Today Chrissy shares her unique room rental house hacking story from Vancouver.

House Hacking Case Study

Chrissy is a stay at home mom and the FI blogger behind Eat Sleep Breathe FI. She and her family host international homestay students in their spare bedroom. They’ve been using this house hacking strategy since 2006!

The idea originally came from a family member who also hosted international homestay students. The family member truly loved hosting these students. Plus, they enjoyed the additional income. When Chrissy and her husband bought their first home, they knew they would want to host international students as well.

The House Hack

The couple closed on their first home in the early 2000s. As soon as they were able to start house hacking, they did. Since then, they have been hosting homestay students for over a decade.

Not only is this a great house hacking opportunity, but also an amazing life experience for their family. Since having kids, they’ve continued to enjoy their homestay experiences. She’s happy to report that her children have adoptive older brothers and sisters around the world!

Updating the Units

Chrissy and her husband bought their first home primarily for their housing. The opportunity to host international students was an easy transition. They did not have to remodel in any way. But they did source free furniture from family and friends to furnish their student bedrooms with a bed, desk, and dresser.

As Chrissy puts it, “The nice thing about homestay hosting is it’s relatively low-commitment—both cost and time-wise. If it doesn’t work out, there isn’t much (or anything) to change or undo. You’ll simply be left with a lovely guest room, ready for Airbnb or a roommate. (Or just leave it as a guest room!)”

The Tenants

The tenants in a homestay typically stay for 1 to 3 months, but some will only be there for a few days. Most are in their 20s, but they’ve hosted students ranging from 14 years old to 85 years old!

Chrissy doesn’t seek out the international students herself. Instead, she applied to the homestay hosting programs of a few language schools and agencies that specialize in placing students in homestays. The schools and agencies take care of finding the students and offer Chrissy the opportunity to host students that fit within her family profile.

Chrissy prefers the management of the schools and agencies to handle the details. She is just ready to be a wonderful host when the students arrive!

In terms of bookkeeping, she does manage the basic numbers of their homestay income and expenses for their taxes.

The Numbers of the Deal

It’s time to find out exactly how profitable this house hacking strategy was!

Financing

Chrissy and her husband used a conventional loan to put down 25% on their home purchase. The interest rate is a high 7.2% because they bought their first home in the early 2000s. That led to a monthly mortgage payment of $2,070 including principal, interest, taxes, and fees.

Rental Income

Chrissy earns an average of $1,000 per month for hosting international students.  But with the short-term nature of this house hacking strategy, there is some variation from month to month.

  • Gross Rent: $1,000
  • Mortgage payment: $2,070
  • Cashflow before maintenance and vacancies: -$1,070

The cash flow of this strategy is cash flow negative. But Chrissy and her family have been able to dramatically cut their housing costs. The income from this choice has allowed Chrissy to become a full-time stay at home mom. Plus, it grew the gap between their household income and expenses.

The Learning Curve

Hosting international students has been an emotionally and financially rewarding choice for Chrissy. However, she warns against treating students like a meal ticket. She has seen households that are clearly hosting for the money and it isn’t a good fit for anyone.

If you are interested in hosting international students, Chrissy recommends setting up a house rules list and orientation checklist right away. She says, “We didn’t have these important tools in place until our third or fourth student—and had some awkward situations as a result. Once we implemented these tools, everything went much smoother.”

Get In Touch

If you want to learn more about this successful house hacking strategy, then here’s how you can connect with Chrissy. Check out her website, Eat Sleep Breathe FI. You can also reach out on Instagram or Facebook.

You can learn more about Chrissy’s international homestay experience in her full Homestay Series.

The Bottom Line

Chrissy shows that a little bit of creativity can transform your family’s life for the better. She recommends that, “if you’re considering our house hack (hosting homestay students) my advice is to dip your toe in the water and try hosting a few short-term students.”

If you are interested in creating your own house hacking story, then check out our ultimate guide, listen to our house hacking podcast, or read more case studies for inspiration. You never know how dramatically your life can change through this one choice!

If you choose to pursue a house hack of your own, then please share your story with us! We would love to showcase your success like we have with other case studies.