House Hack - Single Family Home vs. Multi-Unit?

2 Replies

Currently looking to house hack in Richmond/Fredericksburg, VA. The properties I've been finding, however, are either out of my price range or are in high crime areas. The goal with house hacking is to live for free, so you need to make sure you can charge enough rent in the other unit(s) to offset the mortgage. I found a beautiful duplex that was priced at $280,000 with the one side being rented out for $900 a month. The estimated mortgage costs would have been around $1630 though, so I ultimately still would've still been paying over $700 a month. Definitely not bad, but I'd like to keep the mortgage costs under $300 if I can with the ultimate goal of having the rent cover the entire mortgage. I'm now considering pursuing a single-family home and potentially renting out several rooms in the property in order to house hack. I would like some feedback on this if anyone has tried this?

Should I just settle for a single-family home to house hack or continue looking for a multi-unit property? The pro with a duplex is the fact that you have your own space. Again, the issue is the just price for these types of properties are very high or in crime ridden areas. Any feedback or opinions would be appreciated.

Thank you!

@Mark Millich

I bought an SFR in '12 that i rented rooms out of up til today. Now I have one room rented to a very close friend who is never home and i really don't mind being around. My advice- really consider what you want for yourself, short and long term when making this decision. In a duplex you'd have the option to house hack and still have your space at the same time. If you have multiple bedrooms in the duplex, you can also rent out rooms in the side which you occupy as well as renting out the other unit which is nice if you're trying to squeeze every dollar out of it.

Also note- house hacking is not going to save you any more money than renting a property and having roommates. The only benefit is the mortgage paydown (which is near zero early in the amortization schedule anyways), and the very low downpayment. This means that you can go rent a place, and (if you have the cash) put money down on a non-owner occupied rental property that may be a better income generator since you no longer have to consider factors that may or may not make you want to live in it. 

Me at 23 in hindsight (this was also in a low market) should have bought a fourplex and hacked the hell out of it. Me at 30 now, would buy a house and an investment property on the side + keep the two separate. If i'm going to househack, it's purely out of convenience & hacking is not a big part of my "which house do I buy" decision.

I would consider your investing options and not force yourself into a househack. They aren't always as profitable as people think anyway. Some things to think about with them-
You can buy straight investment properties and rent where you live, as an alternative. Various scenarios are out there.