Author Topic: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?  (Read 7291 times)

Exhale

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Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« on: June 07, 2015, 10:25:16 AM »
Have you made shared housing work for you? If so, what were the factors/elements that lead to the success?

I live in an expensive city and will continue to do so until FIRE (due to my job). To reach FIRE in this city I need to be in shared housing. Recently I've been toying with the idea of renting a nice house near the main university in town and then renting out the extra bedrooms to international faculty/students so that the house is affordable (and I get to live in a nice place).

I already know of a couple of people who have been able to do this in such as way that they live rent free. Actually it's not "free" since they pay their rent by taking care of the house, covering rent should someone bail, handling all of the house bills, offering occasional tutoring, etc.

I can see pros (saving money, live in a nice home, able to set house rules) and cons (dealing with multiple housemates, less alone time at home). I have a great network so getting renters that wouldn't be an issue. Also, I feel drawn to doing this because I've been an international student and would've loved to have a great place to live near school where I could live with a local/meet other locals.

However, I value my alone time and not sure if the social demands of this housing arrangement would be worth the savings. Then again that may be a silly point given that I currently live in a house with a housemate (although living with one introverted housemate who handles bills/maintenance is much different from having multiple housemates and me handling bills/maintenance). I have lived in shared housing for many years and do enjoy most aspects of it. My sense is that if I had a master bedroom with my own bath it could work.

In any case, I welcome your feedback and advice as I figure out what kind of shared housing will yield the most benefit for me as I make my way to FIRE.

surfhb

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2015, 10:53:19 AM »
Without a roommate I figured my FIRE date would be put off by a good 5 years.    It's the only way for me to achieve my 50-60% savings rate.

What about a home purchase and renting out the extra rooms?

Exhale

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2015, 11:00:14 AM »
What about a home purchase and renting out the extra rooms?

I don't have the funds to afford the crazy prices here. My priority is FIRE and then move to a LCOLA.

MBot

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2015, 12:30:23 PM »
We go through the university international homestay program. They pay $650/mo directly from the university to us as room and board, treat you as a "homestay parent" with house rules and a contract you go over with the student. (Curfew, chores, etc). And either you or the student can request a change every four months for any reason, but generally they will work to resolve issues first. But it is flexible if you have a change in living situation or simply decide you need a break. It is also tax free since it is a stipend and not rental income. For the meals you generally provide a "serve your own" breakfast and lunch and eat together for dinner. If you are gone you make sure there are frozen leftovers or meals for dinner.

Our mortgage is $608, so this works out well. 

Also, I find international students spend more time in their room and need to be encouraged/invited out into common space once in a while. Canadian housemates tended to spend many hours in common space, which was much more draining for my husband and I as introverts. 
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 12:33:13 PM by MBot »

surfhb

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2015, 12:56:50 PM »
What about a home purchase and renting out the extra rooms?

I don't have the funds to afford the crazy prices here. My priority is FIRE and then move to a LCOLA.

Yeah....me too. 

Maybe consider investing in a property outside your area?   With good due dilligence and some patience it would be possible to hurry up that FIRE date

mozar

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2015, 01:25:04 PM »
The hardest part for me has been finding people that I have enough in common with that we can deal with each other. People are shocked that they can't watch TV in the main living area. Also my last roommate moved out because she couldn't deal with the fact that I wouldn't let her be a hoarder.
I'm an introvert too, I would rather have to share space sometimes and have it be awkward then FIRE later.

Megma

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2015, 03:23:39 PM »
Sharing is more or less working for me. My bf and I rent out the other room in our house to someone we found on Cl, he's been living with us for just a year now. Yes it's annoying sometimes, there is someone leaving things around or in the way in the kitchen but overall the money is worth the minor annoyances to me. I'm using the money to save for my first rental property.

Exhale

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2015, 03:36:35 PM »
We go through the university international homestay program. They pay $650/mo directly from the university to us as room and board, treat you as a "homestay parent" with house rules and a contract you go over with the student.

How much did your grocery expense go up? Was food ever an issue (e.g., student wanted something different or more)?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 03:47:39 PM by Exhale »

Exhale

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2015, 03:46:03 PM »
The hardest part for me has been finding people that I have enough in common with that we can deal with each other...I would rather have to share space sometimes and have it be awkward then FIRE later.

Sharing is more or less working for me. Yes it's annoying sometimes...but overall the money is worth the minor annoyances to me.

Thank you mozar and Megma - I'm thinking along the same lines. I already have low rent, but if I could find a way to live rent free I could reach FIRE two years earlier.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 03:48:10 PM by Exhale »

thedayisbrave

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2015, 05:06:03 PM »
I've lived in shared housing more or less ever since moving out of my parents place. 

Yes, it can be annoying.  I am an introvert as well, but I know that about myself so I screened carefully/made it clear to potential roomies what I'm like to live with.  We don't have a TV/cable (both of them were OK with it) and I spend most of my time in the common area but it's worth it IMO.  I own, and rent out the rooms. 

I find that even though it does cause annoyances they're usually minor.  I tried living alone briefly and I turned into the biggest hermit ever.  I'm still hermit-y here but it's a lot better, and not having to pay rent allows me to save even more.  I plan to continue to do it until I get married.  I do have my own bathroom though - that's pretty non negotiable.

Megma

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2015, 05:08:11 PM »
I also said this on another similar thread, but I also advise a month to month lease, especially if you don't really know them. If you don't like them, ask them to move out, if they don't like you they can leave and you find someone else. Better to try a few times and live with someone you get along with ok.

I'm also not an introvert as some have said, so maybe it's less of an issue for me to have less alone time.

KMMK

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2015, 05:39:04 PM »
Yes, I'm an introvert and I currently share a house with two other women and the 9 yr old child of one of them. I like it a lot more than I expected to, mostly because I get along very well with one of my roommates, we're all very easy going, and go out a lot.

Things that make it work well:

- I'm the room subletter, not on the lease. I don't think I'd ever want to be the one on the lease and need to have roommates to afford it. There are too many downsides: if you can't find roommates you have to pay the whole rent, if your roommates are bad with money this affects you, I can theoretically leave whenever I want, with no notice (which I wouldn't actually do, but could if the situation was horrible). The roommate who is on the lease isn't very good with money. But this doesn't affect me (much - we did have the power shut off and I had to deal with that). If it was the reverse and she couldn't come up with her share of the rent that would suck. You also are in the position of possibly evicting people.
- We all have our own bedrooms and it's a pretty big house, so we can choose to be alone or be in the common areas. Unlike living with a romantic partner, if you don't feel like hanging out you just walk away and do your own thing. There aren't any hard feelings, or someone wondering if they've offended the other or anything emotional like that.
- No one is really clean or really messy. No one has issues with anger or drugs or drinking. No one is particular noisy or loud or sensitive.
- I actually like my own roommate and we do things together sometimes, which is nice. I'm actually quite lonely today because she hasn't been home all weekend. It's a bit too quiet around here.
- We share most things that are placed in the common areas, except for food. Everyone is careful about only eating their own food.
- We both do things like garbage taking out and cleaning when it seems needed.

So yeah, this situation works for me. I'm not sure I'd want to go back to living totally alone. I like the sense of community. Maybe if I was working with people all day long then I'd want to come home to my own apartment, but I think coming home and staying in my bedroom would be good enough.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2015, 09:13:24 PM »
I did it for five years. It had its good points and its bad points.

I did reach a 55% savings rate towards the end (after discovering MMM).

I moved into an apartment on my own last year, and don't regret it. Been there, done that with share housing.

One thing I found when in a sharehouse versus an apartment on my own is that I kept a lot more stuff in my bedroom (ie: that was where I had my computer and stereo and the like), and spent lots of time there. Now it's all separated, which is far better for my sleeping habits.

My rent did more than triple when moving from my (admittedly very cheap) share house to my own apartment, though.

Lyssa

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2015, 01:41:07 AM »
Following.

larmando

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2015, 03:31:18 AM »
We've shared our guestroom via airbnb. This has worked well for us as tourists tend to be at home and cook at home a lot less, thus leaving us most of the space we need. This also means we use the guestroom to actually host friends and relatives when they come. Finally temporary guests don't mind that there's no TV in the apartment, they don't have much things to leave around, and more often than not don't need to use the laundry machine. On the downside it's more work to wash and change the sheets, etc.

Melody

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2015, 03:41:20 AM »
I can handle it for limited timeframes but these days I would probably rather find another way to reduce my budget, especially as my rent isn't a lot more for my very small apartment than for sharing a house and I don't think I could share an apartment (too small for sharing... For example can't use kitchen at the same time). However when I move I will be in a different real estate market where I plan to do air bnb (only a tiny increase in rent to go from a studio to a two bedroom living in a popular backpacker neighbourhood) as this will make it easier to host family. If I can let the room 4 days a month this would cover the rent differential.

mskyle

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2015, 09:59:37 AM »
I've been the sublettor, I've been on a lease "jointly and separately" with my housemates, I've rented an apartment just for myself, I've been the only one on the lease and rented out my spare bedroom, and I've rented a room from a homeowner (a friend). And now I share an apartment with my SO.

It's really all about finding the right people. I've had good roommates and bad roommates, and good "lodgers" and bad ones. You really have to trust your gut (this can be dangerous advice for a traditional landlord, for discrimination reasons, but you're allowed more leeway when it's a person who shares your living space). For me the best roommates have been the ones who have completely different schedules from me. Busy people, people who work evenings if you work days (and vice versa) - great roommates!

Probably the safest bet is offering a furnished room for a short lease (like 6 months or so), which can really work out great in a college town. You can be more restrictive about making rules for your "lodgers" than you can for your on-the-lease roommates (stuff like "no guests" and "no parties"). And if things don't work out, six months is not really very long.

But you have to be honest with yourself about how you're going to feel about having strangers in "your" space. I sublet from one roommate who just had really unreasonable expectations - basically that I would *never* leave anything out in the common areas of the apartment.

Exhale

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2015, 11:42:28 AM »
Probably the safest bet is offering a furnished room for a short lease (like 6 months or so), which can really work out great in a college town. You can be more restrictive about making rules for your "lodgers" than you can for your on-the-lease roommates. And if things don't work out, six months is not really very long.

Thank you mskyle, this is exactly the approach I'd take - "lodgers" (not on the lease). And I'd be clear about house rules (no TV, no smoking, etc.) so potential lodgers could make an informed decision about if it's a place they wish to live.

I can handle it for limited timeframes but these days I would probably rather find another way to reduce my budget...

This is exactly what I'm wondering about Melody. What's helpful about this discussion is hearing from others about how much energy (emotional and otherwise) something like this might require.

Like spartana and MBot, if I was paying off a house it'd be a no-brainer to do this (and/or Airbnb, etc.). However, I rent and my current (wonderful) job is quite people heavy. This is what makes me pause think that I may need to let go of the possible financial savings in the interest of maintaining my mental health/good life balance. (This can be hard for me: not pursuing FIRE so hard that I compromise on core needs in the present moment.)
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 11:45:33 AM by Exhale »

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2015, 12:00:30 PM »
Rent is the easiest check I ever got.  Renting out the unused bedrooms in wherever I was staying is a great way to make money.  Sometimes the other people are messy, or noisy, or whatever, but it's usually not too bad.

Everyone is better to live with than your parents, right?  So that's where most of us are.  Sure this landlord makes me clean up the kitchen the very same day I do any cooking, but it's still better than living with my dad!  Etc.

If you're going to do this for the long term, commit to it, and find a place that makes it easier.  Separate entrances, split housing plans, either by floor level or opposite sides of common areas, or the holy grail - two kitchens.

Often times a minor renovation of adding a wall or a door on a dining room creates effectively two common areas, which can help out quite a bit.

I've been trying to get started on airbnb for awhile now, but they require some sort of social media account to verify your id, and I don't really do anything like that.  No facebook or twitter for me!

If I ever manage to navigate their alternative registration process, I hope to make some serious bank operating as a bed n breakfast.

AJ

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2015, 12:03:22 PM »
Honestly, I love house sharing! When you get the right people, and you have a good system, it can be as good or better than living alone. I have built-in pet/house sitters, there are always people around in the event of an emergency, we share chores so everyone only has one room to worry about each month, I can share clothes with the other women, there's always someone to share leftovers with (and who will share theirs with you), there are friends around when you want to be social (and everyone has their private rooms for when you don't). Plus the obvious monetary benefits.

Being restricted to your room for alone time did take a while to get used to. I'm strongly introverted, and when my roommates were new it was hard. But after you live with people for a while, they drain you less to be around, and you get used to the arrangement (think lifestyle deflation). It helps to pick other introverts to live with (or people that are very busy, like students that also work).

The best advice I could give is to trust your gut when choosing who to house share with. If someone doesn't feel like a good fit, for any reason or none at all, don't do it. You may not be able to put your finger on it, but if you don't feel 100% right about someone it will be a BAD idea to live with them.

MandyM

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2015, 12:14:52 PM »
For me the best roommates have been the ones who have completely different schedules from me. Busy people, people who work evenings if you work days (and vice versa) - great roommates!

This. I have had the same roommate for over five years and we met on craigslist after I posted a room for rent there. When she first moved in she worked second shift and her days off were generally during the week. I work M-F, 8-5. So it was a little weird having a stranger in my house that I hardly ever saw, but it allowed us to get to know each other in smaller pieces, instead of all at once.

The biggest thing for us is separate bathrooms. I realize that that isn't always possible, but we would have murdered each other long ago if we had to share.

Side note - when we hit our 5 year "anniversary" we decided that we each got to choose a bad habit of the other person and we each agreed to work on the chosen habit. For her - she leaves her dishes in the sink for days. For me - apparently I don't dust enough.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2015, 12:40:51 PM »
I like the exchange student idea.  Do you have to provide them transportation too?

To OP - why no TV as a ground rule? If someone wanted a TV in their personal bedroom, why should you veto that?

Britan

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2015, 03:09:33 PM »
I've only ever been the renter in that situation (not the landlord), but I know a lot of people who have rented to friends or students. A common trend in the success or failure of the situation seemed to be how good both parties were about setting expectations. It's probably a good idea to cover the ground rules on things like:

  • When/Where can you bother me for something? If something is flooding, it's ok to wake me up at 3am, but don't knock on my door for minor stuff if it's closed, even during the day?
  • How often and to what standards do I expect you to clean? Dishes every day?
  • How often can friends/sig. others come over? Stay the night?
  • Are meals (e.g.:dinners) shared or separate?
  • How late can you be making noise?

Obviously, there's all sorts of ways you can arrange the rules, but it's important for your tenant to know up front what you expect. If you set up the expectation that you're not really doing this to socialize, most people will follow suit, especially if you screen for more of an introvert type. Even without opposite schedules and a private bathroom, I've lived in 3br 1ba houses of up to 5 other people where none of us ever "socialized" if we didn't want to, and I never felt like I didn't have enough private time. Setting expectations and boundaries was key though. Chatting in the living room was fine, but don't ever knock on a closed door unless something is on fire. SOs could stay over however often, but no parties of more than 10 people, period. A nod and "hello" and head straight to your room was perfectly acceptable. We didn't expect to be friends, and it was fine not to be, but we did expect to be friendlywhen we did interact. Funny enough, I actually made some really good friends that way.

This last year was the first full year I lived without roommates (well, with my fiance), and tbh I'd consider going back to living with a roommate if I could find one. And not even for the cost savings. I've never had a problem making my own private alone-time space, and it was nice to have someone who was not my fiance to occasionally talk to without having to leave the house. (I love him but sometimes he is the only non-coworker I talk to in a week! :) )

Exhale

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2015, 08:55:32 PM »
To OP - why no TV as a ground rule? If someone wanted a TV in their personal bedroom, why should you veto that?

Oh, I meant in the common areas. TV their rooms with earphones is fine. That was the norm in lots of house shares I've been in and worked well.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 09:08:14 PM by Exhale »

Exhale

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2015, 09:07:14 PM »
Honestly, I love house sharing! When you get the right people, and you have a good system, it can be as good or better than living alone....Plus the obvious monetary benefits.

I totally agree. I've had wonderful house sharing experiences. Then ran into a couple bad ones which reminded me what house sharing can also be (and how demanding/draining it is when conflicts arise that need to be addressed).

Melody

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Re: Shared housing to save money = has it worked for you?
« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2015, 05:41:47 AM »

I can handle it for limited timeframes but these days I would probably rather find another way to reduce my budget...

This is exactly what I'm wondering about Melody. What's helpful about this discussion is hearing from others about how much energy (emotional and otherwise) something like this might require.


When I say short time frames I guess most of my situations worked well for the first 6 months. I suspect his is because like a new romantic relationship everyone is on their best behavior. Over time, this deteriorates and resentment builds. Once resentment has built every small thing seems like a big deal.
For example Housie moves in, she's super excited to be my new housie, so she always cleans her dishes. After 6 months, the buzz wears off and she goes back to her once weekly schedule, it annoys me so I suffer with it for a while (resentment builds), then I finally talk to her, she agrees to resolve and is suddenly doing them twice as often. I am still annoyed, there are dirty dishes there 2 days out of three, but she thinks she's addressed the problem, so now if I got back to re-address the problem it's seen as an attack "I already fixed it"... it doesn't have to be dishes it can be anything, but I have found this quite consistently with every house share.

Issues I have encountered:
Refusal to help clean up for rent inspection ("I'm too busy") - an issue as the rental as completely in my name. If it had been in both of our names I bet they would have found time.
Dishes, big piles of dishes. No I don't want to wash my wok before I go to use it.
SO's being there all weekend every weekend (not contributing and housie rarely going to their house) but having an issues with my family members staying (at a lower frequency).
Drug use
Horrible pets (and unclean litter tray not changed often enough... I shouldn't have to ask)
Not helping resolve house problems (Refusing to skip a single class in order to let a plumber or handyman in, but expecting me to leave my corporate job a few hours early to do the same. We were paying half the rent exactly and housie was using my stuff so it wasn't like I was providing a "service" as one might for an exchange student. I had to handle this stuff 4 times out of 5, despite the fact housie was a full time student and classes were very close to the house).
Expecting zero distractions when studying (i.e. I was not allowed to even bring one friend over for dinner) but not offering the same to me. (Not that I needed or expected this).
Asking me to spend a weekend away from the house so her and SO could spend their anniversary there even tho I had to study for my exams {see comment about studying above}. (Response, "If alone time is really important to you guys maybe you should book a hotel but I don't mind if he's over that weekend"... she actually asked twice about this.)
I make it sound worse than it was though we actually got along really well, had a number of rad parties and fun times together. But after a while all the bad stuff "stacks" and you get resentful and it's very hard to change your perspective, each minor thing becomes a big deal. 
I would put a fixed exit date on any future housemate situation to avoid the above.