This is the first selection of a series on the benefits of living in community. I will be attempting to post these every Monday through May and June. This first post addresses the financial benefits.
When people ask us why we live together, the first reason that comes to mind is finances. It’s the easiest answer and by far the primary reason we even considered it. Honestly, most people find that it is next to impossible to afford housing on a single income. Add the recent rise in unemployment and it is no wonder why the statistics of house sharing are rapidly rising.
The financial benefits to house sharing are HUGE. We often sit around and wonder how anyone can afford housing on their own (seriously, we do!).
For example, for ease of comparison, here are the sharable expenses of one person renting an apartment vs. two.
Electricity: $ 80
Natural gas: $80
Food: $ 400
Total per person: $1575
Natural gas: $100
Food: $ 750
Total per person: $982.50
Total savings for each person sharing an apartment is $592.50 per month! That’s enough to cover transportation, insurance, and miscellaneous costs for most people. Notice also that a lot of the expenses didn’t change when adding a second person (nor would they when adding a third or fourth). The rent, cable, internet and water didn’t go up at all when adding an extra person (I realize in a lot of towns the water bill would have gone up, but ours is not based on usage). Gas, electricity and food will increase but will not double. The reason the expense doesn’t double is that it takes a certain amount of electricity and gas to run a home no matter who is living in it. The gas costs to heat a home are the same whether one or two people live in it. The same is true of the electricity to run a refrigerator, entertainment system etc. Adding usage will add some extra cost but it is greatly offset by what is saved. Roommates will also save some money on food if they split the grocery bill because they will be buying in larger quantities, which generally saves money.
For us, we had an enormous amount of medical and other debt that was causing us to live in some seriously sketchy neighborhoods. Our weekend entertainment consisted of watching through our blinds the drama of our neighbors getting arrested. There were dogs wandering aimlessly and loud music blaring from the tie dye wearing hippy that was growing “tomatoes”. My bras got stolen a lot from the laundry room. We felt bad that we couldn’t let the kids go outside to play. When we visited Patrick and Denise, the kids referred to their lawn as a “field” and the wooded lot as a “forest”.
Patrick and Denise were in a tight spot financially due to a change in jobs for both of them. It was then that we hatched our unconventional plan. It worked for us financially. Five years later, though things are still tight, we can pay our bills, have paid off a quarter of our debt, and the kids have had the stability and freedom of living in a quiet neighborhood. The other benefits were not expected, but have become obvious over time and I will be talking about some of them over the next two months.
*Based on Alaska prices.