How to keep a roof over your head

11 Creative Housing Solutions

by Gary Foreman


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According to Realtytrac, there were nearly 1.9 million foreclosure files in 2011. The statistics don't say how many families were involved, but clearly that's a lot of people losing their homes.

For most of us, housing is the single biggest item in our monthly expenses, making it especially hard to keep up with rent or mortgage payments. Any financial problem could make losing your home almost unavoidable. So let's examine some creative housing solutions that can keep you from becoming homeless.

Rent out a spare bedroom. The "bonus room" was a big selling feature a few years ago. Today that empty bedroom makes it harder to keep up with the mortgage. Rent it out for some extra income each month.

Rent out part of your garage or basement. Self-storage complexes are going up everywhere. More and more people need extra space to store their stuff. Unused space in your garage, basement, or attic could be an answer for you and your overcrowded friend. Plus stored items tend to be very quiet tenants.

Take up house sitting. Clergy, professors, and some other business people take sabbaticals or travel for extended periods. Some retirees split their time between two states. An unoccupied home is an invitation to burglars and a water leak away from a major home repair. Find the right house sitting job and you could live with little or no rent.

Become a dormitory house parent. Anyone who's attended college or watched Animal House knows that college students need some adult supervision from time to time. Usually nothing more than common sense and a loud voice is needed. Often these jobs go to graduate students, but you might find an opening that's perfect for you.

Find an on-site property management job. Have some do-it-yourself or home repair skills? You could be the perfect property manager for an apartment complex. Most are even agreeable to managers with kids. You'll need to be prepared to take late night calls and deal with blocked toilets, but you'll have your own apartment and the great feeling of having the landlord knock on your door to give you a check.

Become an elderly caregiver. Medical advances increase longevity. Meaning more elderly are staying in their homes longer. Often they need help with routine daily tasks. In some cases, they're looking for a live-in caregiver. All you need is willing hands and a caring personality.

Become a live-in nanny. Many two-income families have sufficient income and don't want to put their kids in daycare. A live-in nanny is more to their liking. If you're good with small children, you can live with the wealthy and get paid for the privilege.

Become a campground or small hotel manager. Some businesses require an around-the-clock manager on site to answer questions and to make sales. Generally you'll just need to be trustworthy and have the ability to deal with the public.

Take on the life of a vagabond. History is full of nomadic tribes wandering the earth. Today in the U.S., some seniors live out of their RVs roaming from campground to campground. If you're able to work from home and enjoy travel, you don't need to wait until you retire to join the modern day vagabonds.

Buy a "fixer upper." It's easy to find depressed properties in today's housing market. These are homes that could be worth much more with a little work. If you're handy with home repair, you can buy a place for cheap and live in it while you do the needed upgrades and repairs. Because you're living in the house, you'll avoid the risk of most "flippers." Besides your DIY chops, you'll need a down payment and the ability to get a mortgage.

Share a home. Singles have done it for years. Now single moms and even families are trying shared housing. There's nothing special required except someone you trust to share your home.

So if your rent or mortgage is pushing you towards homelessness, try considering a creative approach to your housing. You might find an entirely new way of life.


Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and he's a regular contributor to CreditCards.com. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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