Cheap Housing - or perhaps just frugal
Whether you call it cheap housing, low cost housing or affordable
housing, it all adds up to the same thing - an excellent way to slash
your cost of living. If you look at the average household budget in America, you'll see housing at the top of the list at around 30% of family income. And that represents a big chunk of money.
A figure around 30% is nearly double the amount associated with the second and third largest expenditures of take-home pay -- transportation
and savings/investment/retirement -- both at about 16%.
if you can slash the cost of housing, you'll be taking a huge step
towards reducing your cost of living. As an individual who is completely debt-free,
I can tell you without hesitation, that when you don't have to make a
mortgage payment, your income goes much farther. And, you can choose to
reduce the amount of time you spend working simply because you no longer
have a mortgage hanging over your head.
I've been doing some
research lately into homelessness. It's a tough thing to watch. Many
individuals are facing it out of necessity. Some appear to be victims of
the economy, while others are victims of their own poor decisions. In
any event, when you can't make payments for housing, that puts you in a
From my perspective, the #1 objectives of my efforts are to keep a roof over my head. I just can't see any sort of normal life without a place to call home.
One of my readers asked about "housing" as a
topic for discussion, and after giving it some thought, I decided to get
some of my ideas out there with respect to cheap housing alternatives.
Many of us simply follow in the footsteps of our family, but there are
other alternatives that may be better for us in terms of our lifestyle
as well as our budget.
Some of these ideas may seen a bit out
there, but they all are worth at least some consideration. The last
thing you'd like to be faced with is circumstances forcing you to make a
decision with respect to housing. It's much better to deliberately make
that decision yourself. You'll likely land much more comfortably. If
you wait until you're forced into a situation, that will likely put into
an adverse situation...it can turn your world upside down.
Here are some of the cheap housing options
that you may want to consider if you're hesitant to get into the real
estate market, or you just need to direct a larger portion of your
income elsewhere. In no particular order, here they are:
- Rent a room - this can be a win-win situation for an individual who is looking for
cheap housing, with all the bells and whistles, and homeowners who would
like to earn some money on the side. It's not too difficult to find a room to rent
even if you have no experience in the matter. This is an especially attractive
alternative if you'd like to live in a residential neighborhood and get
out of the high density apartment lifestyle. A room in a house will likely be much more quiet.
- Rent an efficiency apartment - the smaller you go, the less you'll likely have to pay. Efficiency apartments
put everything into one living space, except for the bathroom, but they
can be comfortable enough. This is an especially attractive form of
cheap housing for singles and those who do quite a bit of traveling for a
- Live with roommates - with the
right roommates, this can be a good alternative that allows you to rent
(or buy) more house, yet pay out less each month than you normally
would. The challenge here is getting together with individuals who can
live under the same roof and coordinate their lifestyles and schedules
- Move in with family - a
little less desirable in some respects, but it could be very similar to
living with roommates. It seems that two siblings that are without
family could live quite well together. As an alternative, a son or
daughter could live at home to help elderly parents, especially if one
were in failing health. Or, simply create an immediate or extended
family living under one roof.
- An unimproved lot and a tiny house
- something that is very different for many of us. You've probably seen
these tiny homes that are around one hundred square feet, with a small
sleeping loft above. It's a bit like living in a very large dollhouse,
but if you're a minimalist, and you can spend much of your time outside
or away from the house, these can provide a cheap housing alternative
that is also mobile.
- Land with a simple cabin
- an alternative for those of us with unimproved land and a desire to
put some distance between us and our neighbors. Depending on how
"distant" the land is, and what is allowed, there may be expenses like
septic system, phone and power, and water that will add to the expense.
- Live on a boat
- my experience doesn't include living on a boat for more than a few
days at a time, but there are people who use a boat (and I don't mean a
house boat) as their primary residence. A CEO of a former company of
mine lived on a boat, and probably still does today.
- Modular home
- an old standby and something that is popular by necessity here in
Wyoming. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to move into place, and
can be settled into a mobile home park or placed on your own unimproved
- Travel trailer - it's something that
I've done out of necessity, but you might choose a travel trailer as a
form of cheap housing that allows you to live on less. Read about my
experience living in a travel trailer, and see if it appeals to you.
- Cooperative living arrangement
- a cheap housing alternative that is closely related to having
roommates. I can see this possibly as being a viable alternative for
families that want to pool resources to help one another. Think of it as
a smaller version of a commune. Such an arrangement could be conducive
to homeschooling, saving money, and living a lifestyle that is much more
simple and removed from the rat race that many of us know today.
- Rent a cottage during the off season - if you're the type of
person who likes to move around a bit, you might be able to find some
great deals on cottage rentals when the demand is very low. In the
winter, if lakeside cottages aren't rented, they sit empty and make no
money for the owner. Besides, that's part of the reason cottages
rent for so much during the summer season...they're in high demand. So,
sense that the off season has much less demand and therefore should
command a much lower rent. This cheap housing alternative awaits those
who take the time to investigate.
- Living arrangements associated with work
- think of an apartment superintendent who gets his/her apartment as
part of the compensation package. Talk about cheap housing! How is it
that you get less expensive than free?
- Small business living arrangement
- in some cases, you may be able to incorporate your work life with
your place of residence. The idea of a laundry service, restaurant and
motel come to mind. Business is conducted on the ground floor while the
owners live in the apartment directly above or adjacent to the office.
- Funeral home
- saving the most unusual for last. The idea of living at a funeral
home might give you the creeps, but it's almost as common as funeral
homes. Being traditionally a family owned business, the "homes" on the
upper level are sometimes available for rent - often at rock bottom
prices. State laws often require the "home" to be occupied so the
deceased are never left "unattended." This is a preventive measure to
help deter necrophiliacs and their unusual proclivities. I've heard of
some apartments above funeral homes being offered rent free. Certainly,
this form of cheap housing isn't for everyone.
- Be a caretaker of a foreclosed home
- this isn't something I've heard about, but it's worth exploring. You could create your own
situation where you might be able to occupy a home just for the cost of
keeping the grass cut and keeping the property occupied and presentable.
Talk about cheap housing! Why might this work? Vacant properties are subject to vandals.
- Be a house sitter
- this is an idea that can be combined with other housing arrangements.
A friend of mine used to be a house sitter. She would make arrangements
with executives to watch their homes while they were away on vacation.
They would fill up the refrigerator with food, and she would live in the
house for a week or two while they were away. She had the best
accommodations possible, living in the lap of luxury, all expenses paid
for, and when the house sitting job was finished, she went back to her
apartment. Combining this approach to cheap housing with others could
allow you to enjoy great accommodations, while renting or owning an
inexpensive home base elsewhere.
- Land with under-the-radar improvements
- one form of cheap housing that I'm familiar with, at least through
conversations with others, is small structures on otherwise unimproved
land. The small structures are off the radar in terms of building codes,
so the building departments aren't concerned about permits. They might
also fall off the radar in terms of improvements for purposes of
property taxes as well. The maximum size for such structures varies
according to your locality, but I know at least two people who live this
way. It's cheap housing indeed. Land can be had relatively cheaply, and
small structures might only cost
a couple thousand to build, and they don't have to meet code
requirements...just your requirements.
- Living in a van or bus
- this is the last cheap housing alternative I'd like to address. I've
known people who lived in an old school bus, and I know of others who
basically live in a travel van, step van, or other converted vehicle.
It's all possible, it all avoids property taxes, but you'd have to be
someone who enjoys spending time away from home or outdoors because you
wouldn't have much of a home to return to. In the case of the man who
lived in a school bus, he did this during a time when he was building
his own home.
there you have it, a dozen ideas of how to create cheap housing for
yourself. Any one of these ideas could be combined with others to create
a unique solution to your need for housing that meets your budget. The
key to success often lies in being creative and willing to think outside
of that "box" we often place ourselves in.
I've lived in several
forms of cheap housing, including forms that I haven't suggested here.
I've also been homeless for more than a year, so in my mind, any form of
cheap housing is often much better than any form of homelessness.
Good fortune to you as you attempt to whittle down the single largest part of a typical household budget - housing.
Done with Cheap Housing, take me home