I knew that some day I wanted to own a home. I was never really sure how or when that would become a reality, but I made some decisions that created a path without ever paying rent.
1) Resident Assistant
As an undergraduate I was hired to be a Resident Assistant (RA) my sophomore year, and I stayed in the role until I graduated. This on campus job covered my room and board, which saved my family a lot of money.
2) Graduate Assistant
During my Senior year, I looked for graduate assistant positions that would help to cover my graduate school tuition. My experience as an RA, gave me the experience necessary to be hired as a Graduate Resident Director. As a grad RD, I worked 20 hours a week managing a residence hall on campus, and supervising a staff of undergraduate RAs. In exchange, I received a stipend, my tuition was covered, and I had an apartment on campus, and a meal plan.
3) Moving Back Home
Along my path living and working on campus had allowed me to fund my education and live on my own. So when the next job came and didn't include the benefit of housing, I needed to make a decision. My father invited me to live with him so that I could save money on rent. Moving back home was a bit of an adjustment. Many of my friends had apartments and therefore had a more "independent" lifestyle. Meanwhile, I was home with Dad. I put the money I would have paid in rent, into a savings account. After about a year and a half, I had saved enough money for a down payment on a small condo.
Today, I find that several of my friends that have been paying rent for the past few years are now struggling to continue to pay rent while also saving enough money for a down payment. The money that they had put toward rent is gone, while the money I have put toward my mortgage is more of an investment. I was fortunate that my dad was willing to have me live with him rent free. And while at the time, it was a bit humbling, it set me on a path to home ownership.