4 Ways to Put Your Home to Work

By the time most of us reach an age that begins with “3”, we’ve outgrown our willingness to share our living space with a roommate, unless it’s the romantic co-habitating type. However, most of us haven’t outgrown our student loans or credit card debt generated during our Roaring 20s, and unshared rent can be a bigger burden than we’re comfortable shouldering.

There are a number of ways you can use your home to make a little extra dough with minimal impact on your life. Of course, a lot of this depends on where you live (urban is easier) and what your tolerance is for space invasion, but here’s a list of some unusual options, some of which I’ve tried from one side of the equation or the other. Oh, and you can find most of these arrangements on Craigslist (“Sublet/Temporary” or “Share”).

Short/Fixed-term Roommate
A lot of people have short-term needs for any number of reasons, often for 1-3 months. Examples are law students on a summer internship, foreign adults on a homestay language program, marital break-up where the person moving out isn’t able to make a 12-month decision, someone undergoing major home renovation/repair, etc. This way if you don’t like them or their habits, the end is in sight and not at all awkward.

Home office away from home
A surprising number of people can’t concentrate on their work when they’re at home, but don’t want the expense of a full-time office. They usually have very specific hours in mind, and either want their own quiet room or the whole place to themselves (bear in mind that I live in Manhattan, where the two are often one and the same!). This is how I started my massage biz before moving into Manhattan and taking on a long-term lease – I became a “daytime-only roommate” from 12pm-8pm on weekdays for someone who worked a normal job and then took acting and yoga classes most evenings. If I was going to finish earlier (I was usually done by 6:30pm), I just texted her that she was free to come home early. I paid a weekly fee plus 2 massages a month, and the arrangement lasted for 10 weeks. Most people looking to borrow space are writers – a pretty easy bunch to please as long as your hours are compatible.

Rent out your storage space
This works well in NYC, where older buildings have non-existent closet space. I realize this can be a little risky if you don’t know the person, don’t know what’s being stored, don’t know if they’ll accuse you of taking their stuff, etc…but my favorite posting on craigslist to rent a closet was from a cross-dresser who wanted to keep his fetish a secret – just wanted a place to store his girl wardrobe. Others are looking for garage space for projects or motorcycle protection. If I take a gap between apartments, I have a client across the bridge in northern NJ who has offered up his garage. He doesn’t need or want money for it, but I intend to give him a free 90-min massage when I return. I know, look at me, always working the barter angle.

Vacation/Weekend subletting
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of tourism, consider renting out your whole home while you’re away on vacation, or even just a weekend. Craigslist is a good, free option and VRBO is not free and probably only worth it if you plan to do it repeatedly. By the way, even if you don’t live in a popular touristy area, there still might be the occasional opportunity. My mom lives in a part of NJ near a racetrack that sometimes? always? (not sure) hosts The Breeders’ Cup. There aren’t a lot of hotels in the area, and people who come in for this are a pretty glitzy crowd. A friend of my mom’s vacated his 5-bedroom suburban home in a wealthy town for one week, removing all personal effects (photos, dishes, everything but the furniture), to “sublet” it to a large, filthy rich Saudi family for … drumroll please … $25,000. I imagine a lot of people who live within a 90-minute commute of Washington DC are going to make most of their month’s rent in a 3-night sublet later this month.

Feel free to leave a Comment with your own experiences and ideas!

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4 Responses

  1. No ideas but I sure wish I could get $25,000 for my condo for a week or even a month! :)

  2. another option to the subletting is trading your home for vacations. It doesn’t “earn” you any money as the person stays for free, but you get to stay at their place for free as well eliminating lodging costs which are often the most expensive part of a vacation.

  3. Interesting idea, I offered to rent storage space to one of Mr M’s friend. He had to move in with his brother for awhile and had more stuff than would fit. He ended up renting from another friend instead. I wouldn’t be comfortable renting out my house with my stuff in it and packing and moving it all would be a hassle. I’d do it for $25k though!

  4. About your suggestion to rent out storage space…I recently used a site called Homstie (http://www.homstie.com) that lets you do just that.

    Homstie lets people rent out their extra space as storage. I listed my 2 car garage on the site and had multiple people “apply” to rent my storage space. I selected the one who seemed most trustworthy and he is now paying me $200 a month to store his boxes, couch, treadmill, and rooftop ski rack in my garage. I bought a lease agreement from Homstie to legally bind the transaction and we set up a monthly recurring payment on PayPal. I can’t think of an easier way to make $2,400 per year.

    Apparently my renter is saving big time. He used to pay over $700 per month for a similarly sized unit at Public Storage!

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