First Person: Nearly 900,000 Shared Households in Illinois: We Were One of Them

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According to the Chicago Tribune, there are nearly 900,000 shared households in Illinois, which is almost 19 percent of all households. In the related article on the subject by Mary Ellen Podmolik, she notes that a "shared household" means that "...someone extra was living there, whether it was an adult child no longer in school, a relative or a nonrelative, according to the Census Bureau data…" And this number has actually decreased by .5 percent in Illinois since 2010.

Not so long ago, our family could be counted (for a short time at least) among this number. And while multi-generational living can strain relations at times, there are certain financial benefits that we recognized from the situation.

Savings

There can be huge savings for both sides of a shared household situation. In our case, our in-laws provided us with a living location. This helped us save on what was previously a mortgage and other home ownership costs that averaged right around $2,200 a month including utilities. But the savings weren't all one-sided. While we did chip in for food, we weren't necessarily saving the in-laws money in that area. However, being around the house, we were able to help them out with things like home care, cleaning, maintenance, and yard work. In turn, they were able to save on certain home repairs and eliminate their yard service, saving them about $300 to $400 a month.

Our Home Search

Another valuable aspect of living in a shared household was that of being able to conduct our new home search at ease. There was no rush to find something before our home sold. There was no having to leave for home showings while our home was on the market. There was no pressure to select a home just to have somewhere to go. We had the time to look for and find a home that fit our needs best and that was the best financial situation as well. In turn, this helped us find a spot that was affordable enough to purchase outright, thereby avoiding a mortgage and its associated upfront costs as well as interest payments over time, cutting thousands of dollars -- and likely tens of thousands of dollars -- off our eventual home ownership costs.

Negotiating a Great Home Deal

Without the stress and pressure of having to find a place quickly, we were more confident in our stance when it came to negotiating a home deal. We felt that we could dictate the terms of our agreement, and if we couldn't, then we had the opportunity to move on to find something more suited to our personal and financial needs. There were "other fish in the sea" so to speak, and we had the time to fish for them.

Therefore, when we came across a home that we felt would be perfect for our situation, but the price wasn't quite right, we felt that we could push the sellers a bit more than we might have otherwise. Knowing that we had a rent-free living situation that we could retreat to should our negotiations fail, provided us with the confidence to forge ahead with our negotiation tactics. Eventually, this paid off, and we were able to get the home we wanted for a price nearly 18 percent less than the sellers had initially listed it at.

The shared living situation, even though it hadn't lasted years, had provided us with the savings and time we needed to regroup and figure out what we wanted and where. It also gave us the confidence necessary to push a little harder in our home search than we might have otherwise, while at the same time helping our in-laws out around the house and saving them a little cash too.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

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Sources:

Podmolik, Mary Ellen. Chicago Tribune. "Doubled-up households in Illinois on the decline." November 29, 2012. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-29/business/ct-biz-1129-double-up-20121129_1_young-adults-adult-children-households. November 30, 2012

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