I like the way this guy thinks ...
When Chris Aune moved back home — home being Los Angeles County's far-flung, tract housing-ridden Antelope Valley — and began looking for somewhere to settle down, the last thing he wanted to do was to buy one of the cookie-cutter, 3,000-square-foot boxes that defined his youth. Instead, he sought out a home that was smaller, more central, and possessed character. He wound up settling on an older, Mission-style abode in the city of Lancaster. But after some time, he found that the 1,400-square-foot digs were simply too big. He didn't need all the space. He brought in a roommate, a solution that helped to fill up the space and pay for the mortgage. But that didn't keep.
And so, in an effort to both live in a truly rightsized space and enjoy a sense of financial freedom, Aune did away with many of his possessions, moved into his home's two-car detached garage, and began renting out his entire home, the "front house," for $1,200/month — a figure that covers his monthly mortgage payments and then some. Aune spent $30,000 fully renovating said garage before moving on in, transforming it into a 575-square-foot cottage that's comfortable, attractive, and, thanks to revised zoning regulations, completely up to code. His car, which doesn't see much action anyway given that Aune bikes to work each day, now lives in the driveway.
Explains Aune of his digs to Johnny Sanphillippo: "This is not a trade-off — I love this space. This is exactly kind of what I always wanted to do but wasn't able to do with the zoning that we had, which most cities do not allow." Aune notes that his current living situation is temporary — if circumstances change, he might move back into the main home and rent out the erstwhile garage while still supplementing his mortgage (or move his mother into the space when the time comes). "In terms of getting your finances in order and doing something that makes sense in the long-term, to me, that's freedom."
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