6 Months in Basement. It does not worth the savings! Lessons Learned.

You want to save money. One of the ways to do so is to cut the expenses. If you live in a city and you are in your twenties I am 90% certain that you rent. This is your major expense. In Toronto, where I am from, the cost to rent is RIDICULOUSLY high. One bedroom apartment prices start at $2,200 /month. One bedroom… Start…

Whatever your goals are, you are determined to save some cash. You are willing to tighten belt for some time, so later you can live better. Do you save for the downpayment for your mortgage? If so – great! I encourage you to do so, so when you buy your own house – you pay your own mortgage, not someone else’s.

I used to rent the house not too far from the city. Great place: three stories, including basement; big fenced backyard; garage in a quiet safe family neighbourhood. Everything was great, besides one thing – the price. Lived there for a year and quickly got sick from paying off someone else’s mortgage. I decided enough and did not extend the lease for another year. I was going to scale down by finding something smaller and cheaper so I can safe more money faster. I moved into my buddy’s basement apartment. The price I agreed to pay was half the price I payed for the entire house. Never lived in basement before, I had no second thoughts about possible issues that could arise. “Anyways, I am here only temporary” – I told myself and moved in. The plan was to spend the winter there and move out as soon as the snow melt down. Not a long time, what can go wrong? I ended up occupying the shithole from November till May, 2020. Basement life for 6 months though me a few things that I MUST reflect on if I don’t want to fall back into the same trap again.

Lesson #1:
There is nothing more permanent than temporary.

Life happens and things that we plan almost never go according to the plan. COVID-19 happened and crushed almost all of my plans…

Lesson #2:
Don’t sign the long-term lease unless you absolutely have to.

If you decide to scale down and sacrifice your comfort for some period of time in exchange of money, do not tie yourself down to the shithole. You need to be able to pick up and leave at any time. Things will get ugly, you will get sick of it. When you reach the breaking point, there is nothing worse than feeling locked without a chance to change anything. No long-term leases, save your freedom.

Lesson #3:
You sacrifice your health.

You NEED the sunlight.
You NEED the fresh air.

You NEED warm place to live.

Those two are no-negotiable for your physical and mental well being. Few months into the cave, I’ve experienced what’s the basement life like and how it impacts my body.

  1. Resting Heart Rate. My normal RHR is 39-42 bpm during sleep. Living in the basement it became a norm to see RHR of 45 and up. Your body does not rest. Your body does not recover. Interesting fact: every time I slept elsewhere, I instantly saw the drop in resting heart rate.
  2. No Sunlight. There is no sunlight coming into the cave. It’s hard to tell in the morning if its day or night. I bought a few daylight lamps, which will turn on automatically each morning to awaken me. The last nail into the coffin was when the house owner put his backyard grill right against my tiny window, completely cutting any sunlight access. I didn’t tell him anything about that though, but probably should’ve as it bothered me. Living in a cave might work for a few weeks, not more. You NEED the sunlight, otherwise, vitamin D deficiency will start playing tricks on your mind and body. It did on me.
  3. Fresh air. Where do you think the water heater is located in the house? Central heating unit? Breaker box? I can tell you from my own experience – right beside your head. What do those gas heating appliances feed on, except electricity and gas? The air. Where is the air intake located? Exactly! In the basement. Living in the basement you get oxygen-deprived. What are the health implications of such living in such conditions? Also, not to mention that those appliances are noisy. The heater doesn’t have a schedule that it runs on. Day and night you will hear the machinery working. It is loud! Keep that in mind when you sing the basement lease.
  4. FREEZING cold. I spent the winter in the basement and I know exactly what it’s like. It was so cold that even my dog would sleep with his feel bent under him to stay warm. Sleeping in warm socks, pants and T-shirt became the norm. I would also put two blankets over to stay warm. Every morning was a struggle because you had to get out into the cold. My change of clothes had to be as fast as possible, otherwise, I would get the goosebumps from saying naked for more than 15 seconds. I don’t do well in cold, no-one does.
    Owner of the house was nice enough to get me the oil heater. It did absolutely no difference.

Basement Life is one of the major causes of Suicides and Depression.

*on my personal opinion =)

Lesson #4:
Child’s cry will make you INSANE.

Screaming Crying Baby

I love kids, don’t get me wrong however, I underestimated the power of a child’s cry. Little babies can’t talk, so anytime there is something wrong – they cry. I don’t know what’s a normal rate of them cry, but it seemed like the baby upstairs was crying no-stop. In the middle of the night, at 5 am, during the day. There is no schedule. Maybe they all cry so much or could be that parents are doing something wrong – not my business. Obviously, I have nothing against the child or parents, but if you try to put in few hours of concentrated work – it’s not going to happen. Earplugs don’t help. Noise-canceling headphones don’t help. Keep that in mind if you are looking to move into the place with small kids or babies.

Leeson #5:
It’s not worth the savings.

I’ve been thinking about getting out of the shithole for a while. I was not happy there and even my friends noticed the change in me. Quietly, all this negativity and coldness creep up on you and suck you in. ENOUGH! 6 months were enough for me to say enough and run away as fast as I could. I am not a picky man and live a pretty minimalistic lifestyle, however I cracked only after 6 months… A lot of people live like that for years! I genuinely feel for them. How long will you last?

Only after it moved out I realized how deep that hole had sucked me in. Leaving the shithole in my U-Haul I could not stop smiling. I felt such a relief! I am freeee! Now I live in a house, with big bright windows, backyard and lots of fresh air. Only three days as I’m here and I can’t stop enjoying it. I love it! I feel the energy comes back. The first night I slept above the ground, instantly my resting heart rate dropped to normal 39 bpm. I want to create, I am inspired to live. I smile to others and receive the smiles back. Huh, it feels like an escape from the prison of some kind… I am also grateful for a chance to chose the place to live. I realize that for many reasons, a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to get up and go so easily. That really sucks! I am sorry for those folks. However if you do have the opportunity to live in place that you like – don’t chose to save by compromising your living conditions.

It will cost you much more in terms of mental and physical health.

Nevertheless it was an experience and I learned from it. I think I did…
I am grateful for that period of my life because now I appreciate my new place a 100 times more. Now I know exactly where I don’t want to spend my life and what I need to remain happy and healthy.