Federal guidelines recommend households spend no more than 30% of their household income on housing and utilities. At my current salary, I shouldn’t spend more than $858. My mortgage, tax and insurance are $903. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know the average amount of my utility bills. Based on web searches, the average for this area is close to $200. Our current housing situation with utilities runs around $1100 a month. It’s more than the federal guideline recommendation; but it’s a conscious choice I made. We cut corners other places. Plus, unlike many single moms, I receive child support.
There’s no way around it. If I lost my job and was only able to find a job paying minimum wage, we would have to move.
Assuming I don’t have the resources to buy a newspaper or computer, I visited the library. Luckily, I know libraries allow people to use both these items for free. Many are not aware of this service. For those who know, transportation becomes the issue. (I’ll cover transportation issues at a later date.) For today, let’s assume the stars have aligned. I have transportation to and from the library. There is not a long wait to use the computers.
I’m eager to find a place. I don’t know where to start; so I ask the librarian. She suggests craigslist.com. I’m allowed an hour on the computer. Longer. . . if no one is waiting. During this hour, I search my zipcode for a house or apartment with a maximum rent of $373. A message “nothing found for that search” appears. Next, I search rooms and shares in our zipcode. Once again “nothing found for that search.” I take out the zipcode.
Finally, some results are displayed. I read several headlines stating “furnished room for rent $150.” Immediately I thought, “It’s not going to be as hard as I anticipated to find a place.” Each time I clicked on one of the ads with rent in the $100 range it was for a week; not a month.
About fifteen minutes later, I saw an ad for a room we could afford; but soon realized we wouldn’t be chosen. She’s looking for someone “who travels a lot for their work.” I can’t imagine she’s willing to share a house with a mother and elementary-aged child. There was an ad for $350. However, no details or pictures were given. My gut feeling was creepy.
This left me with a few options.
#1 “i have a very nice 3 bedroom house alone. im looking for a very bossy woman of any age that is not attracted to me but would still like to move in for free and boss me around. i want her to make me her houseboy slave and she would be the goddess. nothing sexual has to happen. i dont care if she has kids at all. i just want her to mov ein boss me to do all the housework errands laudnry dishes wash car cook etc”
#2 “There is one room avail that I sometimes use when I stay at the house, which is not that often. If you are on the go a lot, just want a really inexpensive place to crash, and just need a place to lay your head plus bathroom, I am willing to rent this room to you for $300 month which includes utilities. From this location, you can actually walk to many attractions, bars etc and avoid DUIs”
#3 “So here is the deal … I’m Stable single father guy, have a full time job, car and everything but struggle to make my life complete because childcare fees are so high and no support system around me, Are you a single parent too seeking help? Do you have a car? Just want to start over? Would you like to be taken care of fully in exchange for helping with kids? You’d have your own private bedroom with full bath, cable, internet in very nice neighborhood. If interested message me and let’s talk … Please tell me a little bit about yourself, and include a photo so I may know who I’m speaking with. Serious people only .”
#4 “I know this is not your normal Room for Rent ad. I have a 4 bedroom house that is only 3 years old. I have two extra bedrooms. I am willing to let a female live rent free and utilities free. The only catch would be that we would also be FWB. I currently live with my GF so our “fun” would be something secret and on the side when she isn’t home. I am 39, attractive, white, clean and lots of fun to be around. Your room is already furnished with a queen bed, Satellite TV, dresser and nightstand. Again the house is fairly new and still has that new home smell. If you would be interested please email me some information about you and a picture or two and tell me why you think you would be a good fit for this type of situation.” (For those not familiar with the acronyms FWB and GF. FWB means friends with benefits. GF means girlfriend.
I did a final search and something I could live with if absolutely necessary showed up. . . a month to month rental of an RV. That is if I can scrape together a $250 deposit.
“Like new RV for single Female. Can have one small child. Non smoker, neat and clean. Electric and water included. No pets and no smoking. Month to month, $350 a month, $250 deposit. Nice quite location close to Lake Wheeler Lake”
Without bartering services or asking a friend if we can move in, the only option I’ve found is my child and I living in an RV without the stability of a year lease.
My next search will be finding how to get housing assistance using HUD.