I am always interested in alternative housing options for saving money. After all, I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Renting or owning a home is expensive. In fact, housing costs are usually the biggest expense in anyone’s budget. Therefore, looking at ways to reduce housing costs is a smart way to significantly reduce overall spending.
I want to stay in the city, though. I’m urban at heart. I like to take advantage of all of the things that a city has to offer. Therefore, although there are some great alternative housing options for rural areas, that’s not what I’m most interested in at this time. Instead, I’m interested in all of the alternative housing options for urbanites.
Not-So-Alternative Housing Options: Roommates
The most convenient way to save money on housing in the city isn’t really an alternative option at all. It is to have roommates. The only thing that makes it alternative is the type of roommate situations available in urban areas. After all, most people think of roommates as a college thing; then they move on. However, in cities like San Francisco, roommates might mean living with sixty-year-old artists, families with small children, or the other members of your polyamorous relationship. In other words, having a roommate isn’t alternative, but it’s about thinking outside of the box in terms of your shared living arrangement.
Alternative Housing with Co-Living
Co-housing arrangements are a little bit like roommate situations. However, the difference is that you do have a housing area to yourself. In a typical scenario, you would have your own apartment with bedrooms and bathrooms. However, you would share a kitchen area, gym, rooftop garden, etc. Co-housing arrangements are a great way to get a lot of amenities from your housing without spending a lot of money for them. Singles, couples, and families can all take advantage of this form of alternative housing across many major cities.
Tiny House Living
The less house you have, the less that you pay. Tiny homes are a popular choice. However, they’re usually intended for people who are living in more rural or at least suburban areas. Luckily, the tiny home concept seems to be moving into urban areas as well. Typically, what you’ll find is a very small apartment, with design features inspired by the tiny house movement. However, in some instances, you might find someone with a large backyard where you can park your own tiny home. Alternatively, some homes have tiny guesthouses that they rent out.
Rent-to-Own Home Buying
In most cases, you either rent your home or you buy it. However, rent-to-own home buying is an increasingly popular alternative housing arrangement. It’s a smart financial choice if you don’t quite have the down payment for a home, yet. Plus it can be a great way to test out a home to make sure that you want to invest in for the long haul. However, you do pay some additional fees that can be higher than rent, which is something to be aware of if you consider this option.
Fellowships, Artists-in-Residence, and House-Sitting
If you don’t have a lot of stuff that you need to move and/or store, then your options for alternative housing open up a lot. If you’re willing to live almost anywhere, and you’re willing to move often, then you can have your pick of places. Long-term housesitting arrangements are a perfect way to avoid spending money on housing – and possibly even make some extra cash. Likewise, you can apply for artist-in-residence positions, fellowships, and grants that include housing in the deal.
Barter or Work for Reduced Housing Costs
Similarly, you can work on a property or barter your skills to get free or low-cost housing. For example, you might get a job as a property manager for a reduced rate on your apartment in that building. Alternatively, you might become a live-in nanny, room and board included. Of course, these are traditional methods of reducing housing costs. However, if you get creative, and you look within your extended network for opportunities, then you can barter whatever skills you have.
What do you think are the best alternative housing options for saving money in an urban area? Share in the comments below to help all of us expand our possibilities.