This grad student took 238 flights from Los Angeles to San Francisco to avoid paying rent

A graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, has given the term “super commute” a whole new meaning. He does this in a big way (or a trip, if you prefer) to avoid the sky-high cost of living in the Bay Area.

Bill, the student, took 238 flights back and forth from Los Angeles to San Francisco during the 2022-23 school year as part of his master’s programme in transportation planning.

He has spent the same amount of time on his travel as 52.75 days, or more than seven weeks around the clock, this includes time in the air, at airports, and driving back and forth. He flew more than 92,000 miles and usually got up at 3:30 am to catch his planes.

Bill, who ‘fell in love with transportation’ as a child, wrote about his sky-high lodging strategy in a now-viral Reddit post and listed all of his costs on Flyertalk, an online group for frequent flyers.

“This is probably one of the craziest things I’ve done in my life,” he said on Reddit. “I’m so glad I didn’t miss a single class. That in itself is a miracle.”

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An ‘epic journey.’

Bill says that when he heard he got into UC Berkeley, he told his friends that he might fly to school “just to save money and avoid paying Bay Area rent.”

They thought he was making fun of them, but Bill could see it was true.

He looked into the cost of student living near the Berkeley campus and found that a single room would cost him around $1,600 a month, plus utilities and the lease for a year, even though his graduate programme was only eight months long.

Bill’s total living costs for a year would be around $20,400 if he paid an expected $100 monthly for utilities on top of his rent. That’s before the cost of graduate tuition, fees, and student health insurance for California residents is about $27,300, plus other personal costs like food and transportation. However, if he ate at airport food courts and counted his trip to and from them, the cost of food and transportation might be the same.

But Bill says that going to school only cost him $5,592.66 because of his “crazy idea” and a mix of frequent flier points, airline deals, credit card hacks, and intelligent ways to book tickets. So, in the end, he saved between $12,000 and $15,000.

But he also gave up $10,550 in possible income because of the number of days he spent on his journey. At $25/hour, he could have earned that much.

Even though he was saving money by flying less, some climate-conscious Redditors didn’t like it. One said, “Climate change loves this guy,” and another said, “Bro personally added a degree to the world temperatures.”

Bill says he wouldn’t tell anyone to try an “epic commute” like that. He says that the part about saving money was just him trying to persuade himself but that “the real incentive is the cool story and amazing trip.”

Here are some easy ways to lower your living costs that won’t hurt the environment or make you wait forever in a TSA queue.

Finding a flatmate to split costs is one of the easier ways for renters to save money. Even though you’ll lose some privacy, you’ll save a lot of money to pay off debt or even get your first home.

If you have little money, you might also have to give up on where you live. Usually, rent will be cheaper the farther away you are from a big school (like Bill’s) or the city centre.

One person who replied to Bill’s post on Reddit said, “You could have lived a little farther from campus or found a flatmate. It’s unbelievable to burn through miles like that.”

Your journey will be longer if you live farther from school or work, but it won’t be as long as Bill’s 8-hour round-trip daily.

It’s also essential to stick to your budget for living. The “30% rule” is a famous budgeting rule that says you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing costs, such as rent, utilities, and insurance.

If the idea of getting a flatmate doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways to make money that can help you pay for your rent.

For example, if you have some spare money, you can always invest it in real estate and make a little extra money.

In the past, you had to spend thousands of dollars to do that. There are easy ways to invest online that take muchlittle money to get started.


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