Consider Alternatives To Mortgage Debt

  1. Rent

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    The obvious alternative to mortgage debt is to rent a house instead of buying one.

    It is often cheaper to rent rather than own the same thing, and this is especially true in neighbohoods with good schools.

    Use the calculator to compare renting to owning.

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  2. Find Renters

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    It is sometimes possible to find a duplex, triplex, or maybe a pair of houses on a "flag" lot which makes sense to buy because the rent from the other units may cover enough of the expenses to make your own unit cheaper than renting the same thing yourself.

    It's even possible for a group of people to all chip in and buy a house together. A group of people can always afford more than any one of them on their own. But you have to be able to get along with them.

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  3. Build Your Own House

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    While it doesn't solve the problem of land costs, building costs can be dramatically reduced by literally building your house yourself. It is possible!

    I've met the author of this excellent book on building your own house and read it myself.

    This book on tiny houses is also very well done.

    It's clearly possible, if you're handy and willing to do a lot of physical labor.

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  4. Live in an RV

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    RV living has real mobility and cost advantages if you don't need a place that's fixed to the ground. Very common among the newly-retired.

    Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition

    Don't like RV's? How about living on a cruise ship? (Hat tip to New Renter)

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  5. Live On A Boat

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    There are many houseboats floating around San Francisco Bay. Take a bike ride south of the SF Giants stadium and you'll see a bunch:

    I worked with a guy in San Francisco who kept his sailboat docked in San Francisco during the workweek, then sailed up to near Davis to his cheap regular house on the weekends.

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  6. Be A Caretaker

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    The caretaker of an apartment or vacation house often gets to live there rent-free, in exchange for keeping up the place.

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  7. Live In A Hotel

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    Hotels sometimes give reasonable deals to long-term tenants.

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  8. Pay Cash

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    It takes less than half as long to save up enough money to buy outright for cash than it does to pay off a mortgage. About half the cost of a normal loan is interest payments. Not only does the saver get to skip paying all those, he gets interest while he's saving.

    Paying cash also usually gets you a discount on the price, avoids all mortgage points and fees, and liberates you from all worry that the bank might take your house. Plus, when you've actually earned all the money upu front, you'll probably be understandably more cautious about how you spend it.

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