Today Deandra McDonald shares her roommate style house hacking story from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Want to try house hacking for yourself? I highly encourage you to grab a copy of our House Hacking Quick Start Guide (free) as you read along. Not only will it deepen your learning, but it also includes a cost-saving tip most house hackers miss. 

House Hacking Case Study

As a public school teacher, Deandra was looking for a way to stop struggling financially. After realizing that her housing expense was the biggest item in her budget, she made the goal to eliminate her housing expense. Although she never heard the term ‘house hacking', she essentially did just that back in 2015. She bought a single-family house and rented out the spare room to cover the mortgage.

Within 5 years of buying this property, she was able to quit her job as a public school teacher. Now she teaches others how to start their own real estate journey. Today we will learn more about her first house hacking experience.

The House Hack

In May of 2015, Deandra bought her first single-family home with the intention of covering the mortgage with a roommate's help. When seeking out this property, she looked for a house that could accommodate her, her dog, and a roommate.

Updating the Units

Deandra did not have to deal with any renovations before moving into the house. Luckily, it was completely turnkey when she closed. In future real estate deals, Deandra did end up doing renovations without the help of a contractor. But she recommends hiring a contractor when you can.

The Tenants

When Deandra was choosing a roommate, she decided that she only wanted to live with someone that she already knew. With that, she used her network to find a friend in need of a place to stay. She quickly found a male roommate to fill the extra space in her home. In a fun turn of events, she met her future husband through her roommate. It definitely turned out for the best!

The Numbers of the Deal

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


Deandra used a conventional loan to purchase the $85,000 house with a $4,000 down payment. With a 3.75% interest rate, the total monthly mortgage comes to $525. That includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Rental Income

Deandra was able to charge her roommate $600 per month.

  • Previous housing costs: $750
  • Gross Rent: $600
  • Mortgage payment: $525
  • Cashflow before maintenance and vacancies: $75
  • Total housing savings: $825

The cash flow of the property is slightly positive. However, Deandra says she broke even after paying for the utilities each month. Even though the property is not cashflow positive, it is still an amazing win. She was able to completely eliminate her housing expense.

Want to live for free while someone else pays your mortgage? Dive into housing hacking with our House Hacking Quick Start Guide. 

How to Connect

Are you interested in learning more about Deandra's story? You can connect with her on her website – Deandra McDonald. She is also available on Facebook and Instagram @deandramcd.

The Learning Curve

Deandra was able to completely eliminate her housing costs with this house hacking strategy. After enjoying the ability to live for free in this property, she decided to house hack two more times while building her real estate portfolio.

With the savings she was able to create, Deandra continued to buy more real estate. Within a few years, she had built a profitable real estate portfolio.

The Bottom Line

Deandra was able to completely eliminate housing expenses from his life. Imagine if you could do the same!

Clayton plans to use his positive cash flow to leapfrog to his next house hacking.

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.