Photo (cc) by dougww
The following post comes from Debra L. Karplus at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.
You work, you save, and you diligently follow a budget. You pride yourself in the frugal lifestyle that your family has adopted. But no matter how tightly you manage your finances, your single biggest expenditure is related to housing – including rent or mortgage, homeowner’s insurance, real estate taxes, repairs and maintenance, and utilities such as heating and cooling, electricity, water, and sewer. But what if there were a way to reduce or eliminate the cost of renting or owning a home?
Transform your home into a source of income
Depending on the size and layout of your home, and your family’s desire for privacy, you may be able to rent out a spare bedroom or other unused parts of the house, such as a cozy attic or loft space or mother-in-law apartment in the back. This may be a possibility after one or more of your children have moved out and have abandoned their old bedroom, leaving it empty and ready for a new temporary occupant. Think of this opportunity as your own mini-bed-and-breakfast. Or if performing household chores is part of the agreement, this makes your place more like a youth hostel.
If you live near a university or a state capitol, you have a high probability of finding a network of young people seeking interim housing, perhaps for a semester or academic school year. College students often need housing, as do government interns or foreign exchange students. What an exciting way for your children to learn about other cultures while your family receives a stipend, which can sometimes be quite generous!
You’ll need to include this income on your federal income taxes, but some household repairs and improvements may be tax-deductible if, as the Internal Revenue Service requires, they are “reasonable and necessary.” Discuss with the family and crunch the numbers to determine if having this type of semi-permanent houseguest is right for you.
Adopt the ultimate minimalist lifestyle
Allow your adventurous spirit to live the life of a nomad.
Although you’d rather not be thought of as “homeless,” the life of a wanderer might suit you. This type of living situation may be more appropriate for retirees or singles, but depending on your family, it can be a reasonable alternative to having one place to call home and the many stresses of homeownership.
Clergymen and women, college professors, and people in certain other professions often take a sabbatical every seven years, bringing their family to a different area, near or far, for a year for study and renewal. They don’t want their home to be vacant and unmaintained. This is a great opportunity for your family to have very comfortable and spacious temporary housing. See if these opportunities exist where you live, or where you want to live.
Some jobs often don’t feel like jobs and may be your ticket to free housing. Becoming a professional house parent at a sorority or fraternity, dormitory, or other residential facility for young people can be a perfect living situation for singles and sometimes for couples and families. House parents typically are salaried in addition to having their own apartment inside the house or facility, and they usually receive meals too. Responsibilities typically include looking out for the well-being and safety of the residents and managing the house, such as ordering food or hiring people to perform repairs. And if you need to be away, there’s often a pool of substitutes who can fill in for you. You can become one of these substitutes as a dress rehearsal for this lifestyle.
Campgrounds and residential camps are also often looking to hire people to live on-site and provide some management. Or, some people find enough jobs as a house sitter to give up their own permanent housing. These types of housing may be great for you and may not necessarily be just short-term.
You may have seen some TV shows featuring people who live in their recreational vehicle. If you ever look inside one of these RVs, you’ll be amazed that the kitchen, bathroom, and living and sleeping space all fit together compactly inside this vehicle that cruises along the open road as it treks from place to place. Escape to the south in winter; head north in the summer. You’ll never need to check into a motel again.
So maybe you and your family are not ready to be inviting others to live in your home, nor are you prepared to sell all but your bare essentials to live the nomadic live. At some point, you may find your possessions to be more of a burden than an asset and you might choose to make a small or drastic change to your lifestyle. Keep dreaming.
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