HOUSEHACKING: HOW TO GET A FREE HOUSE
Written by Alli, scroll to the bottom for video
So you want to save an extra $20,000 dollars a year?
We’re going to show you how to get a free house and how we specifically saved an extra $20,000 dollars a year.
This one saving hack is what put us in front of our peers and allowed us to quit our jobs and travel the world.
So, what is this savings hack that saved us an extra $20,000 a year?
We call it HOUSEHACKING. And if you’re like most people, your number one expense is your housing.
What is Househacking?
Househacking is a technique where you purchase a house, either a single-family house or multi-family with the intention of renting out either the other units or other rooms in order to cover your mortgage or reduce your housing expenses as much as possible. And in some cases, you can even get paid to live there.
We’re going to break this tactic down whether you’re single, you have a family or you’re not ready to buy yet and just want to rent.
1. Shared rented house
To start our househacking journey, we rented a large 4 bedroom house with 3 other people. This reduced our housing expense to $750/ month for the two of us. Before we moved in together, Matt was just renting a room out of the house and it was $425/ month. Alli was paying for a one bedroom apartment that was $990/ month, but Matt actually got more amenities, he got a garage and a backyard and a nice swimming pool. Renting a house is a great opportunity if you're not ready to buy and you still want to enjoy the benefits of a low cost of living. This is a great option if you’re single and not ready to buy yet.
2. Multi-family properties
If you're ready to purchase, buying a duplex, triplex or fourplex could be a great option for you. You could live in one unit so you got more privacy and rent out the other units. This is the technique I would go to for a family, which is the second scenario.
This way you don’t have to worry as much about who’s in the house, vetting your roommates as closely especially if you have children, things like that. You would have your own unit, your own space that you live in and then other tenants have their own private space also. One caveat to this that we found in our town, the multi-family properties were not in the area that we wanted to live, it wasn’t close to our work, so there were some other factors that you need to consider and think about. But every city is different so hopefully in your city, if that’s a tactic you want to use, you can find multi-family property that would be perfect for you and your family.
3. Shared purchased house
This is what we did that really created that optimal BUMP. We strategically purchased a home and rented all the other rooms out. We’ll go into numbers below, but this is the best strategy if you're single or newly married (no kids yet) and ready to buy a house.
So, how does all this add up to an extra $20,000 dollars a year?
We’re going to run you through what our housing looked like from the time we left school to the time we quit our jobs.
When we first moved out to Bakersfield, Matt was living in a shared house, paid $425 a month (plus around $100 utilities on top of that), so $525 total.
When Alli first moved to Bakersfield, she was living in a one bedroom apartment which was $990, plus some utilities on top of that, coming to about $1200 bucks a month.
So together, we were paying close to $1700 dollars a month, maybe $1800 dollars a month for both of us to live separately.
From there, we ended up moving into the master of the shared house. The master was $725 dollars a month, which we both split so we dropped our housing to say $850 or $900 dollars total, which is awesome. We cut our housing expense in half. But then we wanted to even get cheaper housing, so we started hunting for our own house.
When we bought our house we were able to rent out all three rooms and cover all our mortgage.
We went from about $1800 dollars a month, to just about $0 dollars a month in the course of 2 or 3 years.
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But as with anything in life, there are pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of househacking:
PROS OF HOUSEHACKING:
You are saving more money and that creates more opportunities for freedom.
Just like being in college and being in dorms, being in shared house, you have a lot of people around, things to organize activities with, family dinners, etc.
As a female, living in an apartment by myself was the first time I ever lived alone and it was little frightening for me just being a single woman alone in an apartment. Moving into a house I felt a lot more secure and safe, knowing that at least there were other people there that you could hear if something is happening or if I got sick and needed to go the emergency room. It was just a nice security blanket knowing there are other people there.
CONS OF HOUSEHACKING:
1. Lack of privacy
How we managed to be newlyweds in a house full of people was this: we strategically purchased a house that had a big master bedroom, it was like the size of a studio apartment, so we felt like we had a lot of space to ourselves. Considering what type of house you move in to or what type of situation you move in to, considering privacy is important to when you make your purchase or choose the place you're going to rent.
2. Bad roommates
Thankfully we haven’t had any bad roommates. Initially, we just screened roommates with our gut and by knowing friends of the people moving into our house. It was a pretty small community where we were living and it was easy to know friends of friends and people who needed a place to live, and so we went with our gut a lot of times. Now that we don’t live in the house and are still renting out all four of the bedrooms, we use a service called cozy.co and basically you send the tenant a screening application and they fill it out, they pay $35 bucks and then we receive back their credit history and background check. That really gives a piece of mind and doesn’t come out of our pocket, the potential tenant pays that.
This kind of goes with bad roommates, but just sharing a space with people can get messy, particularly bathrooms and kitchen. So early on we hired a cleaning service and it was the best decision we ever made. We had them come every two weeks, they cleaned all the common areas. They would also clean your room if you wanted or change your sheets. It was about a $100 dollars each time they came, so $200 bucks a month we just split between other roomies. Now that we rent with all utilities included we just have upped the price of rent and it includes the cleaning service. That keeps all the common areas clean, all the bathrooms clean, nobody has to worry about coming home from work and doing chores.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
1. Pick the right house and the right type
We talked some about what we looked for in a house, but mostly it's was a big master, whether it’s close to work or in an area out of town you want to live in.
We spent about 6 months looking for our house and running a lot of numbers as far as how many rooms it had, how much we thought we could rent it for, what the mortgage would work out to be, to try to find the best deal for us to make sure that we would pay as little as possible or even make some money every month. So, spend a lot of time looking for the right property for you and don’t rush into one.
2. Good tenants
Use cozy.co, we definitely recommend it, it’s super easy, it takes all the pressure off of you. A tenant pays for the application and you get to know if they ever had evictions, how their credit is, all those things.
If you have any questions specifically about where you live and your situation, leave them in the comments below, we would happily give you some advice and look into where you live and what your situation is to see what would work out best for you to decrease your housing expense.