Space Is Your Greatest Asset

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Everywhere you look now, space is at a premium. Parking a car in Vancouver for three hours can set you back $21. Fifty square feet of storage in Toronto can cost you $193/month. According to Rentseeker, my 3-bedroom in Richmond would rent for $1,644! Somehow, we’ve all just accepted that space is expensive, even though the price for renting that space is often flat-out stupid! What if we decided to end the madness? What if, instead of being gouged for square footage, we found a way to make our existing space work for us instead of the other way around? Well, listed below are a few ways you can cash in. You don’t need to live in a mansion either. I’m just a regular guy who recognized an opportunity. You might realize there’s been a cash cow in your backyard all along.

First, the obvious: Get roommates. You don’t have to live alone. I’ve done the math, and by March 2018, I’ll be back to “no rent and no bills” because of what I make from them. I’m sacrificing my home office to make it work, but not really. I’m just moving my office to my currently underutilized living room. To get even more advanced, consider getting into Airbnb if you have a spare room! Here’s an article about it. For the nitty-gritty, here’s another! If that all sounds too stressful, rent to friends because you can still make extra cash in unique circumstances. We still “put people up in our storage closet for about $300/month”, and my friends all know they can come to me if things ever get weird, like if they suddenly get evicted or a relationship splits up. This was my first step. If you’re willing to bring other people into your space, you can profit immensely.

In another example, this book describes how its author uses an MRP (Multi-unit Residential Property) to live rent-free. He even advocates going as extreme as buying a fourplex, renting out three units, and living in only one! In 1999 though, he bought his first duplex and started paying into it. The property was $109,000 in Calexico, CA and his monthly payment was around $900. He lived in one apartment and rented the other for $800/month. That $800 plus his $100 “rent” went straight into home equity! I suspect he’s doing quite well now. This is common and basic optimization of real estate. You probably know a bunch of people doing something similar right now.

I also discovered you don’t need a full room or apartment available to make money. When my dad died, I sold my van, took over his car, and now my parents’ two-car garage in New Westminster has one space open. (I live a few towns over in Richmond.) Remember how expensive storage can be? Well, I know someone desperately in need of storage space. Instead of gouging them though, I’m letting them use that space for $50/month. It’s slightly less convenient for everyone because I’d have to accompany them whenever they need access, but they’d save (and I’d earn) hundreds! It’s win-win because I get to profit, they get to save, and I’ve effectively done a favour for them! It’s great!

Live near an event space? Here in Vancouver, near our local fairgrounds, residents open up their driveways for people to park. Last I checked, the fair itself charges $20 for parking, so let’s say we charge $15/car. Well, if you have a property width of 14.5 metres and a large enough backyard, YOU CAN PARK FIVE VEHICLES LEGALLY. $75/day for a month? That’s over $2,000! Everyone should be doing something like this! You can even monetize a small patch of dirt on the sunny side of your building! I’d gladly pay $50 for a garden space during the summer if I didn’t already have one. We all have access to space that’s “ours”, so let’s use it!

These are just a few examples, but every bit of space in your home should have a job. Let it make money for you. I’m a few thousand richer every year because I abide by that. Can you do the same and live rent-free? Tell us in the comments.

Roommate #2.5, or Why “K” Plans to Live in His Van

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If you’re willing to look at renting from a weirder angle, you could save about $1,200/month like “K”. This is how.

FYI: This is about more than van-living. Read on.

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First, my situation: My place has housed three people before, but since we’re now back down to two, we’ve readopted a revolving door policy for friends to come and go as they please. When we do this, we generally have one- or two-month arrangements and put people up in our storage closet for about $300/month. Since our guests only sleep in there and are free to use the rest of our apartment anytime, this is actually a lot nicer than it sounds. We have multiple TVs, a fully stocked kitchen, 1.5 bathrooms, and even an office! As proof of concept, we actually have a guest with us next month – “J”. She’s looking for a more permanent space with her boyfriend, but until she finds the perfect place, she doesn’t want to sign another lease. We make a little bit of rent money, and she has the flexibility to keep looking. Everybody wins!

Our friend “K” is gonna win hard in a few months too. Unfortunately, his current situation is a real money pit. In his own words: im paying 1375 plus hydro and internet which bring it to 1500. my plan is to sell my jeep for 14000 and get a 2007 Mercedes sprinter for the same amount roughly. i figure it will cost about 1000 to convert it into a living space, since it will just be a bed, side table and closet cause i dont need to have a kitchen or toilet. [More on this in a second.] ive lived in a honda crv(which was fucking terrible) then a jeep cherokee which was a bit better. then [“R”] and i lived in a mini van that we built a bed frame in and put a double matress with curtains and a battery system to power fans and our laptops without using the vans battery. also we had a solar panel on the roof to charge the electric system”.

Yup, he’s planning on living in a van. But wait! It’s actually WAY better than it sounds! Why? HE GETS TO USE OUR PLACE AS A HOMEBASE TOO! And he’s not sleeping in our storage closet, meaning I can still have short-term guests! WTF, RIGHT?!?

I should probably back up and explain. When “K’s” lease is up at his $1,375/month apartment (that costs him $1,500 after bills), we have an arrangement set up. He will, essentially, become our Roommate #2.5. His plan involves sleeping in his van, but he’ll also be living with us, using our kitchen, bathroom, and office space during the day. He’ll be paying ~$300/month, and in return, he’ll have access to all our amenities, like Internet, running water, and an actual goddamn mailing address. He won’t have any real bills! On paper, he lives here. In reality, the van is home, and because of that, he has the flexibility to take his home wherever he might need to go, whether it’s a job site or a vacation destination! Also, THIS FREES UP ~$1,200/MONTH OF HIS MONEY! Over just one year, HE SAVES ~$14,400 AND I MAKE ~$3,600! Again, everybody wins! It’s like a sort of “friend economy”. Instead of paying strangers for their services or housing, pay FRIENDS for what THEY can provide. Money and favours keep circulating amongst the people you care about, and everyone becomes richer because of it! Friend Economy 101!

Obviously, this really only works for young, single people like “K”. You can’t raise a family in a van. It’s hard to argue with the savings for people who can make this work though! In Vancouver, where a 1-bedroom goes for $1,900, having access to an apartment’s amenities while sleeping in your own space for ~$300 is a steal! Of course, finding opportunities like this isn’t gonna be a walk in the park. This is just one isolated example of a millennial living unconventionally, and saving shitloads because of it.

When possible, use and rely on your friends. “K” found cheap housing. “J” found a temporary place to stay until she lines up the perfect home. I found extra rent money. It’s actually ridiculous things like this don’t happen more often. If we all functioned better as a real community, maybe we’d all be a few thousand richer.

That’s the kind of world I want to live in. I’d sleep in a van too if it meant being able to invest an extra $1,200/month. Would you?

My 99-Year Leasehold and Why It’s Fucking Awesome

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Here, read this.

Are you back? Good. Most people aren’t even aware of 99-year leaseholds. If this sounds right for you, like if you never intend to have kids, I may have just saved you a few hundred thousand. Buy me a beer sometime!

Anyway, I have an enviable Home for my age. I’m 27 and I have 71+ years of Rent paid off with my leasehold. That’s what 99-year leaseholds are: paying ≤99 years of Rent all in one go, and reaping the benefits of Home Ownership. Mine worked out to $170,000, or $199.53/month. I own my property and the right to live there until 2087. Technically, I don’t own the land underneath it, but I’ll be dead by 99 and really don’t care. I’ll never need a mortgage, and I’ll never need a freehold. I don’t plan on having kids. I guess I’m set! Even if I change my mind and sell the remaining years when I’m 65, there’ll still be 33+ years left on the lease! I estimate I’ll be able to get AT LEAST $120,000 for the remaining years. $50,000 to live somewhere for 38 years? That’s $109.65/month.

Wait, it gets crazier. My place is over 1,000 square feet and has two bedrooms. My girlfriend’s moving in on May 1, and with my current roommate staying, I’ll be collecting $950.43 from them in Rent. $633.62 of that gets eaten up by miscellaneous building maintenance fees, and the remaining $316.81 pays literally ALL MY BILLS. Electrics, Internet, Netflix, Rogers. Right now, I have zero Expenses aside from Food, Alcohol and Entertainment, and I was able to pull it off with my Rental Property.

A key thing to note about this is you don’t live forever. Take a moment and ask yourself why you REALLY want to own your place, freehold and all. Is it an investment? Is it for status? Are you hoping to pass it down? Now ask yourself: Is this worth extending your career OVER 33% MORE?

My Home is modest. It probably wouldn’t impress anyone. Secretly, that’s another reason it rocks. We’ve already talked about how Shiny Things Are Stupid, and that applies DOUBLY to a Home. Realistically, even if you were the friendliest gal in town and you loved showing off your place, you’d invite maybe 100 different people to it over a number of years. Is having an expensive Home – and in Vancouver, we’re talking at least $1M – worth briefly impressing 100 people? There’s always the argument that it’s not about THEM, it’s about YOU, but isn’t that even dumber? WHY WOULD YOU SPEND A 40+ YEAR CAREER MAKING $1M JUST SO YOU CAN MAKE COFFEE ON A GRANITE COUNTERTOP? FYI, poor people drink the same damn coffee. You’d be happier with more Time and Experiences, not heated toilet seats. Snap out of it.

The insane thing is I’m not even leveraging my Home to its full potential. I sometimes leave the country for weeks at a time and I’ve been told I should Airbnb my place out to make even more Money while I Travel. I COULD GET PAID TO TRAVEL. You can too! Read this.

Home Ownership isn’t black and white. 99-year leaseholds are the happy grey area where dreams are made. It seems silly to me that someone would spend their entire Life working towards a beautiful Home only to live there for 10 years before they croak. Wouldn’t it be better to have an average leasehold Home and shorten your Career voluntarily?

Additional perspective: You may “own” 2,500 square feet someday but outside, there are 197 million square MILES that you can explore. Guess what? Those 197 million square miles look the same to you as they do to Bill Gates.

Go outside. You must already be rich as fuck if you share 197 million square miles with Bill Effing Gates. Just remember, you owe me a beer.