Monday, August 1, 2016

Why We Rented a Room from a Complete Stranger

Military life has made me step out of my comfort zone more times than I can count. I've moved across the country, made friends in a place I disliked, and learned how to stand on my own two feet. This latest move made me step even further out of my comfort zone than I ever imagined possible.

We had very little time to prepare for this move because we weren't sure the orders were going to stick until about two weeks before we left California. This means that we didn't have time to set up housing arrangements or anything. Our solution was to take some of the leave my husband had built up to visit family and journey to Michigan first to look for houses. We'd been watching the area long enough to know that rental homes were hard to find and often more than we wanted to pay. So, we decided to buy a house.

We arrived in Michigan the second week of July and found a house we liked immediately after viewing homes on a Tuesday. We started the long process of paperwork - and realized that our closing date would be on or before August 31. Most of July would be spent visiting family but where would we stay in the month of August?

I'm big on saving money, so I set to work crunching numbers and researching options. We have a tent with us, but the campgrounds are all booked up. (Apparently August is still prime tourist season here). Hotel rooms are around $100 or more per night right now. I figured it all up and staying in a hotel for a month would run us around $4000. Not to mention the amount of money that would be spent on eating out since all of the hotel rooms in the area are very basic. In fact, you're lucky if you find a room with a fridge and microwave.

I got very discouraged very fast. Then, I happened upon an idea. What if we rented an apartment for the month? It'd be cheaper than a hotel and we'd have a kitchen to work with. I set out to research and couldn't find an apartment complex that rented by the month. (I guess that's only something you find in bigger cities?) What I did find was the "looking for roommates" section of Craigslist though. I hesitated - believe me, I hesitated - before even bringing up the idea to my husband. The more I thought about the money we would save ($3000 or more), the more comfortable I got with the thought.

I shared the idea with my husband and we got in touch with one of the ads. And didn't hear back. So, I found a new ad. This time, we heard back and set up a time to meet the guy and view the apartment. We finished out our visit in Arkansas and returned to the area (staying in a hotel again). We met with the guy the next day and decided to move forward with renting the room. It's no where near what we're used to but it's doable and feels safe which is the important part. So, for $500, we're now sleeping on an air mattress and have a kitchen to use for the month of August.

 Not the best lighting, but here's our current room - air mattress and makeshift nightstands.

We're also keeping our fingers crossed that closing happens sooner than we expect. We can't wait to be settled into our new house.

Would you ever consider staying temporarily with a stranger to save money?

P.S. I don't know if I could do this alone. Being with my husband definitely makes it a bit more comfortable.


  1. I might if I had my husband too but am proud of you guys and your frugalness!!

    1. I'm always looking at what the best deal is for our money. :) It's helped us out in quite a few situations.

  2. I've lived with people off craigslist before. It's a matter of life when you live in a city.

    1. It's definitely more common in the city! There were always tons of listings in San Francisco when we were living in California. Here it doesn't seem to be as common - our choices on Craigslist were very limited. Detroit (about an hour away) had a lot of listings though. It was definitely a new experience for me.