longer payment plan). So that roughly leaves me with $15k to live off (probably a fairly optimistic number). Is it realistic to make it in DC with covering rent, food, car insurance, and everything else with $15K? I'm okay with living in the ghetto (to a reasonable degree; not okay with roaches and shit like that though). I guess worst case scenario, I can get a gun and some bulletproof armor (lol ... I actually do got a buddy who got out of prison a year ago who can hook it up with all that)... I'm hoping I don't have to get a 2nd job to make ends meet (I'm dead set on doing a 10 year repayment plan (and hopefully paying it back in less than 10 years), so there's no extending that). Thoughts?

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EdmundBurke23
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby EdmundBurke23 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:21 am

It depends on how much of a trooper you wanna be.

Apparently this dude made it pretty well with what I would guess is less than 15k/year:

http://www.salon.com/life/pinched/2009/ ... g_in_a_van

09042014
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby 09042014 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:17 am

Is this me posting from the future?

I doubt you can survive on 15K/year. Step 1) is ditching your car, get used to public transit.

Renzo
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Renzo » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:42 am

Well, depends what you mean by "make it."

The national averaged federal poverty level is about $10k for one person, although DC's a pretty expensive place. So if you mean some bare modicum of shelter and food; yeah, you can probably do it. But if you mean can you have a car, a cell phone, and a wardrobe to wear to work? Fuck no.

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lisjjen
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby lisjjen » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:54 am

How many hours a week are you working? If you don't need to work ridiculous hours, you can cut down on living expenses tremendously by living in Maryland or Virginia and taking the metro in. Craigslist would be your buddy for that.

Also, ditch the car. And hopefully you're living out far enough that you can shop at a Giant or something like it instead of the shops in D.C. You'll have to keep a wary eye out for sales online to buy your wardrobe, and no smartphone for you.

(Feel free to ask any more questions. I worked on the hill before applying to LS)

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:08 am

Desert Fox wrote:Is this me posting from the future?

I doubt you can survive on 15K/year. Step 1) is ditching your car, get used to public transit.


I'd rather live in a car than get rid of either of them. Love my cars.

Renzo wrote:Well, depends what you mean by "make it."

The national averaged federal poverty level is about $10k for one person, although DC's a pretty expensive place. So if you mean some bare modicum of shelter and food; yeah, you can probably do it. But if you mean can you have a car, a cell phone, and a wardrobe to wear to work? Fuck no.


Shit, I do need all of this stuff though. I have to wear suits to work on a large number of days, a cell phone is necessity and I won't get one from work. Sounds like I may be needing to get a 2nd job ::eek:: What do other law students do that are in DC making $60k /year? ... It's weird because $60k isn't a half bad salary for just freshly leaving school, but it leaves me with so little money after law school loans. It's such bullshit that my school's LRAP isn't going to cover any of my loans (which are all a result of money I paid to them) next year.


lisjjen wrote:How many hours a week are you working? If you don't need to work ridiculous hours, you can cut down on living expenses tremendously by living in Maryland or Virginia and taking the metro in. Craigslist would be your buddy for that.

Also, ditch the car. And hopefully you're living out far enough that you can shop at a Giant or something like it instead of the shops in D.C. You'll have to keep a wary eye out for sales online to buy your wardrobe, and no smartphone for you.

(Feel free to ask any more questions. I worked on the hill before applying to LS)


When I interviewed, the current clerks were saying roughly 45 hours a week, but I’m going to assume more than that in the beginning when I’m learning stuff. Ideal would be to try and live like a drunken idiot and have a blast in DC if at all possible (I’m alright with a lot of pre-gaming to save $$). I guess if there’s public transportation to get me out of DC after bars and stuff like that close, it wouldn’t be too bad living in Maryland or Virginia. Does the metro run that late?.

I really can’t ditch the car. Cars are my biggest hobby and I like my car. I can just not drive it to and from work though and try and save on gas like that.

The cell phone plan isn’t too bad. Right now I’m on a grandfathered t-mobile plan where I get 1000 anytime mins and unlimited data for $25 /month and I just use google voice to add unlimited text. So that’s only $300 /year.

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lisjjen
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby lisjjen » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:When I interviewed, the current clerks were saying roughly 45 hours a week, but I’m going to assume more than that in the beginning when I’m learning stuff. Ideal would be to try and live like a drunken idiot and have a blast in DC if at all possible (I’m alright with a lot of pre-gaming to save $$). I guess if there’s public transportation to get me out of DC after bars and stuff like that close, it wouldn’t be too bad living in Maryland or Virginia. Does the metro run that late?.

I really can’t ditch the car. Cars are my biggest hobby and I like my car. I can just not drive it to and from work though and try and save on gas like that.

The cell phone plan isn’t too bad. Right now I’m on a grandfathered t-mobile plan where I get 1000 anytime mins and unlimited data for $25 /month and I just use google voice to add unlimited text. So that’s only $300 /year.


Rather you drive them or not, cars are effing expensive. It's not just gas, it's stuff like oil changes, insurance, parking, etc. Is there anywhere you can leave it for one year? There is a fun night life in D.C. but it can get spendy. Pre-gaming is a good idea. Public transit + pre-gaming is an even better idea - you can still ride so long as you're not noticeably drunk. As far as how late public transit goes it all depends. A lot of the metros keep running until 2am. I was all the way out in Annandale because I found a room in a townhouse for $250/month and I could still catch a bus back at 11pm. But keep in mind that Annandale is really far out. The guys in my office joked that I probably needed a passport to get into work.

Also, where is the clerkship?

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:24 am

lisjjen wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:When I interviewed, the current clerks were saying roughly 45 hours a week, but I’m going to assume more than that in the beginning when I’m learning stuff. Ideal would be to try and live like a drunken idiot and have a blast in DC if at all possible (I’m alright with a lot of pre-gaming to save $$). I guess if there’s public transportation to get me out of DC after bars and stuff like that close, it wouldn’t be too bad living in Maryland or Virginia. Does the metro run that late?.

I really can’t ditch the car. Cars are my biggest hobby and I like my car. I can just not drive it to and from work though and try and save on gas like that.

The cell phone plan isn’t too bad. Right now I’m on a grandfathered t-mobile plan where I get 1000 anytime mins and unlimited data for $25 /month and I just use google voice to add unlimited text. So that’s only $300 /year.


Rather you drive them or not, cars are effing expensive. It's not just gas, it's stuff like oil changes, insurance, parking, etc. Is there anywhere you can leave it for one year? There is a fun night life in D.C. but it can get spendy. Pre-gaming is a good idea. Public transit + pre-gaming is an even better idea - you can still ride so long as you're not noticeably drunk. As far as how late public transit goes it all depends. A lot of the metros keep running until 2am. I was all the way out in Annandale because I found a room in a townhouse for $250/month and I could still catch a bus back at 11pm. But keep in mind that Annandale is really far out. The guys in my office joked that I probably needed a passport to get into work.

Also, where is the clerkship?


Wow, $250 /month is incredibly cheap. How much did that come out to with utilities and everything else? How many roommates was that with? How far away is annadale from DC exactly? … Also, dumb question, but how do you go about finding roommates in a new location, such as annadale? (I really don’t know anyone out there and it’s not exactly like law school where you just find other law students from the school’s resources, but I clearly am going to need roommates out there).

The clerkship in downtown DC. I’d rather not say which court.

Thanks for your help

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lisjjen
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby lisjjen » Mon Mar 28, 2011 5:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:Wow, $250 /month is incredibly cheap. How much did that come out to with utilities and everything else? How many roommates was that with? How far away is annadale from DC exactly? … Also, dumb question, but how do you go about finding roommates in a new location, such as annadale? (I really don’t know anyone out there and it’s not exactly like law school where you just find other law students from the school’s resources, but I clearly am going to need roommates out there).

The clerkship in downtown DC. I’d rather not say which court.

Thanks for your help


So full disclosure, I was staying with my cousin and their roomates. But that's the point. To get a really low price, you have to know somebody. I was offered a room at $500/month out of Georgetown by a friend but I didn't take it because I was going to be leaving in a month anyways. As far as finding roomates amongst strangers, Craigslist works well, but you have to be in the city. You just find somebody, call them up and then go visit the place and meet your possible roomies. DO NOT. NEVER EVER EVER take a room without seeing it or meeting with the other members of the house. I'd also say to be careful before you say you're OK living in a super sketchy place. I knew a couple of people who got robbed - that's why I asked. 10 blocks from Union Station is a pleasant walking distance. 2 blocks from some of the parts in NE DC is terrifying.

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby LurkerNoMore » Mon Mar 28, 2011 6:25 am

If you are clerking in DC, i assume you are going to BigLaw after?

If that's the case, look long term on your debt. You don't need to start paying your loans until January. Your clerkship will be 1/3-1/2 over by then, no?

If you have a big law job, then look into stretching out your loans to get you through your clerkship. As long as it it won't jack up your interest rates, there is really no downside to putting yourself on a longer repayment plan if you have self-discipline. Pay less for the 6-9 mos before your BigLaw job starts, and then switch back to the original 10 year repayment amount plus a couple hundred extra to cover the few mos that you couldn't swing that.

If you don't have BigLaw lined up, then, yeah, something's going to have to give. You are either going to need to accept that your loans won't be gone in 10 years, or are going to have to make some serious sacrifices elsewhere, including giving up your hobby.

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Patriot1208
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Patriot1208 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:03 am

You want to keep multiple cars in DC? You are insane.

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Wholigan
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Wholigan » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:29 am

1) You are nuts if you are going to try to stay on a 10 year payment plan and live on what's left if you have a firm job lined up after your clerkship. Just go on a longer plan and pay as much as you can afford once you get your firm job and you can still get it paid off in less than 10 years.

2) You can deduct $2500 of your student loan interest and probably take some tuition deductions for tax year 2011 as well. In addition, your gross income isn't going to be too high since you will only be earning for 4 months or so of 2011. So you should get your tax witholding made as low as you possibly can, which may bump your take home pay by a couple thousand total.

3) Even given point #2, you are probably going to have to either give up your car hobby, go on a long-term payment plan, or live in one of your beloved cars.

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby ndirish2014 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:57 am

IBR was designed for people like you.

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samsonyte16
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby samsonyte16 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:14 am

As a current DC resident, I can tell you that living on 15k a year is virtually impossible.

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lastch2
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby lastch2 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:16 am

15k in a big city is definitely doable, but it can suck a lot. however, 15k with the attitude of 1)a party life-style and 2) a rigid, inflexible attitude is impossible. flexibility is key to living on the cheap...so when it comes time to pay rent and you don't have the money because it's been spent on drinks and transportation (yes, public transportation costs money and multiplied everyday adds up) then doing things like defering loans and selling cars are a must. it can't just be you announcing to DC that you're going to keep everything you want the way you want it and expect a life like that. also, any reason why IBR isn't an option??

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:28 am

You will live like a pauper, but you will live, especially if you ditch the car. Seriously, you dont need a vehicle in DC. The Public transportation system here gets you practically everywhere you need to go, but if you want wheels I would suggest owning/renting a bike or Zipcar.

If you can find a room with paid utilities and roomies you should be fine if you keep the rest of your direct costs down (food, cell phone, etc.). But the better idea would be to commute in from VA or MD and save yourself the cost of DC rent.

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby sundance95 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:45 am

Probably not possible to do 15k a year in DC proper unless you are going to live somewhere really sketchy. It's absurd to want multiple cars in DC. If you don't mind living in NOVA or MD, then it's possible, but then you are going to pay a shitload for either parking in the city or transit to get there. Also, you'll be living with roommates so you probably won't have two parking spaces, so look forward to parking tickets, etc. Sorry about your hobby but if you want to live on 15k a year it's not going to happen with two cars.

lisjjen wrote:Public transit + pre-gaming is an even better idea - you can still ride so long as you're not noticeably drunk even if you're completely shitfaced.

FTFY.

IMO, TCR for you is to live in a place with roommates in either Arlington or Alexandria where you can walk to Metro. Most things are cheaper in NOVA, but you really don't want to deal with a metro to bus commute, for two reasons. First, it sucks. Secondly, the transit system here is whack and there's no transfers between buses and subways, so it costs a lot more.

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Big Shrimpin » Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:47 am

samsonyte16 wrote:As a current DC resident, I can tell you that living on 15k a year is virtually impossible.



Not too far from the truth. I skate by (barely) on like 17ish/year. I split rent with another person in a decent neighborhood (read, nowhere near NE) and pay around 800ish/month (everything included). Since I enjoy going out with friends on the weekends, PB&J, cereal, and soup have become regular menu items. Also, having a car in DC (unless parking is included in your rent) for that price is not going to happen.

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Borhas
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:29 am

Shit, I do need all of this stuff though. I have to wear suits to work on a large number of days, a cell phone is necessity and I won't get one from work. Sounds like I may be needing to get a 2nd job ::eek:: What do other law students do that are in DC making $60k /year? ... It's weird because $60k isn't a half bad salary for just freshly leaving school, but it leaves me with so little money after law school loans. It's such bullshit that my school's LRAP isn't going to cover any of my loans (which are all a result of money I paid to them) next year.


wardrobe? go to goodwill
cellphone? $30/month ought to cover it
alcohol? Aristocrat in a flask
car? how about a moped?
rent? live in the ghetto (or w/ some GMU students in NOVA)

you could definitely make it, even have some fun with it (well that might be a stretch)

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sundance95
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby sundance95 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:36 am

Borhas wrote:alcohol? Aristocrat in a flask

Such a good call. My flask is my best best friend when I go out-I fill it with half decent scotch or bourbon and save $$$$$$$.

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loblaw
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby loblaw » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:39 am

As a resident, I think that it would be tremendously difficult to do that, and next to impossible if you want to live comfortably.

Having a car in DC actually sucks. The DC DMV is so effed up that I actually spent 3 hours in JAIL because of an "administrative error" that resulted in the suspension of my license without my knowledge. This took a tremendous amount of energy for me to rectify. The DMV is seriously horrible. Also, people ask you for rides all the time.

I know you said you probably wouldn't, but please, do not refuse health insurance to save money. Try to do a high-deductible HSA if it's an option. It costs far less in premiums, you often have all preventative care for free, and if you become seriously injured or ill you will not end up completely screwed.

Also, DC socializing and lots of networking tends to revolve around happy hour. Good deals can be had, but it is still not cheap.

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Wholigan
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Wholigan » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:59 am

loblaw wrote:I know you said you probably wouldn't, but please, do not refuse health insurance to save money. Try to do a high-deductible HSA if it's an option. It costs far less in premiums, you often have all preventative care for free, and if you become seriously injured or ill you will not end up completely screwed.


+1

As someone with work experience involving medical liens, I can assure you that you really want to heed this. If you were a 22 year old college graduate making $43k a year with no health insurance, a hospital might have agreed to write off your debt if anything bad happened and you needed costly medical treatment. Now, as a recent law graduate, they will see "future earning potential" all over your file. It's bad enough you are close to $200k in debt for law school. You don't want to add another $100-$150k on top of that because something unexpected happens and you have to be hospitalized for a few days.

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Borhas
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:20 am

sundance95 wrote:
Borhas wrote:alcohol? Aristocrat in a flask

Such a good call. My flask is my best best friend when I go out-I fill it with half decent scotch or bourbon and save $$$$$$$.


yup, and I've never been called out on it either (well not by employees anyway)

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AreJay711
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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby AreJay711 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:36 am

I didn't read the whole thread but you cannot live as a lawyer in DC with 15K. Move that shit to 30 year repayment and put any extra money you have toward the loan.

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Re: $15k -- realistic to live in DC with that?

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:36 pm

Yes, if you can carpool for free from South Dakota.




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