Buying a home is a significant part of the American dream for many people. However, the rising costs of buying a home make it difficult to turn that dream into a reality. It takes a lot of time and planning to save for a down payment, qualify for a mortgage, and find the perfect home. If you want to have a place to call your own, cheap alternative housing solutions can be a suitable replacement to consider.
This post covers some of the best alternative housing ideas to keep in mind that will let you have your own place without racking up loads of debt.
Benefits to Alternative Housing Solutions
Finding a place to live is a major financial decision to make. Your rent or mortgage payment will impact your monthly budget. Depending on where you live, you may also have costs related to home maintenance or upkeep.
*Related: Read our guide on how to create a budget if you’re new to budgeting and don’t know where to begin.
Many alternative housing solutions can lower this financial impact as they’re simply not as expensive as a traditional home. There are other benefits to keep in mind when considering inexpensive housing options, such as:
- Decluttering and not owning as much stuff
- Energy efficiency
- Having the ability to travel with your home
- Not worrying about future moves if the home is mobile
Of course, there are drawbacks to keep in mind when considering cheap housing options. Not every possibility will meet your needs nor may be practical for your situation. Keep this in mind as you pursue alternative housing ideas.
Tiny homes are taking the world by storm. There is an HGTV show about finding the perfect tiny home and tons of bloggers online who are living out their tiny home dreams. The great thing about a tiny home is that they are often incredibly affordable.
This is a house that you could purchase in cash. So, rather than saving money just for a house down payment, you can save to purchase a tiny home with no mortgage.
Some people put their tiny homes on a trailer and tow them around the country. Others put them on a piece of land that they buy or perhaps on land a family member owns.
The minimalist culture around tiny homes also encourages people to consume less because they have less room to store belongings. This can save you money in the long run, too.
Keep in mind that tiny house living is not for everyone. Like other alternative housing solutions, there are pros and cons to weigh before taking the leap.
Living in an RV
If you have dreams about traveling the country while still having the comforts of home, an RV is one of the best alternative housing solutions for you. RVs are especially great for those who have the ability to work remotely. That way, you can still make a living while you see the world.
There is definitely a wide range of prices when it comes to an RV. You can buy an older one that might need some remodeling for a low price. However, there are also luxury RVs that can cost as much as a house.
So, if you choose this lifestyle and want it to be affordable, make sure to carefully choose an RV that comfortably fits into your budget. A down payment is a must, assuming you want to keep monthly payments low, just as if you were buying a house.
Check RV rates on LendingTree to see what kind of rate you can anticipate on your RV purchase.
A housing co-op is a bit different from owning your own condo or your own home. Instead of buying an actual piece of real estate, you are buying a share of a cooperative.
In big cities like New York City, housing cooperatives are much more affordable than buying your own condo. However, you often have to be approved by a board and share your financial information in order to become a member.
You can visit the National Association of Housing Cooperatives to find out more information about this type of alternative housing option.
Renting a Basement Apartment
Even though people worry that they “waste money” when renting, it’s still a good option for those who don’t want the expense of a house. Your mortgage payment might be less than a rental payment but maintaining a home is also expensive.
If you want to save money and get the best deal, try renting a basement apartment instead of a whole home. When you rent a home, you’ll often have higher utilities and more upkeep.
*Related: Need to furnish your home for less? Read our guide on ways to find great deals on furniture to help you score awesome deals.*
Renting in an apartment complex also comes with more expenses, especially if you’re paying for community amenities like a gym or a pool.
Often, when renting a basement apartment, you’re helping the homeowners make their mortgage payments more affordable. You might also be able to negotiate payments on rent, utilities, and other services.
Shipping Container Home
There are many ways to make a home out of unique materials. When I lived in the Caribbean, there were several shops and homes made out of shipping containers.
In fact, my favorite coffee shop near my husband’s medical school was made up of three bright blue shipping containers.
It’s easier to locate a shipping container if you live on a coast or near a port. However, they are popular enough that you can find them online and on eBay, too. It will take time to convert it to a home, but it’s definitely one of the more unique and affordable alternative housing solutions.
Ultimately, buying a traditional home isn’t the only way to find a place to live. If you’re on a budget and looking for inexpensive housing solutions, try some of these alternative options.
What other alternative housing ideas would you consider? Do you live in an unusual type of house like an RV or a tiny home? What drawbacks to alternative housing would keep you from pursuing it as an option?
Kris Fetter says
For RV’s, you have to be aware that recently some RV parks are requiring RV’s to be something line 5 years old or newer to be allowed in their parks. It’s to ward off the homeless/RV’rs that are all over the west coast. It’s a shame but it’s a reality.
Lori Brown says
Cat – thank you for the ideas. I’ve lived in small travel trailer for five years full time. This was a health choice as our family was made ill by toxic mold in our big beautiful (but lethal) home.
I’ve learned a lot about mold and health since walking away from our home. 1) One fourth of the population has genetics that make them susecptable to becoming ill from mold. 2) All RVs are prone to water damage and consequential mold. 3) Basements are notorious for mold issues. The good news is: three quarters of the population will not be affected by living in these situations.