Even with help from my parents, paying for college has been tough. After agreeing to pay X amount of tuition there are always unexpected fees, books to buy and rent every month.
As the population in my college town increased, so did living prices. Each year I found myself in a worse situation, financially, than the previous year. Looking back, I've realized the smartest move would have been to buy a house, rent out the extra rooms and after graduation, decide to either sell the place or keep renting it.
Buying a house right after high school may sound a bit aggressive, and maybe unrealistic. Don't get me wrong, it's a huge decision to make but for those of us with parents committed to the college dream, it's actually possible.
1. Convincing Your Parents
Surprisingly, this is the easiest part. A simple rent or buy calculator would probably do the trick, but there are some other financial questions to ask yourselves. First, you should consider the rental market.
A mortgage payment is typically a lot less than asking rent prices. With that said, you may be able to pay the full mortgage every month using the rent money from your roommates. You would be spending a good chunk of money but as an investment for free (or cheap) college living.
If that isn't convincing enough, look at the population trends in your college town. If it's growing, remind them that this year's rent is the lowest price they will see. Each year prices will go up, tuition might too. Plus, renting a place costs a lot more than just rent. You'll pay double for the first month after a move-in deposit and fees. Oh, and you might as well just kiss that deposit goodbye now. Regardless of the condition, you leave your apartment, complexes love that deposit money and you're probably never going to see it again.
There are obvious financial benefits that come with buying a house, but imagine life without a landlord. You can recklessly hang up pictures, paint the walls, have unlimited pets and anything you break can be replaced at a realistic price.
2. Do Business With Reputable Companies
The first step is to determine what you can afford. Use a mortgage calculator to see what the monthly payment would be for each prospective house. It's common for shoppers to prepare for one big initial cost, but remember there are smaller and recurring costs too. Consider the taxes, closing costs, insurance, utilities and maintenance.
As you decide how much is worth spending, remember the income you will receive from roommates. Up front, it may seem cheaper to go with a two bedroom, but after some calculation, you will realize that two or more roommates is ideal. If you're receiving rent from one other person, you'll still be responsible for a chunk of the mortgage. However, with two or more extra rooms, you can collect enough rent to cover the entire mortgage every month.
You should also research the city construction plans in areas you look. If there are permits underway for a new park on your block or a new mall down the street, this probably isn't the best place to buy.
When hunting for a place to live there are dozens of money pits you can fall into. Avoid scams by finding companies worth doing business with. Owning a home for a few years may end up being the best financial decision you ever made. Life without a landlord is just a bonus.