By day Susan Cody is an NGO project manager. By night, she has successfully optimized her housing on multiple occasions. Today, we will take the opportunity to learn from her experience.

Susan’s House Hacking Case Study

Susan is a self-proclaimed real estate addict that used the power of house hacking to build wealth as a single woman. Since 2001, she has been a homeowner that chose to rent out space to housemates.

Three of Susan’s house hacking adventures has been the housemate style housing hacking. In this style, she buys the property and rents out the extra space to tenants.

The House Hack

Susan has completed six separate house hacks. She bought the first property in 2001 and the latest property in 2016. The properties are spread across the globe. Let’s take a closer look below.

The Townhouse in LA

The first house hack Susan bought was a large two-bedroom townhome in Los Angeles. That was where she first tried the housemate house hack. It was a fairly normal housemate situation, where each housemate had their own room and shared common areas.

The First Condo in San Francisco

The second house hack Susan bought was a large two-bedroom condo in San Francisco. She had sold the LA townhouse, and rolled the profits of that into a vintage Edwardian condo in SF. This was also a fairly normal housemate situation, where each housemate had their own room.

The Studio In Switzerland

The third house hack Susan bought was a large studio in Switzerland with an amazing view. She bought the property for less than $100,000. Currently, she rents the studio out through a local management company. In the future, she plans to spend more time there personally.

The Paris Pied-A-Terre

The fourth house hacking adventure was a pied-a-terre studio with a small bathroom. Susan bought the property in 2012 for less than $50,000. At the moment, she rents out this space through friends and owns it outright. She plans to use the space personally in the future.

The Santa Cruz Fixer-Upper

In 2014, Susan ventured stateside with her house hacking to purchase a fixer-upper cabin for less than $50,000. The residence is in a private community with some rental restrictions, but she still manages to breakeven.

The San Francisco Condo

The latest house hack that Susan purchased was a 1 bedroom condo in San Francisco. She sold the larger condo in SF and downsized to a smaller place in 2016. She converted an office space into her bedroom in order to rent out the main bedroom. That led to a monthly housing cost of less than $1,200 for Susan in this notoriously expensive city.

Susan plans to continue house hacking around the world with the intention of having a ‘town and country’ lifestyle on two separate continents. She plans to continue seeking out properties with her eye currently set on Portugal or France.

The Numbers Of the Deal

It’s time to find out how profitable this house hacking portfolio really is!

Financing

Susan owes the Paris apartment and Santa Cruz fixer-upper outright.

On the other two properties, she has a 50% LTV. This leads to two monthly mortgage payments. The San Francisco property requires $2,800 to fund the monthly mortgage including taxes and insurance. The interest rate on the mortgage is 3.75% for this property.

The Switzerland property has a mortgage of $550 per month. The loan has an interest rate of 1.25% attached.

Rental Income

Susan rents out the Switzerland studio for around $700 per month and the Paris apartment brings in $375per month.

Currently, the properties break even on themselves. The goal is to own each of these properties outright by the time Susan is ready to retire. She chooses to view house hacking as a long-term living strategy as opposed to a profit-driven venture.

Tenants

When she bought these properties, there were no tenants in place. With that, she had to seek out her own potential renters. For different properties, she took different approaches.

The Switzerland studio is managed by a local company, so she does not need to find any tenants herself. The Paris pied-a-terre is rented through word of mouth with her local friends. Finally, she seeks out housemates on Craigslist for her other properties.

Updating The Units

After buying these properties, Susan had to do very little in renovations for most of the properties. However, the Paris and Santa Cruz spaces needed some updates. She spent $25,000 to update the Santa Cruz cabin and $7,000 to update the Paris pied-a-terre.

Here are some pictures from her fixer-upper:

House Hacking Case Study Sevilla

The Santa Cruz fixer-upper before renovations

House Hacking Case Study Sevilla

The Santa Cruz fixer-upper after renovations.

The Learning Curve

Susan wishes that she had been able to start this process sooner. The strategy is an extremely important part of her wealth-building journey, as well a her long term post-retirement travel and lifestyle goals. She recommends that anyone interested in this opportunity gets started as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

Housing hacking can completely change your financial picture for the better. If you are interested in creating your own house hacking story, then check out our ultimate guide to house hacking, listen to our podcast to get started, or read more house hacking case studies for inspiration.

Be sure to check out next week’s case study with Joseph.

If you’ve already successfully tackled a house hack, then please consider sharing your story here. We would love to share your success with everyone!

Sarah Sharkey
Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys helping people make better financial decisions. You can find her work in publications such as Bankrate, Business Insider, Money Under 30, and her own site – Adventurous Adulting. If she isn’t writing, you’d likely find her exploring her home state of Florida.

You can connect with her on her blog Adventurous Adulting.