Friday, April 1, 2011


Where you live is important, but should not be a financial burden. It should be affordable for you so that your housing is not a negative in your life. There are a lot of options for saving money on housing and I hope that you take the time to explore some of them.

Renting - People who should consider renting as a housing option are those who cannot yet afford to purchase or build a house. When renting, look for individuals who are renting out a non-traditional space (such as garages converted to studio apartments, guest houses, and even spare rooms) rather than going straight to a realtor. This will save you money. Craigslist and the local newspaper classifieds are excellent places to start looking for these types of renting situations. 

Buying - If you have saved up money and are ready to purchase a house, good for you! Never finance a house, it is worth it to save up the money to buy up front. Only buy what you need, a house larger than what is required will incur extra expenses. If you are a DIYer, save money by buying something that needs some fixing up. Buy older houses that are still structurally sound rather than the new house in the new suburban neighborhood. Consider buying a used mobile home if you will be in an area for only a few years and then be leaving (great for college). You can sell them when you're done, and lot rent is usually very reasonable. Used RVs can sometimes serve some of the same purposes as used mobile homes.

Bartering - This is our current housing situation. There are many types of barter housing. For us, we work on maintaining the house and property in exchange for rent. Other situations include house sitting for people who will be leaving their residence for a considerable time and don't want to sell but want it to be kept up (and guarded) while they are away. Another type of barter housing is elderly care. Many people would rather allow a dependable person (background check is usually required) to live in with their elder rather than put them in a nursing home. There exist web sites where you can search for such housing and you also may find these situations locally and on Craigslist (just go ahead and assume you can find anything there).

Building - When building a home, give great consideration to eco-friendly building methods. These have many benefits, one of which being affordability. There are many types of eco-friendly homes to suit every need. Some commonly used ones are straw-bale houses, earth bag homes,  adobe houses and cordwood masonry homes. Keep an open mind and be willing to learn and adapt. There are places all over the internet where you can read about these methods, their benefits, and their downsides. You can also find free plans for building such a house. We are interested in straw bale building in the future found a good straw bale starter house plan which costs only about $7k to build.  

Sharing - Rented or owned housing can be shared. People who know and trust one another can rent or buy together. This is another good college option and is best for singles. However, some families share large housing with other families in order to form a close community and lower expenses. These types of housing are more often found in larger metropolitan areas and in intentional communities. 

Alternatives - An alternative form of housing would be internships where your food and housing are provided. These can be found through many organizations, and regularly provide learning experience and can even count for college credit in some cases. Some places to find such opportunities are The Student Conservation AssociationWorld Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms, and LandBuddy. Alternative housing is not for everyone. Sometimes it involves camping, sharing housing or rooms with strangers (usually team members you'll have to work with), and travel. Travel is sometimes paid for. Though there are group opportunities (if you are married or have children), they are less frequently available than individual ones.

Whatever your mode of housing, it should accommodate your family, should not put you in any debt, and you should feel safe there. 

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