We all need a place to live. From a financial point-of-view, where we choose to live can be the most important decision we make. Whether it’s a mortgage payment, rent payment, or the fuel and maintenance to keep a van running (see below) the monthly cost of housing is usually the biggest bite out of our income. Choose wisely and we manage to have an affordable way to live comfortably and to improve our chances of building a stronger financial future. Choose poorly and we risk throwing thousands of money away needlessly and sabotage our financial security going forward.
While we can’t advise anyone to follow a particular path to their most financially-sound living situation, as everyone’s circumstances are different, we’ve provided some background and breakdown for the most popular options on the table:
Coliving, also known as shared housing, is a cost-effective approach to living in a city with a high cost of living. While it sounds like living in a college dormitory, there are key differences between the two, mainly that shared housing tends to include a furnished room which is cleaned once a week and features high-end amenities throughout the shared sections of the residence. In short, this gives people the chance to live in cities like New York or San Francisco while paying hundreds less per month than they would if they rented an apartment.
The financial benefits of coliving must be weighed against the tradeoffs of space and privacy. Leading coliving company Common.com isn’t shy about the fact their residents will be sharing space with one another on a daily basis. It’s an inherent element of the shared housing situation which must be considered before choosing this living option.
Buying a home is part of the American dream. It also provides a form of financial security and stability to homeowners in the form of equity built as the mortgage is paid down. Coupled with the wide range of freedom and level of privacy afforded to homeowners, buying a house is commonly cited as the most financially responsible living situation possible.
While owning your own home can feel like a dream come true, the high cost of home maintenance, renovations, property taxes, and other expenses associated with homeownership can quickly turn into a nightmare if you aren’t financially secure enough to weather the situation effectively. It’s imperative for prospective homeowners to factor the added costs of homeownership before going forward with this living situation.
While it’s true we all need a place to live, that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to live in the same place the entire time. The nomadic lifestyle essentially means you earn your income online and therefore have the freedom to move around wherever you want. Financially speaking, this living choice gives you a way to see the world while living and working at the same time, removing the need to plan and spend on vacations.
The financial downsides to the nomadic lifestyle have mostly to do with the increased difficulty in borrowing money and utilizing credit. Without a permanent address, most banks and financial institutions will be hesitant to do business with you.
Van Down by the River
An offshoot of the nomadic living model is choosing to live in a van or motorhome. The financial perks of this situation are also the same as those of nomadic living, which also include an inherent restriction on your ability to accumulate things. The constraint on material purchases will save you money.
But who knows how long that old van is going to last before it needs a new transmission? What happens when the septic system fails in the motorhome? It’s a financial hurdle to overcome when you’re someplace unfamiliar, so keep that in mind.
At last, we arrive at traditional renting, the seemingly inevitable living situation for everyone at some point in their lives. Renting allows us to have the benefits of a home without the responsibility of paying for repairs and upgrades. Leases give us the freedom to make a break from one living situation to another with relative ease when compared to owning a home.
The downside to renting is the fact you are not building equity for yourself, you’re building it for your landlord. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the skyrocketing rents in many major cities are leading to many people spending a vast amount of their income just to afford a place to live.
Fortunately for those in need of a place to live – which is everyone with a pulse – there are several options to choose from. However, when it comes to maximizing your financial power while keeping a roof over your head, it’s imperative to make your choice carefully.