No Income: How to Survive Being Fired by Renting to Others

No Income: How to Survive Being Fired by Renting to Others
New York Loft Bedroom

Making Money From Sharing Your Space

I have to admit: I knew my job would be ending before I got fired. Since 2016 I was under a contract that was going to run anywhere from three to six years. So why didn’t I have a big savings account when I was fired for not being vaccinated in November of 2021? (Read my post, here: Vaccination: the 24/7 Helmet You Can Never Remove)

Create a Suite in Your House

I had spent all my savings and every spare dime I had first buying and fixing up an apartment, and then selling that and buying an old house I found at a bargain price and putting a suite in it. (I have my home manifestation story, below. Part of the contractor frustration story, is in this post: How Do You Know You Deserve Help?)

I was frantic to finish the suite before I lost my job. When I think back, I have been under this stress since 2019. Yet 2019 seems like a sweet, innocent year compared to the two that followed. It’s all perspective, isn’t it?!

How Was I Able to do This?

When my son was a toddler, we bought a log cabin out in the Canadian wilderland. I had always dreamed of living on a piece of land, having chickens, and a dirt driveway with grass growing in the middle.

But this place was no one’s dream farm. It was half an hour out of town on a good day. We drove that road in and out sometimes three times a day, depending on work, errands and visiting others, etc. And then there was the water. We’d never lived without city water. We quickly learned what living with a well meant – no water to cook with if someone flushed a toilet before suppertime. My garden didn’t do well because I couldn’t water it. The whole place was on a steep, north-facing hillside. Depressing.

We decided to sell the house and buy in town.

Better Call Up Chuck!

There was this old realtor, nearly retired, who we trusted and frankly, found amusing. This was in 1991.

I owe this guy for the house I have now. That’s how important it is to seek out advice from a seasoned veteran. He knew that sewers were coming for the area of town we were looking at and that lot size requirements would be less.

He sold us a duplex that sat on a very large lot. We became landlords and inherited long-term tenants next door. Immediately, our mortgage was covered. Having relief from the stress of covering payments made for very happy days for me. My garden flourished and eventually, we were able to subdivide.

Housing – Great Investment and a lot of Work

I am not sure what the future holds for real estate but for me, it has been a great investment. No matter what people tell you, to make money in the long run, you can’t be “passive”. It takes a great deal of work, money, and a lot of learning with the frustration that goes along with that to be able to make a place “pay” when you sell it.

The reward comes when you can sell a place for more than you paid and put into it.

I have owned, with my ex, seven properties since 1984. In each place, we learned how to fix everything that was broken (or make the best of it). We sourced as much as we could secondhand and learned how to do things ourselves. Things like changing light fixtures, spackling a ceiling, mudding, sanding, and painting walls. Eventually we learned how to install various types of flooring, re-do baseboards and other molding, and anything else we thought would make the house or apartment look and function better.

Research & Then Be Brave

When my ex and I divorced in 2014, we divided everything up 50/50. There was enough equity in our home to give us each a down payment for another property. He bought a house with a rental suite right away but it took me over two years before I finally worked up enough courage to buy my own apartment.

The place I found was badly in need of paint, flooring, and a few modifications but in a great area of town.

I was terrified. Could I fix this place up on my own? I took it slowly and came up with a plan. Hiring out the tough stuff like plumbing and electrical made sense but I would tackle the painting and small fixes myself.

New York Loft Living

I like to have a “theme” when I imagine a finished space. When I need to make purchases, I can choose things that fit the general idea of what look I’m going for. For my apartment, I chose: New York Loft. Can you imagine Greenwich Village in the 60s and how cool it must have been to be surrounded by artists, musicians, and the avant garde?

I splurged on a real granite countertop because I fell in love with its beauty. I told myself it was like artwork. Never before had I allowed myself to make such an expensive purchase. I watched videos on how to do a faux brick wall, I bought chandeliers and outrageous red wallpaper for my ensuite bathroom…and I had the floors done in sustainable wood from Quebec.

My apartment became a sanctuary for me. I did a lot of healing over the two years I was there. Yet one day it occurred to me: I should sell it.

Back to My Suite

One morning, the idea just popped into my head. This happens to me a lot. Usually, these ideas are good ones and worth pursuing. Where do they come from? THAT is for another post….

After doing some math, I realized that selling the apartment and buying a house might be worth looking into. The strata for the apartment kept going up and up and there was nothing I could do about it. I wanted to rent out a part of my space to others but the spare room in my apartment was too small for a bed!

A house with a suite would allow me to bring in some money to help pay for my mortgage.

I thought hard about what kind of tenants I was most comfortable with and realized I liked the energy of students. They would have a time limit and be leaving after a few semesters so I wouldn’t have to put up with any annoying students forever.

Manifesting My Dream Home

This narrowed down my choices of where the house should be located: near the university. Prices are higher for houses located nearby so what I needed was a somewhat dilapidated house where the owners hadn’t bothered to paint or do anything for years. I made a list of “needs” and “wants.” At the top of the list was a house with a suite – or the potential for one.

And boy! Did I find the perfect house! Here is the post where I talk about the manifestation of the house I wanted: Buying a Fixer-Upper: Back to 1975, Baby!

The suite I envisioned was a two bedroom place where I could rent out each room separately. I wanted it to be simple and fun so I kept the hardwearing parquet floor and used playful, bright colours for the countertop and accents. I made sure they had their own laundry and a separate entrance so that they felt comfortable in their space and I in mine.

Do I want to live in only half my house with potentially noisy students below? No, of course not. But when I get the monthly rent, I don’t hear a thing! Seriously, renting my space allows me to pay the mortgage. Of course I still have taxes, insurance, utilities, and repair costs to cover.

Jabless Jobs

Only one thing I know for sure: I want to keep my house. I have to make some money.

Doing the same sort of work for half the pay when my heart isn’t in it has had me stalling when looking for work. Most of the good paying jobs require their employees to be vaccinated now so I am embarrassed to even apply, in case they ask me. I really don’t want to provoke anyone. I just want my medical information to be private – you know, like it used to be.

There is a job site where employers are listing positions for anyone without discriminating against people who want to remain vaccine free:

But in the meantime, I decided to try renting out my spare room to another student so I wouldn’t feel so stressed out.

A New Roommate!

I went online and found a site called “Roomies”:

I like to find tenants by reading their write-ups and choosing them myself, rather than having several contacting me. So I saw a guy on Roomies who seemed like just the sort of guy who would make a good tenant. He is older and needs a place only for a couple months while he pursues some trades upgrading. I put up an ad, messaged him, and he wrote back. We quickly came to an agreement and he moved in the same night!

It has been really great getting to know someone else and hearing about their experiences. He’s helped me shovel the driveway and put up new blinds in his room!

The rent will help keep me from panicking so that I can focus on finding work I enjoy without feeling like I have to rush to replace my lost wages.


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