04 February 2013

Hackbright Living Costs Q&A with Anonymous

This comment was left anonymously, and I'd like to address it in a post:

On average, how much would it cost for living expenses in SF for 3 months? I know it's expensive but any approx number would help. Did any of the students live together in hacker houses to save on housing costs? I want to apply so badly but don't think I have enough saved to live in SF. I'd hate to apply, get in then worry +24/7 about money and not be able to focus completely on the learning.
First, let me say that no one in our session lived together. I think a few asked about living arrangements, but nothing was ever decided and everyone found their own accommodations, with some living outside of San Francisco (from places accessible via public transportation--across the Bay or down in the South Bay) to save a bit.

If you rent a room, you're probably looking at $1000 or more just for renting a room, and you'll need a bed, so unless you get lucky and find a furnished place, let's add $100 for a mattress. Plus another $100 (actually, I've lived on much less) for food and $4 for Muni bus transportation per day, which equals out to about $200 for the duration of the program. People who prefer to live alone and rent studios are paying upwards of $2000 these days. My parents' monthly house payment is less than a typical room costs in San Francisco, and I used to pay about $210 to rent a room in Germany, so I know how freaking scary it is coming from much cheaper places.

I'm going to assume you want to go the most inexpensive way, so in short, here's the math for three months:

$15,000 tuition *UPDATED 26 November 2013
$3,000 housing
$300 food
$200 transportation

$18,500 total *UPDATED 26 November 2013

That is a large number--larger than the amount I had in my bank account when I started the program.
Despite the scariness of the living costs, I would suggest that you consider the future. In four-ish months, you'll have a job that will pay off all of Hackbright and your living expenses in a couple of months, even while you're still paying rent and buying food at San Francisco prices. And if you get hired at one of Hackbright's partner companies, then you will get your tuition back. (Though honestly, I keep thinking that it's funny how intent I was on getting my tuition back, because I could have gone anywhere and just asked for more money that would have paid it off.)

You don't have to go and get married like I did, but take out some loans from banks and people. Or go rob a bank (well, actually, I don't suggest doing that). I was scared, I did it anyway, and the payoff has been amazing--financially, professionally, mentally, socially, etc. Asking for a loan seems far-fetched. But you'll never know until you try.

Another suggestion I've been giving people is to ask their companies to sponsor them, and then make a deal about coming back as a developer. There are definite advantages to this plan, and it's arguable because both of you win: the company gets some tax refund that I don't know anything about as well as a future female developer to make them look good, and you can go through the program without all that worry.

My friend Lydia worked part-time at a pie shop while she did Hackbright. Sometimes that meant that she had to leave a little bit early for a shift, but mostly it meant she had busy evenings and weekends and we got occasional pies. I don't know how she did it, but props to her! She'll be starting at a company she worked at before Hackbright, but in a different department altogether--I'm sure that feels great!

So, dear anonymous, know that you're not alone in being scared. But this is a jump of faith that is very worth it. If you get in, please do whatever you can to make it work financially, and Hackbright will work for you.

1 comment:

  1. This is @Liddy_Pierce giving an SF rent update: http://sf.curbed.com/uploads/SF-Infographic.png