Shelter during life-altering events

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by Tom Tracey

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What are the basics for human survival? That's right, they are clothing, food, and shelter. Unfortunately, there are times in our life when even the most basic human needs are in question.

Let's be honest. Events such as divorce, injury, or unemployment could happen (or have happened) at any time. The resulting loss of income could put many of us out of our homes. What would you do?

Having lived through all of these life-altering (and wallet-draining) events, I would like to share with you five solutions for staying warm and dry, while keeping your dignity:

1. Get a working roommate.

A working roommate can help you to split your mortgage or rent payment, buying you additional time before foreclosure or eviction.

Check with friends and relatives to see who might benefit from a change of scenery and low-cost housing. Some prime candidates include college students and divorced or widowed spouses.

Or post a "Roommate Wanted" ad on a bulletin board in a health care facility or public safety building. These occupations traditionally attract responsible people who work around-the-clock hours, giving you elbow room and privacy when you are at home.

Better yet, if you or your roommate work different shifts (and you can stand the crowding), the addition of a third or fourth roommate could have you living rent-free!

Related: 13 Secrets to Successfully Taking In a Roommate

If you are unable to locate an acceptable roommate, turn the tables and become a roommate yourself. Most local newspapers have a "Roommate Wanted" section in the classified ads. Teaming up with someone else in your situation could save you from having to come up with a security deposit of your own, and your rent will be cut in half or better.

2. Become a property manager.

Apartment complexes, mobile home parks, and motels are always looking for resident managers. Skills such as customer service, bookkeeping, and/or maintenance could land you a new career as a property manager. More importantly, you gain a rent-free unit to reside in.

Check the classified section of your local newspaper under "Managers," or your State Job Service Office at http://www.labor.state.(2 digit state).us.

3. House sit.

An opportunity for free housing in beautiful surroundings can be yours as a professional house sitter. Traveling executives, snowbirds, and custom homebuilders all have a need to safeguard their property while they are away from home. You can fill that need, most often through a placement agency or property management company.

Not only will you be relieved of having to come up with rent money, but you will also be paid for your trouble.

Related: Why You Might Want to Become a Housesitter

4. Stay at a campground.

Did you know that you can rent an inexpensive space at a campground monthly? Not only do you get a quiet, peaceful, and safe place to stay, but often gain such amenities as a game room, laundry, pool, and store.

You can choose from public park campgrounds or private recreational vehicle (RV) campgrounds. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of staying at a public campground are the low cost, the beautiful setting, and the availability of sites, even if all you have is a tent over your head.

The disadvantages of staying at a public campground are the inconsistent amenities, the remote location, and a two-week limit on camping.

If you would like to research various public campgrounds, try You can check vacancies, make advance reservations, compare facilities, and even look at a map of the specific campsites within a park.

If you favor a more civilized lifestyle, consider private RV campgrounds. Many cater to financially sound retirees, and include such luxuries as heated spas, on-site stores and restaurants, and cable television.

Could your debt leave you homeless? Find out if it could and what you can do about it now with this simple checklist.

The advantages of private RV campgrounds are that they generally have a lot of comfort and convenience, they are usually located close to town, and have an unlimited stay.

The disadvantages of staying at a private RV campground include the cost, the varied condition of buildings and grounds, and restrictions (some will not allow pets, tents, or older vehicles).

Be prepared to stay long-term in order to get a discounted rate. For example, my campsite at a luxury RV resort was greatly reduced when I signed a six-month lease. The cost would have dropped even more with a 12- month lease.

Good sources of RV campground information include the following web sites:

Become a camp host at a local park.

Check with your local public campground to see if they have a camp host program. As a camp host, you provide guests with information, security, and cleanly facilities and grounds. In return, you live rent free, and sometimes receive a salary.

You will need to supply your own recreational vehicle in which to stay. Check for openings.

Given these five solutions, you can rest assured that even in the worst case scenario; you will find shelter from the cold.

Reviewed May 2017

Tom Tracey is a Detroit-born writer whose work includes scripts for the Arizona Autoweek TV show, brochures for the "Big 3" automakers, and books for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles (the "Fundamentals" series).

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