Are architecture graduates able to afford living alone?


Just wondering how the finances would look for the average graduate student. I'm based in Sydney, Australia. 

Mar 1, 21 12:23 pm

I can't comment on Sydney however I was able to live alone, own a car, pay my student loans, and pay for my treatment of my type 1 diabetes when I first graduated in 2002. 

I had little savings and minimal retirement investments for the first few years though.  Also my apartment was 450 sf and only cost $700 a month so take this with a grain of salt.  

I'd assume that times have changed though and roommate's are probably needed now. 

Mar 1, 21 1:47 pm  · 

Probably not, Sydney is one of the most expensive places to live on Earth even more than New York or San Francisco. Rent has gotten really bad here on the coasts in the US where unfortunately a lot of the jobs are. Even single mid-level registered PA/PMs who don't have a spouse to share would be better off living with roommates in NYC. Live with roommates now and I'm looking to get out of the Northeast soon since it would take over 60% of my pay a month to live alone. And I'm not even in NYC/Boston.

Mar 1, 21 2:00 pm  · 

I couldn't survive on the wage I earned out of school working for a B-Grade Starchitect.  Left after three months and told them I was going into debt working there, they offered me a $100/month raise.  I left, got a job at a small firm earning a reasonable wage and was much happier.

Mar 2, 21 1:14 pm  · 
2  · 

I made $28K a year in 2002 for a firm in Duluth MN.

Mar 2, 21 2:00 pm  · 
1  · 

So the $100 raise would have taken me from $1,200.00/month to a whopping $1,300.00/month in 1989 ( all funds in CAN$) The job a moved to paid me $2,500.00/month.....I felt like a king!

Mar 2, 21 2:14 pm  · 
1  · 
atelier nobody


I was making about $25K in Minneapolis in '97. When I moved to Los Angeles at the end of that year and my new firm asked how much I wanted, I knew I'd need more in Los Angeles but had no idea how much more - I asked for $27K. That first year in LA was pretty tough, but, to their credit, at my first annual review I got an $8K raise (still the highest raise by % and in the top 3 by $ that I have ever gotten).

Mar 2, 21 3:36 pm  · 

My pay (I was hourly) increased rather quickly at this particular firm. I believe within three years I was making $38K.

I can't imagine how rough it would be to live in LA on $27K.  Eeeep! 

Mar 2, 21 3:52 pm  · 
atelier nobody

It helped that I am an LA native, so I knew where the cheap but safe pockets were (my last job in LA before moving to Mpls in '92 I started at $12K and was at $18K when I got downsized - the stories I could tell about working in that hellhole, but it was a bank, before I got into architecture).

Mar 2, 21 4:59 pm  · 
atelier nobody

Can't speak for OZ, being a Yank, but I lived with house-/flat-mates my first 3 years or so and have lived alone ever since. I even owned a house for a while, but then moved back to Los Angeles.

Mar 2, 21 1:49 pm  · 

Also US; when I first graduated, my friend and I swung a deal with another architect renovating his Victorian into apartments. Free rent in exchange for labor and living in the construction. After a year, I did something kids can’t do now; bought a cheap rowhouse in a sketch neighborhood and then lived in my own construction zone paying a mortgage. Flipped it, bought a bigger house and lived in the construction. That was the first 4 years after college; got married though on the 4th year and the wife appeared to have an issue with living in the middle of a renovation. Sad part is what I made more than triple the money on those two flips than I made as an architect over the same time period. You could do that now, but getting a loan won’t be easy.

Mar 2, 21 7:16 pm  · 
1  · 

It depends, how much do you love instant noodles?

Mar 3, 21 4:02 am  · 
1  · 

Your thread title and statement read differently. Do you mean a student still in school or someone who has graduated? 

Very different answers.... I would agree with everyone else in the US who said they could after graduating. I made enough money first year out of school to have my own place in LA, pay my loans, and live modestly.  

Mar 3, 21 4:09 am  · 

I lived in Chicago after getting an M Arch and it was a challenge to live alone, you need to set priorities, if you want to live alone then maybe you only go out for social dining and drinks once every other week. The other thing in cities that influences the cost, sometimes, is the commute distance, the longer the commute on a train or buss from the main business districts the lower the rent.  My strategy is to always get a 2 bedroom place so if you are out of work or in a financial pinch you can sublet.  Chicago, unlike the east or west coast cities is quite affordable, 2 bedroom apartments run in my neighborhood for $800-1300 a month including some utilities. You just have to make trade-offs such as not having central air conditioning or a dishwasher.

Also set yourself up for success and don't let your lifestyle get over your budget. Try to keep rent and other housing cost under 1/3 of the take home pay, spend 1/3 on paying down debts while also building up savings and the rest is for the little things in life that make up an active and engaged life. If you live in a city you don't really need fancy TV subscriptions or a very big place as you should, once we are past the pandemic, be out and about not sitting at home.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Mar 3, 21 8:20 am  · 

As a US architect working in Sydney currently, I can say the cost of living here in Sydney very high compared by US suburbs. With the average home price now at $1.3 million, and the average architect making 90k AUD (65k USD), It is not looking promising for new architect graduates. The astronomical cost of living here is the reason I am heading back to the US this year. NY seems cheap after living in Sydney.....

Oct 23, 21 7:18 am  · 

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