Why Not Make Some Money from Your Unused Living Space?

Why Not Make Some Money from Your Unused Living Space?
  • Opening Intro -

    While it is difficult to precisely nail down the numbers, the facts seem to support houses getting bigger and households getting smaller.

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Fewer people are living in more space, at least in the U.S., where everything is super sized. We view the possession of unneeded living space as a luxury, almost as a sacred right. The amount of unnecessary living space we have is a not-so-subtle demonstration of conspicuous wealth.

Unfortunately, this leads to us buying houses that we think we deserve, rather than houses we can actually afford. There is also a great deal of pressure in being in a certain socio-economic class. The house we live in is an external indicator of class. While everyone sees our house, no one sees our bank statements. All too often, those statements show that we are in over our heads.

What we need is a way of turning that unused space into cash. Consider the following options:

Rent It

Whether you have a spare house, or a spare room, if it is not making you money, it is costing you money. Why not put that extra space to work? Whatever space you have, there is someone out there willing to rent it, and pay good money for the privilege.

What you need is the kind of homeowner’s insurance that allows you to sublet space. Talk to your agent to make sure you have the right kind of coverage. In addition, you need to make sure your tenant has renters insurance that covers damage and loss of their possessions. Just as car rental companies require you to have auto insurance, you need to make sure your guests have rental insurance.

You can rent by owner, or you may want to go through an agency for the purposes of client screening and payment collection. You will have to share some of your profits with the agency. But what they do for you in return is well worth it.

Trade It

You want to visit England for a week. Chances are, someone in England wants to visit America that same week. The only challenge is finding each other. Fortunately, that is one of the things the Internet is good for. There are a number of online services that offer membership programs for fellow travelers looking to save on lodging.

When you travel, why spend thousands on lodging when you can spend nothing. By trading spaces, you are literally making money on the house you are not using while you are traveling. These services make it easy to find pet friendly houses. That is something generally easier to find in Europe than the U.S. Pet or no pet, just don’t forget the renter’s insurance.

Sell It

The 800 lb. gorilla in the room is the fact that for whatever reason, you bought too much house. Renting unused space only works if you don’t mind treating your living space as a business, and opening it up to complete strangers. That is not a solution that will work for everyone.

It is time we reevaluate our basic home-buying premisses. Why do we think we need so much space? Almost everyone else in the world gets along just fine with a fraction of the living space enjoyed by the average American home owner.

One of the most responsible things we could do with that space is to sell it, and reinvest the money in something we might actually need, like retirement. If we purchase a smaller home that more sensibly reflects our needs, there will be plenty of profit to reinvest.

Whether we rent it, trade it, or sell it, we should probably do something with our excess space besides fill it with junk.

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