“My fiance and I are having a terrible time finding an apartment or other traditional living space here in New Jersey, and I am looking for inexpensive alternatives, but am not sure where to start.
He is in the Army Reserves and neither of us make a lot, so we would like to save as much money as we can.
I spent several childhood years living in an RV, and it was an amazing experience, but there aren’t really any trailer parks in our area… does anyone have any thoughts on other extremely low-budget alternative housing options for us?”
Here are a ideas from Offbeat Homies who are making this work:
- Living in a place with roomates is usually much cheaper than getting your own place. Sublet a room or two, or join a cooperative/collective house. Or even look into communal living!
- We make it work by living with another couple. For the price of two efficiency apartments in a bad neighborhood, two couples can rent a decent house. Housing costs are high around here (south Jersey; I don’t know if you’re in the north, where things are even more ridiculous), but there are a lot of rentals on the market because people can’t sell. At the moment, we have 4 adults and 1 infant in a tiny two bedroom cottage that’s falling down, but … we can pay the bills! Alternatives are great if you can find them, but … things that are technically illegal or sketchy take on new aspects when kids are involved.
- Have you looked into your region’s Affordable Dwelling program? The way it works for us is that applicants must make less than a certain amount to qualify for homes that are sold at lower prices. It’s to help even out the distribution in salary. The income levels are high enough that most people are well employed yet unable to afford most places currently for sale. I once qualified for one of these in a once-rough DC neighborhood. The building itself was nice and a relatively new development. I declined but that was because my job relocated to the burbs.
- You can look into houses that are for sale but that the owners have a hard time selling. (Let’s say, the house is on the market for over 6-12 months). Maybe they are willing to rent it to you for a low(er) fee/rent in exchange for moving out quickly when it sells. We currently live in a building that is going to be demolished, but it is not clear when. Our contract states that we have to move out within 28 days of a notice. That’s short term (a normal contract would state 3 months), but the rent (technically, we do not pay rent, but a fee for looking after and living in the building) is really low.
- Along the same line as Guesthouses, check for Basement Apartments. In certain neighborhoods, a lot of houses have a tiny studio apartment tucked into the basement. If you’re willing to live small, they could be a good option.
- we bought a caravan for $700 and a pantech (back of an old moving truck) for $1300. We rent a room in a share house which is used as my husbands man cave and live in the van in the back yard, we share the bathroom in the house. By making this sacrifice we now pay only $180 per week which includes power and water, with the money were saving on rent and utillities we have managed to pay of hubbies debt in one year and now working on paying mine off. Its not exactly palace royal but it works for us.
- Apartment managers often get free on-site rent. Also seasonal workers at resorts (at least out where I live in the Southwestern U.S.) get free apartments.
- A friend of mine and her partner did maintenance at a ski resort year round and had free housing and use of the resort equipment (snow mobiles, lift tickets, etc.). At some of the National Parks, people are hired seasonally and provided with cabins to live in.
- If you have an R.V., often you can find someone with a lot that you can share. I have known people who have fit 3 R.V.s on one lot and they split the lot payment.
We love these options!