Living with a friend, a relative, a co-worker, purchasing a starter home and renting out rooms or an entire level in your house. These are some of the ways to get you on the path to owning your own home and to help you afford those mortgage payments. Now, before you turn your nose up at me and stop reading, I know no one really likes having to share a space with your parents or advertise for a renter, but and this can be a big but, if you can deal with your differences, good and bad, for a period of about five years, you will be way ahead of the game. Sharing a space will allow you to purchase a home and be able to make those monthly mortgage payments.
This was my husband’s and mine first really big step to owning our own home. When we first married, we lived with his parents, my in-laws. It was not ideal for newlyweds but somehow, even though I had never had to do this before, I knew that it would help us out in the long run. I moved my things in just before we married and when we returned from our honeymoon, we began our married life with a full house living with my husband’s parents and his two sisters. At that time, I worked with my sister-in-law, my husband’s oldest sister, (that’s how I met my husband) so it was a convenience to go to work together. Nothing was very private except for our bedroom, and even then you weren’t sure if my mother-in-law would walk in to make sure we didn’t need anything. Yes, it did happen!
This first part of my married life was very different for me. I grew up almost like an only child. My three siblings and I are very far apart in age (I’m the youngest). When my brother, who is 7 years older than me, moved out of our parents’ home, the house was pretty quiet. I was used to a quiet home. It wasn’t easy to get used to the idea of moving in with my in-laws and my family certainly felt it was a bad idea. I knew, though, that if we lived with them for a few years, we could sock away quite a bit of money for a down payment on our own house. That would put us ahead of my peers who could little afford to put down the bank’s required down payment in order to obtain a mortgage.
The advantage of living with my husband’s parents was that my husband’s paycheque was used to pay any bills we had and to buy food. My paycheque went completely in the bank. Before too long, we had a good savings account going. As my husband also worked evenings, I was never alone, although I sometimes wished I was. Although my mother-in-law spoke only in Portuguese, we did manage to communicate for the most part and I even started to pick up some words. When I came home from a long day at work, I had the choice to join them for dinner or be on my own in a basement kitchen that my father-in-law had built to cook my own supper. The choice was mine and I appreciated the times I sat with my in-laws for dinner. The housework was shared between my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law and myself. So, I never had a house to completely clean after working all week. I was able to do my own laundry in the comfort of our home – no cost for a laundromat. If I needed to go out in the evening, there were other cars where someone would either give me a drive or I could borrow a car to go somewhere.
Once I started having kids, my kids had at least two other pairs of eyes on them keeping them safe. My oldest child ended up speaking Portuguese fluently. He could say something to my mother-in-law and turn right around to me and say something in English without the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, he lost the language over the years. Of course, you can’t beat the closeness a grandparent is able to have with his/her grandchild when they are living in the same household. I worked full time after my first son was born and then part-time after my second son was born. My mother-in-law looked after both of them. Another cost we didn’t have to encounter was daycare. Along with that was the fact that they were being cared for by someone who had only their best interest at heart not to mention a warm meal in their belly.
Now, mind you, my in-laws expected no rent money so that’s how we were able to put away quite a bit of money, but we did try to buy anything that the household needed in return. When they needed new laundry machines, we purchased those for them. Of course, we got to use them too. Sunday dinners I cooked to give my mother-in-law somewhat of a break and we would sometimes invite my family over as well to join us.
Having done it, I would have stayed there longer, maybe permanently. But that is because of what I know now. Some things that seemed so mountainous, like little privacy, don’t seem so big now. I remember when I started having children, I felt I didn’t want my mother-in-law to care for them because I thought they wouldn’t know who their mother was. Not only did my children know who I was, but they benefitted by having another woman love them as much as I did and who could give them attention in a different way than I could. This was our first important step, and probably when I look back, the biggest stepping stone to saving money and putting us into a future of being able to live on one income. If you can do it for a few years, it is worth everything that you deal with.
Later on, in one of my part-time jobs, I met a man who had four sons. They married one after anther and they equally purchased and moved into a house together with their wives. He told me after 5 years, all four couples had enough equity to put down on a home of their own. Since they had to share things when they lived together, the sisters-in-law ended up becoming quite close with each other and still help each other out even though they each have their own households today.
Sharing a space doesn’t have to be for a long time. If you can share the costs of living together with a relative or two or friends, even for only 4 or 5 years, you will be able to put money away for your own place. It definitely isn’t easy. I look back on things that I made a big deal of which are of no consequence when I think back on them. More often than not, sharing a space not only puts money in your bank account but does give you a close kinship with other people that you wouldn’t normally be able to cultivate.