Settling down and buying a house seems to be taking a back seat for many Canadians these days, and for various reasons. Whether due to finances or the fact you're eccentric, maybe homeownership just isn't an option for you. If you're looking for ways to save money, learn some valuable life skills, or just do things a little differently, take a look at these cool alternatives of houses and apartments for rent that will give you a new lease on life.
Living on the Water
Rent in Toronto can average anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 per month, a hefty charge for someone making under $40,000 annually like Danica Brown. In order for her to find something remotely affordable, she claims she would have had to take a chance on a basement apartment far away from the city and hope for the best.
She didn't want to do that.
Instead, she applied for a loan and purchased a boat for $24,000 which she now lives on with her cats. She plans to pay off the boat in five years, then resell it and use the cash for a down payment on a home.
While Danica may not have all the luxuries and amenities as a home or apartment dweller (she has to use the marina's facilities for bathing and laundry), she's thrilled to be saving a ton of money while also planning for her future.
If you're all about living green, and you thrive on the concept of making the planet more friendly in every way, you may love living in an ecovillage.
Ecovillages are sustainable communities that vary somewhat in their structure. But the overall concept is the same: a community of people—singles and families both young and old—who work together to grow crops (usually organic), share in food production, and work towards making the neighborhood provide all that's needed for its residents, from work and school all the way to shopping.
Most ecovillages really push the concept of walking and biking, only resorting to public transportation when needed. Some even reward their residents for this line of thinking, like this ecovillage in Los Angeles that gives a $20 discount to renters who don't own a car.
The benefits of an ecovillage are not only individual but also global. Residents can feel good about helping the environment and putting their land to good use while fostering a wealth of long-term economic advantages.
Similar to the ecovillage is the cohousing community. If you enjoy daily contact with others and dream of being a team player to make your community a better place, then cohousing may be the perfect solution for you.
Don't be fooled by the name, however. Cohousing isn't sharing a home, per se. It's sharing a community that tends to be filled with homogeneous groups of people.There's a heavy focus on social dynamics and the people of the neighborhood working together for the common good.
Residents enjoy spending time together and taking care of one another's children, many of whom are home schooled. There is a high level of love and acceptance among all residents. There are also common facilities where community members can come together to cook and enjoy meals and celebrations.
Take a look at this cohousing community in Ottawa that has mastered the art of sharing. The neighborhood has a common house that's used for visiting family members, and the community even shares a single lawn mower to cut down on the costs of homeownership.
Most of the time, those who live in a cohousing community own their home. However, there are programs that make homes available to some buyers for below market value. Also, many cohousing communities will allow newcomers to rent while making a decision about whether or not this type of living is right for them.
Moving one step beyond having a roommate or two is the concept of collective housing. In this living arrangement, the members of the house tend to share common values and divide up chores like cooking and cleaning. Obviously, you can't be a hermit or have difficulty getting along with others for this lifestyle to work for you.
The cost will vary, but renters can save a lot, depending on the size of the home, number of occupants, and other unusual variables. For example, in this Vancouver home, you might only have to pay $425 a month, but the cheap price means other house members will have to walk through your sleeping quarters in order to get to theirs. Of course there are additional savings such as paying a smaller fraction on things like internet and utilities.
Each home is run a little differently, but there's no doubt that collective living offers incredible economic advantages to those who don't make a lot of money.