Law School Discussion

Can we discuss the debt issue?

Can we discuss the debt issue?
« on: March 11, 2007, 11:47:24 PM »
I am so happy to have gotten into UC Hastings  :D, but when I looked into the that cost of living in the bay area it was a serious shocker. Its funny because I was in the Army living in the south and used to seeing nice houses for 100K or 2 bedroom apartments renting for $500 a month. Then I came back to Sacramento and was complaining about having to pay $900 for a 2 bedroom apartment, never realizing that that's NOTHING compared what it cost to live in the San Francisco Bay Area...which is only 90 minutes from me.  So, Hastings is about 10K cheeper then all of the other private schools I applied to, however its made up for plus some in cost of living. All this got me to thinking about the debt I will be in.

I just want to know everyone's thoughts on it because its hard to wrap my brain around at this point and I don't really have a clear idea of what the impact is going be after graduation. Anything thoughts?

Team Pam

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Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2007, 10:03:17 AM »
I would strongly recommend looking into living in the east bay and taking BART to school.  Some good friends of mine live in Berkeley (far away from campus but close to the BART station -- they walk to it every day and commute to the city) and have a beautiful and large 1br for under $1000/month.  Before that, they lived in a huge 3br in Oakland that was also very cheap.  If you're willing to live outside SF proper, the difference from Sacramento isn't nearly as dramatic.  And as a bonus, Berkeley has incredible restaurants (including the best pizza on the west coast).

Astro

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Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2007, 05:30:26 PM »
Team Pam is right.  You can find cheaper housing near the BART line all the way up the East Bay.  You don't want to live too far away (Walnut Creek/Concord is probably as far as you want to go) because it starts turning into a long trip, but if you're in or near Oakland, the ride is only 20-30 minutes, and Hastings is near the line as well, so it's almost a direct commute.

Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2007, 06:02:45 PM »
If you have a family, you're going to have a rough time for sure.  Not to be too negative, but my wife and I combined made about 145K last year and we rent a 730 sq. ft. apartment in Fremont (about an hour by BART from SF).  We drive a Honda Civic and live modestly.  I doubt that any amount of financial aid will provide you with a desirable living situation anywhere close to SF if you need more than a room to rent.  Unless you are in love with Hastings and really want to practice in the Bay Area, I would very seriously consider attending one of your other schools.  Salaries here are very high, but I know that I will never be able to afford to buy a house here that I would consider worth the price. Too many rogue millionaires and nouveau-riche drove up the prices.

Personally, I'm leaving my over 100K job and all my professional connections here to go to University of Alabama.  I have a baby now, and can't afford to stay in the Bay Area to go to school.  Weirdly, I can barely afford a crappy condo here, but I'll be buying my first house as a 1L in Alabama. 

All that aside, if you are committed to Hastings, hopefully the following tips can help:
1. Plan on buying a motorcycle or taking BART.  Traffic between Hastings and what you will be able to afford to rent will be HELL ON EARTH.  Some of the worst in the world, bar none.  Parking will be worse than that.  $20-$25 per day, if you can find it.  I believe the statistic is that in SF during the day, there are 3 cars for every parking space.
2. If you're an Army guy from the South, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you're conservative?  If you are, you will hate Berkeley.  The restaurants are great, but the extreme liberalism will drive you crazy even if you're somewhat liberal. 
3. Avoid anything cheap in Oakland, Richmond, Hayward, East Palo Alto, or the south side of SF (Bayview, Hunters Point, the Tenderloin).  These are high-crime areas, and you can be easily lured by the relatively cheap rent and OK-looking apartments.  For easy access to SF (within an hour), Daly City, San Bruno, Millbrae, and Redwood City are all fairly cheap and not extremely nasty.  If you live in the East Bay, there are a lot of choices, but it costs $4 in bridge toll per day (that's an extra $80 a month) or an extra $2-5 per day for BART when compared with cities on the Peninsula.
4. In my experience, debt load after graduation is roughly $500/month for every 30K borrowed.  I'm guessing you will need to max out your Stafford loans, and probably need PLUS loans as well.  The good news is that high-paying employment is plentiful for summer and winter breaks.

Hopefully this helps.  Feel free to email me directly demian23@stanfordalumni.org if you need any help, and I'll be happy to assist you.  Maybe you can give me some info on Tuscaloosa as well?

Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2007, 10:47:39 PM »
Yes I think BART will be a very good idea. I went to the law school forum in November and when I was leaving it took me over 30 minutes to go one block!! Everyone I've talked to raves about BART saying how convient it is, I'm just not used to the public transportation thing.

I'm also figuring that renting a room in the East Bay area may be my best best, finicially, I'll just have to stomach the 40 minute comute.

BTW Demian23...I'm not an Army "guy" I'm a Army "gal", and I'm not from the south, I'm from Sacramento and I'm very liberal  ;). Have you been to the south? I personally like it alot. I haven't actually been to Alabama but pretty much everywhere else. It will definately be a change for you if your used to the California life. The cost of living is way better and you will be able to afford a very nice house with land. The atmosphere is different, much more relaxed and the people tend to be warmer and kinder. It almost like a different culture and I suspect you'll either love it or hate it.

Yup, I'm sold on Hastings so thanks for the tips!

Astro

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Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2007, 10:51:43 PM »
As far as public transportation goes, BART is as fun as it gets.  It's not a bad commute at all, especially if you get a seat.  And it's slightly over 40 minutes from Walnut Creek, so I doubt it'll be that long of a commute for you.  You're probably looking at 20-30 minutes, like I said.


Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2007, 11:05:33 AM »
BTW Demian23...I'm not an Army "guy" I'm a Army "gal", and I'm not from the south, I'm from Sacramento and I'm very liberal  ;).

My bad!  I still think if you've ever shot a gun, you're too conservative for Berkeley.

As for renting a room, if this is an option, I would definitely stay in the city and save yourself the extra time and expense.  Rental rates for rooms in SF are $600-900, in the east bay, $400-$700.  Average savings of $200 monthly.  However, even the CLOSEST East Bay BART roundtrip is going to cost you $5-6 daily for a total of $100 - $120 monthly.  Roundtrip from my house is about $12 making it cheaper to live in the city.  Buy a scooter or motorcycle, and you'll be dialed in.

Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2007, 12:28:44 PM »
BTW Demian23...I'm not an Army "guy" I'm a Army "gal", and I'm not from the south, I'm from Sacramento and I'm very liberal  ;).

My bad!  I still think if you've ever shot a gun, you're too conservative for Berkeley.

As for renting a room, if this is an option, I would definitely stay in the city and save yourself the extra time and expense.  Rental rates for rooms in SF are $600-900, in the east bay, $400-$700.  Average savings of $200 monthly.  However, even the CLOSEST East Bay BART roundtrip is going to cost you $5-6 daily for a total of $100 - $120 monthly.  Roundtrip from my house is about $12 making it cheaper to live in the city.  Buy a scooter or motorcycle, and you'll be dialed in.

Thanks. You think investing in a scooter or motorcycle is good idea huh? Is that what alot of people do?

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Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2007, 12:56:12 PM »
I really think you should research the east bay still.  I don't get the feeling that you're "too conservative" for it at all, and I imagine BART would have long-term discounted passes like any other mass transit system.  There's a big difference in COL between Fremont (which is a yuppie Silicon Valley suburb) and Berkeley or Oakland, and there really are affordable and safe parts of Oakland.

Re: Can we discuss the debt issue?
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2007, 01:23:09 PM »
I imagine BART would have long-term discounted passes like any other mass transit system.  There's a big difference in COL between Fremont (which is a yuppie Silicon Valley suburb) and Berkeley or Oakland, and there really are affordable and safe parts of Oakland.

Not really.  $3 discount on a $48 ticket. $4 on a $64 ticket.  If you're on medicare or disability, you get a discount (I imagine you're probably not).  Gun carrying cops ride free.  http://www.bart.gov/tickets/types/types.asp

There's a big difference in COL between Fremont (which is a yuppie Silicon Valley suburb) and Berkeley or Oakland, and there really are affordable and safe parts of Oakland.

Again, not really.  The safe parts of Oakland are not any more affordable than Fremont, or anywhere else around the bay for that matter.  Bay Area real estate is almost uniformly super-expensive unless you live in a real hole.  Go for proximity if you're renting a room.  Trust me.  craigslist.com is the best place to shop for rooms, if you're not already aware of it.

And yes, a motorcycle or scooter is the way to commute no matter where you live.  $200 a year in insurance, $60 to register, 80 mpg., ignore traffic, park anywhere.  The only catch is that you need an M1 or M2 endorsement to your license.  These are easy enough to get, especially the M2 for the scooter.