This 28-Year-Old Spends $3,200 On Rent For A Studio, And It's Only Going Up — Here's What She Makes And What's Next

    "They just brought me my new lease...they want $3,444 a month. For my 450 sq. ft. studio."

    This post is part of a series to be more transparent with housing costs and pay in America. If you'd like to make the topic of money and housing a little less taboo, consider filling out this form to be featured. 

    Housing costs, rent costs, salaries, and pay — we all have one or the other, but rarely do we share them amongst one another. Yet in an ever-inflating housing market, rental market, and everything market (are your grocery bills also out of control?!), we could all use a little more transparency.

    A notebook with handwritten budget expenses and calculator on the side

    So, let's start slowly. We're starting a housing and money transparency series where we showcase people's homes, how much they pay for said home, how much they make, and any other interesting details (like their neat rock collection, the most precious thing in their home, the most expensive thing in their home, and, most importantly — their stories).

    "Welcome to BuzzFeed's Housing + Money Transparency Series"

    This week, we're featuring Kaitlin (Kait) Murray, a 28-year-old who rents a studio in Boston. Let's start with the basics:

    A closeup of Kaitlin Murray sitting on a wooden stool outside
    Graphic with bold text "RENT" next to an illustrated house
    The word "INCOME" in bold letters next to an illustrated money bag with a dollar sign

    Salary? $130k in last full-time job with TikTok, including base salary and bonuses. She’s currently living on an emergency fund and side jobs.

    Other streams of income? "Truthfully, that [$130k] wasn't enough to live where I live and fully enjoy myself, so I started dog-sitting multiple times a week/month. Sometimes, I'd make an extra $1,500–$2,000 a month just by doing that! I also post on TikTok and have gotten a few small checks from things like my Amazon storefront, but nothing big. My parents own a company called Murray Promotions, and I've been able to do a few freelance projects for them over the last couple of months, on top of a few small client projects."

    "Full transparency, though, I have been living on my emergency fund, for the most part, these past couple of months, and I want people to know that if you have a period of your life where you have to do that, that's okay! Consider yourself blessed if you have an emergency fund — shift your perspective."

    Sign with bold text "THE APARTMENT"
    A cozy home office with a small round table, a bench, floor lamp, and a view of city buildings through a large window
    The roof deck featuring an outdoor patio with furniture during sunset

    Ok, got all the background? Now let's get into the pad — this is what Kait sees when she first walks in through the door. Pretty nice, eh?


    Here's her bathroom, and how she maximized storage space:

    Comparison of bathroom items sourced from IKEA and Amazon displayed on shelves and countertop

    Here's her kitchen area, which she completed with this island to create more counter space:

    Kitchen island with bowls and a tray facing a living area with large windows

    And here's the rest of her kitchen, sans island:


    Next, her bed-"room," which is not really a room, and is kinda-sorta part of the kitchen:

    A minimalist bedroom with a circular frame headboard, striped blanket, bowl of fruit on the side table, and a lit candle

    And here's the view from her bed (and another view of the kitchen):

    Modern kitchen interior with a variety of dishes and cookware on the counter

    She makes the most of it, though! Her dad helped her mount her TV so she could swing it out and watch it in bed:

    Cozy living room with a fireplace on the TV screen, viewed through a round mirror
    "Living room: (and dining room and office)

    After Kait's kitchen-bedroom area, you enter her living room, complete with this lovely fireside TV, storage table, coffee, and bar:

    A TV displaying a fireplace video above a cabinet with bottles, a coffee machine, and framed photos on the wall

    ...and the dining "room":

    A cozy corner with a small round table, two benches, a floor lamp, and wall frames beside a window overlooking buildings

    ...and office:

    It's like a three-room-in-one setup...maybe even four? The couch pulls out to a bed (guest bedroom?):

    Person pointing to a cozy living room with a couch, TV, and a table with flowers

    She also has a very pretty bookshelf and a big selfie mirror spot (which probably helps open the room up!):

    Ok, now some fun stuff!


    "I really don’t own a ton of expensive things. I’ve never bought anything designer, per se. I believe it’s my bed. I treated myself to it for my 27th birthday from Crate & Barrel, and it is my entire personality. I believe it was $2,000."

    A dimly lit bedroom with an unmade bed, a nightstand with a lamp, and a vase of tulips

    "The thing I’d save in a fire would be my box of letters that my family and friends surprised me with when I decided to buy a one-way ticket and move across the country to Boston. I read them just about every week," Kait said.


    Overall, Kait said, "This space is perfect for one person. Obviously, I wish I had more space sometimes, but we do what we can with it." She also reminded people that while she could afford to live here with her old job, it was still a stretch, and she sacrificed some finances for a nicer place to live and community.

    Closeup of Kait

    And, if you're still hung up on how the hell she's spending over $3,000 for a studio, let's take it back a bit. When Kait moved from Louisville to Boston, she signed on at $2,650.

    Closeup of Kait

    When May 2022 rolled around, Kait's leasing office hit her with an increase to $2,900. Because Kait loved the community she found in the building, she decided to stay, and that's when she took up dog-sitting to make a little extra money each month.

    Then, when May 2023 hit, her leasing office taped another lease renewal to her door... This time? $3,200. Kait said, "'One more year, soak it up and move on. Pick up more dog-sitting opportunities if you love it this much.' That's what I told myself, and I re-signed."

    According to RentHop, the average studio costs $3,149 in Boston's Seaport District. The average studio in Boston costs $2,720, so the Seaport is considerably more expensive (but Boston is still costly overall). Rents have risen tremendously in the Seaport area in the past three years. There's been a 49.61% increase in the median rent for studios from 2021 to 2024 (from $2,273 to $3,400).

    So, while hearing about a $3k+ monthly rent for a studio is WILD, it's not uncommon in Boston's Seaport, a very expensive area to live in a big city. Kait's rent increases have been somewhat on par with the median in the area (which doesn't necessarily justify the increase — it just speaks to a bigger problem of rising rents). 

    In one video, Kait said, "It's one of the nicest areas in Boston. I understand that. I live in a high-rise, yes. It's a luxury building, but it doesn't justify what they're asking for, in my opinion." In another video, Kait added, "There's a major, major issue with price gauging. Your rent should not increase by almost $1,000 over three years."

    And now? Well, Kait's leasing office sent her a new rent increase notice — and this time, it's $3,444.

    So, Kait's moving out. She told BuzzFeed, "I just can’t handle it anymore. Even if I was making well over $200k a year, it just isn’t a smart move to keep spending this much on rent at my age."

    In another video, Kait also explained that the leasing office won't budge on negotiations, and it would be $11,500 to walk away from her lease, which ends in mid-June. "You have to give a 60-day notice, and then you have to pay two months after that 60th day, so it's basically four months rent."

    Closeup of Kait

    She continued, "Also, I turn 29 in September, and I just really don't want to have a roommate, but the US is in shambles right now, and I see so many people moving back in with parents, moving back in with roommates, and it's just sad. As much as I love my friends...I don't want to have to do that. But honestly, single people, I feel like we aren't gonna have a choice in the next couple years."

    Closeup of Kait

    As for what's next, Kait told BuzzFeed, "If I find a good, fulfilling job in Boston before my time is up here, I’ll move in with a roommate that I have lined up. We will be in a building again — we love the community aspect. Our goal is to stay under $4,200–$4,500, then split down the middle. (So $2,100–$2,250/person.)"

    She told BuzzFeed, "Part of me feels anxious sharing my story because I know cost-of-living, the job market, the economy, etc. are in shambles. I realize how blessed I am to be able to have lived the life I have had for the last three years."

    Kait taking a selfie

    She continued, "I guess the message I want to leave is just that it's okay to feel lost, it's okay to make mistakes, it's okay to ask for help if you've dug yourself into a hole or if you're battling any sort of mental health issues. There truly is no such thing as a wrong decision or rejection, only redirection."

    "You don't have to have it all figured out; you can try new things, explore, move, break up, blow your savings, make new friends, quit your job, switch career paths… If we knew exactly how things would play out, life would be extremely boring. You are not alone, and whatever choice you make, just know it's for a reason! You got this."

    That's it from Kait! Round of applause to her for being transparent about salary and rent (love to see it), opening up about her story overall, and reminding people they are not alone in life's crossroads. 👏

    If you like this series and are on board with more salary, rent, and housing transparency, consider filling out this form to be featured. Whether you have an average apartment, a designer pad, or an Amazon tiny home, we wanna see real people's places and hear their stories. So consider sending in — can't wait to hear from ya!