Important Note from Crystal: I thought this guest post was a unique and creative idea which might work in some situations — especially in the case of family members and/or a single person living with a family. However, I’d urge people to proceed with great caution, thought and prayer before setting up an arrangement like this. It’s not worth putting the health of your marriage or family at risk for the sake of saving money.
Guest post by Alexis at Mined Like a Diamond
My husband, daughter and I share a house with my sister-in-law, her husband, and their son. Each family saves several hundred dollars per month (based on what we would pay to rent an apartment) and we get to live in a house, with a yard, in a great neighborhood. Not only do we save quite a bit of money on rent, we also save money through combining resources and sharing some of the load of general home-keeping.
Co-housing benefits we’ve discovered:
By living in a house rather than an apartment, we enjoy:
- A big kitchen – wonderful for bulk cooking and group meals
- A basement – great for storage, extra pantry space, and a chest freezer
- Room to comfortably host overnight guests
- More space for dinner guests and other group hospitality opportunities than an apartment would offer
While sharing a house, we also share:
- Group meals and cooking duties (each family cooks and does dishes three nights per week, which means the other three nights we get home-cooked meals with no cooking and no dishes to do!)
- Household chores
- Free babysitting trade-offs
- Internet service
- A cell phone plan
- Some bulk purchases
- News and magazine subscriptions
- Kid gear for our similarly-aged toddlers
Almost every item on this list is a financial benefit!
It’s also fun! We enjoy a lot of built-in socializing and entertainment, while still saving money.
- We go out to eat much less frequently – with planned at-home meals six nights a week and easy leftovers on our no-cooking night, it’s more convenient to eat at home.
- We can easily take turns leaving sleeping kids for simple date nights without the hassle or expense of hiring a babysitter.
- During daily life, we can work more efficiently together to get things done that save us money in the long run, such as freezer cooking, cleaning, and DIY projects (e.g. sewing, making laundry soap, fixing up a guest room in the basement). Having at least one other adult around most of the time makes life easier and more fun!
Co-housing by choice is not for everyone (we definitely face some challenges due to this lifestyle!), but in this season of building up our savings and caring for our young families, it works for us. And even though it isn’t a utopian arrangement, we feel that it has really helped us to learn about community and brotherly love on a much deeper level, and has strengthened our relationships for life.
How to Pursue Co-Housing
Most people consider roommates to be a feature of their college or single years, but it can work to everyone’s benefit to share housing in less traditional scenarios.
Co-housing or multi-family living situations come in all shapes and sizes. If you are interested in attempting something like this, try to think creatively!
- Live with parents or other relatives who own a larger house than they use or need
- Rent a house with another couple
- Consider combining a family with a single renter or childless couple or single parent or some other configuration of individuals
How To Get Started
- Do some research. Read about or ask people you know who have tried living with relatives or friends about their experiences.
- Identify people* you would be willing to try co-housing with and talk it over with them.
- Once you have the willing parties in place, determine which features are necessary (and/or preferred) for your particular situation, including cost, location, size, layout, and time frame.
- Start looking!
*IMPORTANT: Choosing potentially compatible housemates is something that may take quite a bit of thought, prayer, and wise consideration. Take the time to explore this decision as thoroughly as possible!
Make It A Positive Experience
- Before you move in, take some time to discuss expectations, hopes and fears, and ground rules.
- Expect a bumpy transition! This is likely a big change for every individual involved, and there may be an uncomfortable (but perfectly normal) adjustment period. Work to maintain an atmosphere of patience and grace, especially in the first few months.
- Communicate often, with love, respect, grace and truth. Make an effort to connect frequently and honestly with your housemates – weekly check-ins are a great idea. It is important to place relational health and harmony and the well-being of your marriage and family above financial and convenience factors, and it is not worth ruining relationships just to save a few thousand dollars.
- Have fun! Most likely, this will be a relatively short season in your lives. Try to enjoy the unique opportunities it presents for friendship, community, and memories.
Alexis loves being a wife and mom, and writes about her life, family, faith, and the ins, outs, ups and downs of co-housing at Mined Like a Diamond.
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