The Help
August 13, 2011 7:17 AM   Subscribe

How do we go about "renting" a room in our Austin house in exchange for part time childcare and light housekeeping/errands. What should we expect in terms of help? What about other considerations?

We have a house in central Austin in a desirable neighborhood (near Clarksville) near a bus line and the university. We have 4 bedrooms, of which only the two on the first story that are used by us and Toddler Murrey. The two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs are rarely used and we were thinking of exchanging free rent to a student for some childcare and light housekeeping. We have many unanswered questions.

1. How much time per week or month would be a fair exchange for free rent? We would like someone to watch Toddler Murrey --sometimes during the day, sometimes at night. We have a lot of flexibility since I work from home most of the time. We would also like this person to do light housekeeping (vacuuming, cleaning counters, etc) or run errands.

I suppose a lot depends on how much we could charge for rent. I am guessing 500-600/month for a room since our house is in such a great neighborhood, close to bus line/downtown. Do you keep a schedule with this person on hours worked? How do we sell this to someone?

2. What are the downsides to sharing your house? Until Toddler Murrey moves upstairs, the entire upstairs is basically unused by us. Both Mr. Murrey and myself are fairly introverted so we both automatically shutter a little bit at the thought of sharing our house. But we have a lot of living space downstairs and three outdoor living spaces to retreat to if necessary.

3. Would you make both upstairs rooms available to the person? Mr. Murrey uses one as an office (rarely), but we could easily move him out and give this person their own suite of rooms (living room, bathroom and bedroom). Would you "charge" more for this? Should we start with just the one room and see if they would want more?

4. Food and kitchen. I hate the thought of dealing with someone else's meals. Is it reasonable to expect them to pay for and deal with their own meals?

5. Just in case... What if a person isn't working out? Could you put in a trial period (say one month)?

6. What would be a fair guest policy? The idea of strangers in our house is fairly problematic for me, but I also recognize the need to be fair. What is acceptable? I would think no overnight guests would be an acceptable I wrong here?

7. How do we go about finding someone. We would do a background check and check references.
posted by murrey to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you should do this given your stated level of discomfort with having other people in your home. You're asking a university student to never have overnight guests -- never have a boyfriend, never have a parent come to visit, etc.

That might be reasonable if she was an employee who lived in only during the week and had somewhere else she went on days off, but asking someone to simply never have that kind of social contact isn't really fair.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:34 AM on August 13, 2011 [30 favorites]

Maid for You cleans homes in Austin. Four hours of cleaning for $75. So, 4 hours of cleaning per week is worth $300 of the $550 rent, leaving $250-worth of babysitting and running errands per month. I suspect that doesn't go very far for a live-in nanny (nanny salary in Austin).
posted by Houstonian at 7:36 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with jacquilynne. What would really be the reason someone would take this deal for you?

To comment directly:

1. If you wanted to calculate the worth of the space you are offering to let / sublet, look up usual rents in your area for such a sized place. Then figure out how much time you want childcare for. See what comes up to a reasonable hourly rate, like $15 or $20 / hour.

2. Downsides are the ability to trust your new roommate. Just like getting a new roommate off Craig's List or whatnot.

3. Probably. What size are the rooms?

4. That is not reasonable. Would you rent some rooms from someone who wanted you to take care of their kid yet not be allowed to use the kitchen?

5. Set any expectations like that up front, in writing, in the contract.

6. A fair guest policy would be for the person to be able to treat the rooms like their own place, which it would be. I don't think you can reasonably restrict any guests. You could set a stipulation that any guests cannot be rowdy or whatnot.

7. Dunno. Employment services office at colleges? Why not just look into a real nanny and go through a nanny agency?

Also, it's "shudder", not "shutter".
posted by reddot at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, rent as this person's only compensation is not going to get you the kind of individual you want. You need a live-in nanny/housekeeper. The room, depending on several factors, can be a perk, or it could be outweighed by an impression of being "on call" at all hours, given that he/she lives with you.

I think it makes sense to figure out a market value for the room, then come up with an hourly rate you'd be willing to spend on housekeeping/childcare. Figure out how many hours of each you need (and be sure to stress that he/she would only be your employee during those hours, and your tenant for the rest) and reconcile that with the value of the room. What's left over would be his/her salary.

I had a friend growing up with a live-in nanny. Based on that, it could be a good situation, or you could realize quickly that a trial period is a great idea.
posted by supercres at 7:46 AM on August 13, 2011

As a student, I imagine I would have been willing to do 10 hours a week of work for free rent living with a family. This doesn't mean 40 hours a month, it would have to be spread out evenly, and would have to exclude exam week. I would not expect to have you make my meals; I would expect to be allowed to use the kitchen at any time, and to leave my food in the kitchen, etc. I would expect to be allowed overnight guests occasionally, if I had a friend or family member visit, if I had a boyfriend stay, etc.

I would expect that I could have friends over for tv, dinner, studying, etc, though I would realise that there is a toddler there and noise would need to be an issue.

You could put in a trial period, but if it isn't working out at the end of the trial period, you still need to give the person time to find a new place.
posted by jeather at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

I think your expectations are veering towards pretty unreasonable, to be honest. A student is just not going to have the time to be a live-in nanny. Either rent the room normally to a student, or find a live-in nanny for hire. Either way you're going to have to share your kitchen. Students these days are going to expect a lot-overnight guests, common room, kitchen access. It sounds to me like you really want a nanny.
posted by Nixy at 7:56 AM on August 13, 2011 [5 favorites]

I had several friends in college who had housing situations like this. I'll respond to two specific points:

"4. Food and kitchen. I hate the thought of dealing with someone else's meals. Is it reasonable to expect them to pay for and deal with their own meals?"

There are two methods for doing this: Either you clear out a cabinet and some fridge space and they cook for themselves (buying own food, etc.), or else you treat them as a member of the family and they eat with you -- you shop, you cook, you set them aside some leftovers. Usually they buy their own snack food. Most maintained on-campus mealplans for lunch so you'd take that into consideration. You figure it into the price either way.

"6. What would be a fair guest policy? The idea of strangers in our house is fairly problematic for me, but I also recognize the need to be fair. What is acceptable? I would think no overnight guests would be an acceptable I wrong here?"

NONE of my friends who lived in a situation like this was allowed overnight guests except one who lived in an actual detached guest house. I'm honestly a little surprised at the number of people saying students would expect to be allowed to have overnight guests while living in a private home.

Most of my friends who did this were not expected to do housecleaning (other than their own space, and cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen). Many, however, traded childcare for a break in the rent, especially those majoring in education or ECE or similar.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:05 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could always just rent the room for cash and put the money towards hiring a nanny and/or housekeeper. That would be waaaay simpler and you wouldn't be setting up a bunch of weird expectations on both sides that might or might not get met.

For you, I'd recommend posting an ad for grad students only, since you seem to want someone chill and introverted like yourself.

I think no OVERNIGHT guests is probably reasonable, but other than that, you really would need to allow guests. Yeah, they'd definitely need access to the kitchen, but you wouldn't be responsible for feeding them or anything.

The trial period thing... eh. Honestly, no student with sense would agree to a trial period shorter than a full semester. Have you ever tried to rent a place in a college town in October?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2011

Free rent in exchange for labor may not even be legal in your jurisdiction.

In the event that it is, you are talking about combining two potentially hairy areas. First, domestic labor. There are tax liabilities and other legal issues. Second is tenant law. You would be this person's landlord. Which means if you want/need them to move out, there are very specific ways you have to accomplish that.

Of course, there are agencies who can help guide you through this process. Google found this list of tips

Here's a page aimed at prospective nannies

Here's something about the tax issues. I have no idea if this is current, correct, etc.

I agree with those above who suggest either renting to a student or hiring a nanny. Now, of course there's the possibility that you really like the student and they're great with Toddler Murrey. If that happens to be the case, and scheduling works out, they might pick up some babysitting hours in exchange for cheaper rent/cash. But don't count on it.
posted by bilabial at 8:16 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who was recently looking into this kind of situation (as a renter) and decided against it, here were my thoughts, if it would be helpful to think about it from another perspective. (and, fwiw I'm probably the kind of person you would get-- young, lots of experience with kids, responsible and with good references, but still a young person with a job and social life outside of your family.)

I was worried that I'd be exchanging free rent for a significant drop in freedom. How would the childcare thing work out-- would there be set hours, or would my hosts decide at 5pm on a friday night that they were going out and I needed to babysit? How flexible would I have to be and how flexible would my hosts be willing to be?

How would it affect my social life to not feel like I could have people over? Would staying out late or not coming home make the parents think I was too irresponsible to care for their kid and put my living situation in jeopardy? Although, honestly, I think the overnight guests thing is reasonable. Or at least maybe having the person run their overnight guests past you in advance.

And not being able to use the kitchen would have been a deal breaker. I couldn't tell if you meant that you didn't want to cook for them or that you didn't want them to use the kitchen. I think not cooking for them is reasonable (in my case would probably have been preferable), but unless someone is on some kind of cafeteria plan at their university, not having access to a kitchen is going to be a huge budget strain and possibly make the hassle of such a situation not worth it.

Oh, and as to your last question, I've seen things like this advertised in craigslist rentals. I think as long as you meet the person first and take references, that's as safe as any other venue.

I think this could work. But I think you have to be really intentional about recognizing that free rent doesn't mean that it's reasonable to expect someone to drop whatever else is going on in their lives. I think it might work better if you exchanged discounted rent for house keeping and hired an outside babysitter or your tenant on a case-by-case basis. Housekeeping is so much more flexible and less emotional (for you) than childcare.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:22 AM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

In terms of overnight guests, I think that a policy of a notice (let you know when someone is coming), no opposite sex overnight guests, and a limit of 2 nights is fair. That way their friend from high school can come stay over, their parents, whatever.

Consider an Au Pair, the agency will help you with many of these issues.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2011

I agree with the young rope-rider. An au pair situation might be a better arrangement for you. I took over as a nanny for an au pair from Holland and they had a nicely structured arrangement - room and board, a set number of hours a day to work, but since the goal is supposed to be for the au pair to learn about another culture and practice their language skills, it's not the same situation as working around a full time student's schedule. They are compensated but it's much less than a nanny - since they work fewer hours, that's fair in my opinion.
posted by lemniskate at 8:30 AM on August 13, 2011

no opposite sex overnight guests

So they can git sum as long as they're gay? I think you're better off either setting an across-the-board no overnights or just setting a standard for quiet.

We know someone who entered into a deal with someone for a more special-needs kind of condition but it can be done. You may want to see if you can find someone via the uni who is in child development or perhaps a nursing student with an interest in youth specialization.
posted by phearlez at 8:32 AM on August 13, 2011

What would it take to add an outside staircase and separate entrance to your upstairs? If that is doable, would it make you feel better or worse about having strangers in your house but not traipsing through your living area?

And clarify that childcare thing. It sounds like people are assuming you want it all the time, or at any time that you dictate with no notice. But my thought was that maybe once a week sit down with the renter and make a plan for specific times of childcare based on what you need vs their availability, and you make adjustments if the times don't work for everyone. That seems very reasonable to me. You could request last-minute care, with no obligation for the renter to agree, and maybe that gets paid as if s/he were an independent babysitter.
posted by CathyG at 8:34 AM on August 13, 2011

In my area, lots of people do au pairs and live-in nannies, so I see a lot of discussions about how this is done.

I think that the major challenges in your situation are:

- the implication that this person is "on call"
It would really only be fair if she was asked to be on a regular sitting schedule... Tuesday and Thursday mornings, for example (could change with the semester). (And obviously you could ASK her to do a date night here and there, FOR MONEY)

- doing the math
* If a room rents in Austin for $500/month and you expect 40 hours of babysitting per month (at $10/hour?), this isn't that attractive of a deal for a student.

- housekeeping
I wouldn't add to the arrangement with housekeeping and/or errands. Your primary goal should be finding someone who is a good tenant and a good sitter. Being a good housekeeper is the lowest priority, in my eyes.

All-in-all, if you're not too keen on having a tenant, I wouldn't try to make this work.
posted by k8t at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

So they can git sum as long as they're gay? I think you're better off either setting an across-the-board no overnights or just setting a standard for quiet.

My assumption is that they're female and that having strange women in their house would be much more comfortable for everyone than having strange men in their house.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like to me what you really want/need is an au pair,. I've known a few Aussies that have gone and done this in the UK and had a great time, and some that have had very bad experiences.

It might be worth doing some searching online to find out what sort of arrangements they've set up. A quick google search of the term shows they do something similar in the USl. If nothing else researching au pairs might give you some more ideas on how to set your own arrangements.

Most of the girls I know that did this had their own room & bathroom, got paid an allowance, ate with the families or at least with the kids and had most evenings and during the days to themselves as most of their work was that early evening after school crazy time. I don't know of one that was allowed to bring anyone to stay over and if they had a boyfriend they just went to his place.
posted by wwax at 8:40 AM on August 13, 2011

I was a grad student in Austin and maybe would have considered something like this provided the duties were very spelled out and not too extensive. Under the best case scenario (everything works as expected long-term with no resentment) the terms would have to be in my favor fairly significantly to compensate for the high chance that things go wrong (you turn out to be demanding, resentful, want to kick me out on short notice, etc.). So something like 10-20 hours a month of babysitting and cleaning. Other than that, I would have been okay with one room, separate cooking, and no overnight guests. If it was more like 40 hours a month, there's no way I'd consider it.
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:48 AM on August 13, 2011

Are you going to be ok with your family not being this person's top priority? Because if they're a student in this arrangement, you will not be, no matter how helpful and considerate they are, and nor should you be, because they are there to get a degree first.

Before you go any further, I think you should do some serious math on how many hours you need and how flexible those hours are. How will you feel when you need to pay another sitter because your tenant is out of town/busy/accepted a date? Are you expecting to have zero cleaning and childcare costs beyond the room, or is this just part of it? What will you do during breaks? The more concrete you can be now about what would make this worth it for you, the easier I think to figure out if it could be worth it for someone else.

From my point of view, I wouldn't touch it from either side of the arrangement, but I know others have and survived!
posted by crabintheocean at 8:51 AM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think that you need a nanny or au pair -- you want your kids to come first and be his/her main job, not something that he/she is dragged into doing just to earn the rent. A college student is going to have multiple priorities before babysitting -- studying, socializing, research, etc. That's just how it is -- students are just self-interested at that age.

I would think that a college student might loose his/her enthusiasm for the gig over time and that the potential for resentment exists.

That said, Texas is a very landlord-friendly state that makes evictions easy, so you could either rent the room out and use the money towards a nanny/housekeeper or give the situation a try. It just doesn't seem like it's worth the risk to me.
posted by Ostara at 8:51 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Instead of a college student, what about an older, retired person? You might even be able to exchange the childcare and housework for reduced rent, which could be attractive to someone with additional income such as a pension. It should also help aliviate some concerns about sharing the house.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

One more thing - I think "no overnight guests" could be ok, but only if you are ok with this person staying out all night without having to give you notice, and only if this is a term time rather than all year round gig.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2011

I agree that this sounds like something beyond your comfort zone. I was the student in this situation once, and it just didn't work out well for the family.

1. I was initially expected to do 10 hours of work (mostly tutoring of the kids), but their schedules were so haywire that I really couldn't be as flexible as they wanted me to be because of my own school/work schedule. They knew my schedule ahead of time but somehow thought I'd work around their schedule instead. That didn't work well. They sort of expected me to be available on short notice--I wanted a firmer schedule (at least a week ahead of time) so I could plan my life. I ended up doing more housekeeping than tutoring because of the scheduling difficulties, but even then, there was an expectation that I would do the cleaning around their schedules (preferably when they weren't home), and their schedules made that difficult. I didn't do errand running because I didn't want to use my car for that kind of work.

If you go ahead with this, I think you really need to define what kind of help you need and how much of it and nail that down so you and this person are on the same page with the same expectations. PLEASE communicate your expectations clearly from the start and don't assume that this person will know what you're thinking. Build in weekly check-in/scheduling times so the person doesn't feel like they're on call.

2. I think this was the biggest problem for the family I worked for. I'm a very unobtrusive person and kept to my own space (on a separate floor), but they definitely felt my presence more than they thought. Are you really willing to "retreat" to other spaces in your own home? Or can you live your life as-is without really thinking about the other person that much. Will it bother you if you hear them get up in the night? What if they'd like to come home after you've gone to bed? Will you be able to live with a reasonable level of music occasionally? Overhear their TV or movies? Will you worry about the noise you're making if you get up during the night or if your child is sick? If you are very private and introverted, this is probably not a great trade off for you. The family I lived with found that out very quickly even though I don't think I could have been any quieter or unobtrusive than I was.

Will this person have a separate entrance? How much of your space will they have to go through to get to their spaces? Are you comfortable with this person seeing you in your PJs if you're hanging out in the living room when they come home? I had a separate entrance and didn't have to go through a shared space, but I can imagine this would have been problematic for the family I stayed with. It's not reasonable for you to expect them to go through without saying Hi or something. Are you ok with a few minutes of small talk when you do interact? Or will you unduly worry if they're not home by a certain time? You're talking about an adult here--do you want to have them check in with you or give you an idea when they'll be home? Lots of things to consider on this question...

What about school vacations? What about summer? What if they don't meet their 10 hour obligation? Do they pay you for the difference in time or make it up the next week? Will you have a timecard for them to fill out? Will you trust them to put in the time? How will you manage this person's work and schedule? Will they have sick time? Time off for finals? Can they bank hours ahead of time if they have a busy week? Will it annoy you every time you hear them talk on the phone? Will you be comfortable if they'd like to have a glass of wine in your home? If they keep stinky cheese in the fridge or leave restaurant leftovers too long for your liking? Don't do their dishes immediately? Remember all those things that annoyed you about having a roommate when you were that age? Are you ready to deal with all those again? What about laundry access? Will you have them buy their own soap or is your soap one of the perks? Do you have room to store a second set of laundry things? Etc. Etc...

3. I think the more space, the better, especially if you don't want them in your shared space. Of course, you could define that extra room as "shared space that is mostly yours" in that Mr. Murrey may be able to leave his desk and use it when the person isn't there. (My living room was partly a play room when I wasn't there, but the kids couldn't use it when I was there, so this kind of thing could work). However, I think if you are a private person, you want this person to have enough space for their own TV/couch/etc. Additionally, you might want to give them a way to lock up some of their belongings (lock on the bedroom or a locked closet). They have to trust you and any of your guests (strangers to them) with their stuff, too. I appreciated having a locking closet, even though I didn't expect any problems. I would not charge more for this and would consider it a price for keeping this person in their own space more than in yours.

4. This was sort of problematic for me in the long run. My arrangement included room and dinner, which was just leftovers of whatever the family was eating. They did not want me to eat with them because that was family time for them (totally reasonable), but it was kind of weird waiting for them to bring my dinner and then eat alone. They did this because they didn't want to share the kitchen. I knew that going in, but they provided me with a mini fridge and microwave in my living area, which sort of made up for it. However, it meant that I never really felt at home there and knew I didn't want to keep up the arrangement long term. It's not really fun washing dishes in a bathroom sink and not really having a place to put my few kitchen things. However, if you share a kitchen, it's not like you can schedule it's use that closely. What if the person wants cereal and 10:00 at night or make their own dinner at the same time as you? Will that bother you?

5. We didn't have a specific trial period, but after a couple of months it was clear that the family underestimated how much my living there would affect their family patterns. For them, the benefits didn't outweigh the costs in terms of just being themselves when they were home (even though I *never* went into their family space unasked). If you do this, though, you really need to give them sufficient time to find a new place. And they may decide that the situation isn't right for them either.

6. I think you'd want to work this out with the person. I think we had a no non-family overnight guest understanding, but family was ok. But I think this person should reasonably be expected to have friends over for socializing or studying. You may ask that they socialize only in their area, but this is another thing that I think makes this plan less feasible for you. You can't really control an adult's desire to have friends over. The family I lived with was pretty lucky in that I was introverted too, and didn't really have friends over--my friends all lived in small spaces, so I would meet them in public places instead.

7. I found it through a college job service on campus.

TL:DR--Given your concerns, I don't think this is a good fit for you. If you'll always be self-conscious about being yourself in your own home because someone else is there (and maybe their friends, occasionally), the mental tax is likely not worth the minimal benefit. For the family I lived with, they had envisioned an extra pair of helping hands when they needed it. I envisioned a part time job with a schedule I knew a week ahead of time. They seemed to agree to the scheduling thing when that wasn't really what they wanted at all, which led to a lot of dissatisfaction on their part. If what you really want someone silent and invisible who you can ask to help out when the need arises, I think this isn't a reasonable solution. If you're ready to deal with all the complexities of a college-aged roommate who helps you pay your obligations through their labor, you may make this work, but it's likely to be more complex and trying than you anticipate.
posted by BlooPen at 9:05 AM on August 13, 2011 [9 favorites]

Oh, and there wasn't really any resentment in my situation--just a recognition on both sides that it wasn't working out. Neither side had done something like this before and the expectations just didn't match up. They didn't want to fire me or ask me to move, but they were relieved when I found other living arrangements and gave them my notice. I think they hired a housekeeper and tutor after I left and found that arrangement much more to their liking--the expense was worth having their house all to themselves.
posted by BlooPen at 9:09 AM on August 13, 2011

I am guessing 500-600/month for a room since our house is in such a great neighborhood ....

I don't see much of an upside to this for any tenant. Free rent is not enough, in my opinion. It should be free rent PLUS an hourly wage for any duties performed.

You can get an efficiency in Hyde Park for $500 or $600 a month, without having to deal with a family that doesn't let you have overnight guests and wants you to take your meals elsewhere. Yeah, no thanks.
posted by jayder at 10:10 AM on August 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: To clarify, I would assume the kitchen is shared space...I just don't want to prepare meals or do someone else's food shopping. That is why the au pair thing doesn't seem to fit.

As for "on call", I would not expect that at all. I was thinking more of a keep track of any time cleaning and setting a flexible, week by week schedule for babysitting. I work from home so I do not need someone at any given time and am prepared to work around someone else's schedule. It would also be nice for a date night every so often.
posted by murrey at 11:01 AM on August 13, 2011

Whatever an apartment similar in size & location typically rents for, yours will be worth considerably less. That typical apartment has far fewer restrictions as to how it's used -- no worries about guests, few worries about noise, and a separate kitchen that one can wander about in one's underwear. Every restriction you impose reduces the value of your rooms to potential tenants, whether they work for you or not.
posted by jon1270 at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2011 [5 favorites]

Just wanted to note one thing: the more restrictions you put on, (in particular the restrictions that an average person wouldn't want to live with like no guests, etc.), the more you are restricting yourself to people who are desperate for somewhere to live, for money, or both.

Now, I've certainly been in that position in my life, especially during college, so nothing against people who really need money/a place to live, but just saying, you might be eliminating more stable people.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:54 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

A flexible week by week schedule more or less still is "on call." A date night every now and then is also nebulous. Sorry but this is not something that's as casual as you think it is- it's a strict business arrangement. "every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-9" is a schedule. If you plan date nights months in advance, it's a schedule. You'd have to sit down and look at her entire semester holidays and class times and finals, too. Maybe this is just me, but I feel like you're leaving a lot of room for resentment to brew on both sides unless you treat it as an established business arrangement. That's why patterns and rules for "renters" and "nannies" exist-people have refined them over time.
posted by Nixy at 12:37 PM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

Having done this as a renter/sitter/au pair, with memorably bad results, here's a point that hasn't been mentioned. Not knowing you and Partner Murrey, I of course don't mean anything personal by this, but make sure that your communication as a couple is at its absolute best before bringing a third adult, even a young one, into the home.

The problem where I was "stationed" was not flirtation or impropriety or anything like that--it was that the parents did not communicate with one another, used me as a go-between, and generally expected (I think subconsciously) that I should defuse a tense home environment. Never again!
posted by skbw at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2011

The value of this is significantly less than the value of a rental apartment because the restrictions on overnight guests, etc. would not apply to a rental apartment. Then, the work is pretty demanding, even if you're not looking to get that many hours out of them, especially since their schedule has to at least be flexible for you.

What's fair for child care and light house cleaning and errands and having inconsistent hours? $20 an hour? That gives you, what, 25 hours a month? Keep in mind they can presumably go get a job and use that to pay for housing, so you can't calculate the rate too low. I just don't see how this is a good deal for you or the potential help--you don't want someone in your space and don't want to or can't afford to get someone who can really provide more value in that role.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:49 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can get an efficiency in Hyde Park for $500 or $600 a month

I live in Hyde Park and pay $625 a month for a decent one-bedroom with approx 600 square feet. And I am on the UT intramural fields bus line (goes right outside my door, the bus stop is about 60 feet away). There are efficiencies across the street, I don't know what they rent for. I have been here five years or so so my rent is a reflection of being an established tenant with a record of paying rent on time. Though the complex got sold to new owners in the past few months, so I don't know if they will jack the rent up significantly on me or not.

But yeah, $500-$600 of free rent several miles to the north, not on a bus line, probably not as good a deal as you might believe.

And I am not a student, so I don't use the bus line. I work two miles away though... I have put 30k miles on my car in the span of 7 years, so location is a huge premium for me.
posted by marble at 11:40 PM on August 13, 2011

I'm currently living as a lodger in someone's home and I would never, ever live anywhere that did not permit me to invite overnight guests. I'm in my 20s, and like many my age I have a partner. Inviting one-night stands back is one thing - it's understandable you wouldn't want a different stranger there each week - but remember that many students will be in their first or second serious relationship at that age and this might cause tension down the line if they acquire a partner. I think it will be an unappealing prospect if the arrangement comes with restricting conditions.
posted by mippy at 12:11 PM on August 14, 2011

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