Michelle lives in Roanoke, Virginia in a house she bought a year ago. It’s a small house of 735 square feet and she rents out a room in the house. There are many ways to share housing, what’s important is finding one that works with your needs. Michelle was able to work out a situation that works for her.
Her first experience was a disaster. The housemate showed up with a U-Haul full of furniture and an attitude that assumed that the house was hers too. This did not sit well with Michelle and the relationship did not last very long.
After that experience, Michelle changed her idea of how she wanted to share her house. She furnished the room completely and now rents it out to medical residents and interns who are working a rotation of four to eight weeks in one of the two hospitals in town. In this way, Michelle has housemates for short-term stays with breaks in between.
Short Term Guests
She likes renting to the medical students (always only female). As she says, “They’ve already been thoroughly vetted for being a good reference. They’ve had to do so much just to get to this point in their training.” For that reason, she doesn’t feel the need to check references. She does ask for some positive ID that they are at the hospital.
She advertises on Craigslist and describes the room, the area and her requirements: no drinking, no smoking, and no overnight guests. She started out charging $500, but dropped it to $350 because “they (the students) are really tight on money.” She doesn’t charge a deposit.”They just don’t have the money.” Michelle uses the income to cover her in the summer months when she doesn’t get a salary from the school in which she is a special-needs teacher.
When an applicant responds to the ad, Michell will exchange emails with the applicant and look at the applicants Facebook page. There will be at least one phone call, but she doesn’t meet the person until they actually move in. She says, “I always go with the first person who applies that is acceptable.”
“I make sure that I’m home when they arrive. I show them where things are including their spaces in the kitchen and have them sign an housemate agreement as I get a check from them.” She then will have the agreement notarized. In the agreement she stipulates things like: no eating in bed, no leaving things around that would attract bugs and pests, no crumbs. No overnight guests. Other guests welcome but on weeknights they need to leave by 8:30PM and on weekends by 10PM.
In her experience, “I don’t see [the housemates] around very much. The students work 10-12 hours per day and most of them are into being fit. They run and hike the many trails nearby and use the local gyms. In the mornings I usually make a big pot of coffee which I share.”
She says, “I like having the company. And the dogs like something new.” Michelle has two dogs. “Most of the young women who have stayed here have a pet that someone else is taking care of for them. They like having the dogs here. I find the dogs in their room and sometimes on the bed.”
Her most recent housemate couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving and was homesick. So Michelle made a Thanksgiving dinner for her and they ate it together.
“These students have a full load on their plates. They need to be safe and I make sure that I have a welcome for them.”