The price of bed bugs: $4,100 (extermination not included)

By Emily Feldman  | May 2, 2011 - 7:47AM

Just as my student loan debt peaked at the end of my grad school studies, bed bugs invaded the 3-bedroom Astoria apartment I shared with two roommates. Thankfully, my landlord footed the extermination bill, sparing me and my two roommates from the heftiest single line item.

But through the whole ordeal--which included the initial infestation, a month of frenzied home remedies, 6 months of peace, an explosive resurgence, and two months of exterminator visits--I had to reach into my own pocket again and again.

Until now, I've avoided doing a thorough calculation of exactly how much the money the infestation cost, because, frankly, I knew it would be bad, and didn't want to know. I had always estimated that the total price tag was around $600, considering the hundreds of quarters I fed to laundry machines and cost of new furniture I paid for myself. But upon reexamination, I found a number of related expenses that I hadn't previously considered.  

The tally below does not include the immeasurable price of sleep deprivation--while starting a new job, no less--anxiety, severed relationships with roommates following bed bug stress and a year of my life spent treating bed bugs, apartment hunting, moving, furniture shopping, and getting settled again.

  • $18 Powders from hardware store (totally useless--I was such a novice) 
  • $12 Spray from hardware store (ditto) 
  • $100 bed bug mattress protector for my original bed 
  • $80 box spring protector for my original bed 
  • $50 bed bug pillow protectors 
  • $150 dry cleaning 
  • $90 laundry 
  • $250 new mattress (following the first sign of bed bugs, before we had consulted exterminators)
  • $2,000 in additional rent I’ve paid over the past 8 months, since I decided to abandon my cheap rent in favor of a fresh-start place that didn’t (as far as I know) have a history of bed bugs or evoke creepy memories. 
  • $250 moving fees 
  • $250 new, new mattress (which I bought when I moved to a new apartment. I was really serious about the fresh-start). 
  • $100 new bed bug cover for new mattress 
  • $250 new dresser (ditto) 
  • $500 guestimate of how much money I spent replacing clothing and other items I tossed throughout the ordeal

Total bed bug bill:  $4,100.

Luckily, my parents were able to help out a bit, by buying me one of the mattresses for Christmas, the dresser for my birthday, and covering my dry cleaning bill and moving truck fee out of pity.

But the rest ($3,200) all came out of the remnants of my student loan money, which I had intended to pay back. While I'm finally getting back on my feet, I still think it'll be a long while before I'm financially ready to do anything glamorous, like replace my futon with a couch.

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What every New Yorker should learn from the Nat'l Bed Bug Summit

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BrickUnderground's bed bug survival kit

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