You may ask yourself, How can I live for free? Housing is one of the biggest expenses in budgets across the country. In fact, the average American spends approximately 30% of their household budget on housing costs. What if you could eliminate this expense and live for free? Without this massive drain on your monthly budget, you could dramatically transform your financial future. Today we will take a closer look at the possibilities of how you can live for free.
How can I live for free?
If you have the goal of living for free, then you should explore the idea of house hacking. Essentially, house hacking is a strategy that you can use to eliminate your housing expenses.
Although there are other ways to live for free, housing hacking is an option that’s open to everyone. You’ll no longer need to seek out a relative’s basement apartment to live for free.
What is house hacking?
House hacking a way to live for free. The goal is to rent out the extra space on your property to offset your mortgage expenses. But how can you make this dream a reality that suits your lifestyle? Luckily, there is a wide range of house hacking opportunities.
Let’s take a closer look at each:
- Room rental housing hacking. In this situation, you would rent out extra rooms to roommates. The tenants can be either short-term or long-term. You would likely share common areas with these tenants
- Income suite house hacking. If you don’t want to share common spaces with tenants, then an income suite house hack can be a good option. Since the space is completely separate, you’ll enjoy more privacy.
- ADU house hacking. An ADU, or accessory dwelling unit, allows you to rent out a completely separate building to tenants on your property. A pool house or guest cottage could work well for this house hacking arrangement.
- Small multi-family house hacking. With the help of a small multiple unit property, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of your own place with other units to offset the cost. Typically, you’ll be able to purchase a small multi-family unit property with up to 4 units through traditional financing options. With that, you have up to three extra units to offset the cost of your property.
- A slow flip or live-in flip. If you are handy, then a fixer-upper could turn into a great profit. If you are willing to live in the home while you flip it, you stand to enjoy free housing with the potential for extra profits.
- Work provided housing. The final house hacking option is work provided housing. In some cases, employers are willing to pay for your housing costs. Although it is not a common option, it can be if you find the right employer.
Each of these options has its own pros and cons. You’ll need to balance your desire for privacy with the ability to completely offset your housing costs.
How to start house hacking
Now that you know a little bit more about your options, let’s take a closer look at how you can start house hacking and live for free.
Research your options
Although we’ve covered a quick overview of the house hacking styles at your disposal, we have more resources for you to explore.
Take some time to consider your options. Don’t immediately rule out a possibility without taking some time to think through the idea. With a little bit of creativity, you might find the perfect house hacking solution.
Consider properties in your area and beyond
As you start to consider your options, take some time to explore the property market in your area. Think through the costs of obtaining a property that would fit into your house hacking plans.
Depending on where you live, you may need to consider expanding your geographic search radius. For example, if you live in a high cost of living area, then a move to a lower cost of living area makes this dream of living for free more attainable.
Before closing on a property, run the numbers. Compare the cost of your mortgage with rental market rates in the area. Ensure that the property is able to meet your cash flow goals before moving forward.
Save for a down payment
Once you have a better idea of the cost to buy a home in your chosen area, start to save for your down payment.
Although you could aim for the traditionally recommended 20% down, there are many loan options available that will dramatically cut your down payment obligations. For example, with an FHA loan you may only have to put down 3.5%. Or if you qualify for the VA loan, you may not need to put down any money at all! With a lower down payment, you can speed up the process to homeownership. But you’ll likely have a higher mortgage obligation. Make sure to weigh this decision carefully before moving forward.
If you are working to save for a down payment, consider starting a side hustle or slashing discretionary spending to reach your goal faster.
Find the property
Once you have the down payment, it’s time to find the property. You may want to consider working with a local realtor to find the right property for you. But it is possible to seek out the right property on your own if you are willing to put in the time.
Find the tenants
After closing on the property, you’ll need to find the right tenants. You can choose to self manage or work with a property manager. Since you are living on-site, it might be easier to self manage. Plus, that puts more money towards your bottom line.
If you choose to self manage, then make sure to screen your tenants well. Don’t just take the first tenant that applies. Instead, run a background and credit check and make sure that you are comfortable with the results. Once the tenant is in the door, using free software like Cozy.co can help you manage these tenants more easily.
Live for free
After making your way through the steps above, you should be able to live for free. Even if you aren’t able to live for completely free, shaving a few hundred dollars off of your housing costs is still an exciting prospect.
Once you are living for free, you can put your savings towards your savings goals. Whether you choose to save for long term goals such as retirement or short term lifestyle goals, your bank account will thank you for making house hacking a reality.
The bottom line
It is possible to live for free, but it will require creativity. In fact, you will have to think outside of the box to pull off a successful house hack. But if you have the goal of living for free, building a creative living situation can make your goal a reality.
Please take advantage of our ultimate guide to house hacking as you start this journey of eliminating your housing expenses for good!