Is it a good idea to rent out office spaces ($200/month) and sleep there instead of a home?

Mar 4, 2015
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I need to get started on studying for my MCAT, but I am living alone, with some debt and I am fending for myself. I live with 3 loud roommates that don't leave me alone and I pay 850 for rent plus electric and food . The area that I am in has expensive housing, wages are low and I am unable to find any cheap residential homes. But there are plenty of nonresidential office spaces on Craigslist.

On craigslist, I found several office spaces for rent (WITH ALL UTILITIES INCLUDED) for $200-400/month), there is a nearby 24 hour gym that has cheap membership and a bathroom with *showers*. I'm thinking about saving some money, taking a leave of absence from work (I work 50+ hours for minimum wage as a scribe), live like a homeless person in an office, study for the MCAT for a few months, and then apply to medical school next year.

The offices are an office and they can also be "artist studios" which I could just pretend to be an artist who is "painting" to resolve any city zoning issues, but there is a place for my couch that I could sleep in and there is space for a desk. Heating and A/C all included. The only reason I am considering this is because I DON'T want room mates and I want cheap rent, these 2 desires usually don't work together for residential spaces.

Am I thinking this through correctly. I'm struggling so much in life right now and I don't know if I am making the right choices.
 
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lexswift

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I feel you with the loud roommates situation. I usually try to study in libraries/coffee shops.
If that is your biggest issue, have you considered just studying in a library/coffee shop?

Balancing scribing and MCAT prep certainly sounds difficult. Do you have enough saved up to not be able to work for a few months and just study?
 

slippydubloons

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I advise you to be wary, my friend. While I understand that you could theoretically go ahead and put an easel, paintbrush, and canvas up in the space, someone is bound to catch on and that could lead to serious repercussions for you. While certainly this is up to you to make an educated choice, I'm not sure if the risk is worth it. Are there no other options available? For example, I know of people (in their late 20s even) who would move back in with family while studying for the MCAT, and sure it wasn't ideal but they headed to the library whenever they could to get work done there and they made it through. Is something like that an option for you?
 
OP
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Mar 4, 2015
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Pre-Medical
I feel you with the loud roommates situation. I usually try to study in libraries/coffee shops.
If that is your biggest issue, have you considered just studying in a library/coffee shop?

Balancing scribing and MCAT prep certainly sounds difficult. Do you have enough saved up to not be able to work for a few months and just study?
Only if I take on the lease for $200/month. I currently have 2.1k saved, but if I spend most of the rest of the year renting that office, I should have plenty more saved since I won't have as much rent/electric expense. I already spoke with the owner of the office space who is agreeable with my plans. I did not tell him though, that I will be living there. I told him that I will spend the majority of my time there studying...
 
OP
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Mar 4, 2015
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I advise you to be wary, my friend. While I understand that you could theoretically go ahead and put an easel, paintbrush, and canvas up in the space, someone is bound to catch on and that could lead to serious repercussions for you. While certainly this is up to you to make an educated choice, I'm not sure if the risk is worth it. Are there no other options available? For example, I know of people (in their late 20s even) who would move back in with family while studying for the MCAT, and sure it wasn't ideal but they headed to the library whenever they could to get work done there and they made it through. Is something like that an option for you?
I've considered this, but I cannot see a possible way of moving back with my parents. They definitely are not interested in having me live with them at this, and their house is small/crowded as is. I don't want to give them more trouble than they deserve. If I do move back, it would be in their living room. This is not to mention that family drama that will get in my and moving my focus away from studying.

I agree that there definitely might be some serious repercussions from doing something like this. I need to weight the risks/benefits and I hope that I could get some more insight from SDN on this to make the best choice.
 

aymar

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I'm pretty sure this is illegal... properties are zoned for specific uses/reasons, and you could end up with some pretty big fines for misusing property that you don't own. You might end up even worse off financially as a result :(
 

slippydubloons

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I think I agree with aymar, I really don't think the risks are worth it. You could get in serious trouble, heck, I have no idea how it relates to the law but if it does it might even show up on your AMCAS/AACOMAS app and that would be a HUGE bummer. Don't risk it!

What I will say is that sometimes I've found that when my past roommates turned up a little too much, just having an honest conversation about keeping the noise reasonable would do the trick. Maybe you could try that?
 
OP
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Mar 4, 2015
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Thank you for your advice, it is much appreciated! I don't know if I can handle working 50 hours a week and studying for the MCAT in order to pay off that much rent and utilities. Not to mention that I need to save to fly for my potential medical school applications and interviews!! This current living situation prohibits this and I hate to see 2/3 of my income go to pay my housing bills.

Just to add some details: This placed used to be factory/warehouse with many suites (75+) that has 24/7 access and owner told me that I am welcome to come in whenever and however long. The contract does not state that I could not live there, but it does state that I need to use it primarily as a study or for other hobbies such as photography/writing/painting (which I will). Contract wise, I don't think I'll be violating anything. However, zoning laws are my concern at this point. I'm hoping to mask this by making it appear that I am actually doing some hobbies/studying and staying overnight to perform them.
 

Doctor-S

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I need to get started on studying for my MCAT, but I am living alone, with some debt and I am fending for myself. I live with 3 loud roommates that don't leave me alone and I pay 850 for rent plus electric and food . The area that I am in has expensive housing, wages are low and I am unable to find any cheap residential homes. But there are plenty of nonresidential office spaces on Craigslist.

On craigslist, I found several office spaces for rent (WITH ALL UTILITIES INCLUDED) for $200-400/month), there is a nearby 24 hour gym that has cheap membership and a bathroom with *showers*. I'm thinking about saving some money, taking a leave of absence from work (I work 50+ hours for minimum wage as a scribe), live like a homeless person in an office, study for the MCAT for a few months, and then apply to medical school next year.

The offices are an office and they can also be "artist studios" which I could just pretend to be an artist who is "painting" to resolve any city zoning issues, but there is a place for my couch that I could sleep in and there is space for a desk. Heating and A/C all included. The only reason I am considering this is because I DON'T want room mates and I want cheap rent, these 2 desires usually don't work together for residential spaces.

Am I thinking this through. I'm struggling so much in life right now and I don't know if I am making the right choices.
Not a good idea. However, if you still think it is a reasonable idea (at your own peril), feel free to make an appointment to speak with a qualified lawyer.

For instance, it's likely the city codes/ordinances/zoning restrictions preclude using a "non-residential" office space as a residential living space. For that reason, there is no shower/bath tub in the non-residential space because it is not a "residential" space. Additionally, it is likely the owner/landlord will not allow you to use the space as a "residential" living space. The owner/landlord's property liability (insurance) policy probably includes specific language precluding the use of non-residential office space to be used as a "residential" space. When you sign a contract/lease with the owner landlord to rent non-residential office space, and then use the space as a residential space, you would be in violation of the terms of the contact/lease. Once again, feel free to consult with a qualified legal professional in your area for additional information concerning your idea. Better yet: tell the owner your *true* plan, and get an immediate answer.

Perhaps you can rent a quiet little room, such as a spare room in a retired person's home.
 
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OchemOficionado

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What are you going to do about food? Buy a mini fridge and a microwave? I've heard about people renting storage spaces and living out of there (never researched it though). If that's legal in your state, you may be able to get away with living in an office building if you are discovered.
 

nm06003

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Have you tried finding scribe job in a private clinic? I would check out craigslist and see if there are any jobs. They tend to pay well and you could possibly work full time.
(I worked for a specialist 2-3 days a week making $18 an hour). It might help your financial situation so you can afford another apartment.
 

Goro

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Living there might be a violation of the lease.


I need to get started on studying for my MCAT, but I am living alone, with some debt and I am fending for myself. I live with 3 loud roommates that don't leave me alone and I pay 850 for rent plus electric and food . The area that I am in has expensive housing, wages are low and I am unable to find any cheap residential homes. But there are plenty of nonresidential office spaces on Craigslist.

On craigslist, I found several office spaces for rent (WITH ALL UTILITIES INCLUDED) for $200-400/month), there is a nearby 24 hour gym that has cheap membership and a bathroom with *showers*. I'm thinking about saving some money, taking a leave of absence from work (I work 50+ hours for minimum wage as a scribe), live like a homeless person in an office, study for the MCAT for a few months, and then apply to medical school next year.

The offices are an office and they can also be "artist studios" which I could just pretend to be an artist who is "painting" to resolve any city zoning issues, but there is a place for my couch that I could sleep in and there is space for a desk. Heating and A/C all included. The only reason I am considering this is because I DON'T want room mates and I want cheap rent, these 2 desires usually don't work together for residential spaces.

Am I thinking this through correctly. I'm struggling so much in life right now and I don't know if I am making the right choices.
 

DocMcMommy

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What about just a studio apartment? Those are usually more affordable, right? And you'd have your own space, a shower, and somewhere to cook food...it's also legal.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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People do this all the time under the guise of being "artists." Hell, I've known people who lived in storage units. Do your thing.
Just because people do it all the time doesn't make it a good idea.
 

FindersFee5

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I think maybe it's a bad idea, but is it a worse idea than bombing the MCAT because you're working 50 hour weeks in a stressful home environment? I'm not sure. I think a lot of these replies are coming from a place of privilege where, "If it's a bad idea, don't do it" is logical advice. That might not be OPs situation.
 
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JustaDO

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You have nothing to worry about. If you have a office, what you do behind closed doors is your business, but if you buy a bed and move it into the office, well then you deserve to be caught.

Also, odds of you getting into real legal trouble is about the odds of me winning the lottery today. I doubt the police care enough to investigate the possibility of someone living in a office.

Before someone mentions the storage unit thing, at numerous sites, there is a employee that lives there in a apartment. Hence, this is why those that try to live out of their units often get caught.
 
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nm06003

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Another thing you could do is move back home but spend the day at the library studying for the MCAT? That way you don't have to see your parents throughout the day?


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
 

FindersFee5

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Another thing you could do is move back home but spend the day at the library studying for the MCAT? That way you don't have to see your parents throughout the day?


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
He already said he doesn't want to do that because it will place an additional strain on his parents, which is totally understandable.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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What about a hostel? I lived in on in Jerusalem for a while, but they have them here too. There are a few just around me. You might want to check that out because they are (often) very cheap, let you stay as long as you'll pay, have bathrooms/showers, and you can spend time at the library or whatever studying.
 

NimbleNavigator

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Not a good idea. However, if you still think it is a reasonable idea (at your own peril), feel free to make an appointment to speak with a qualified lawyer.

For instance, it's likely the city codes/ordinances/zoning restrictions preclude using a "non-residential" office space as a residential living space. For that reason, there is no shower/bath tub in the non-residential space because it is not a "residential" space. Additionally, it is likely the owner/landlord will not allow you to use the space as a "residential" living space. The owner/landlord's property liability (insurance) policy probably includes specific language precluding the use of non-residential office space to be used as a "residential" space. When you sign a contract/lease with the owner landlord to rent non-residential office space, and then use the space as a residential space, you would be in violation of the terms of the contact/lease. Once again, feel free to consult with a qualified legal professional in your area for additional information concerning your idea. Better yet: tell the owner your *true* plan, and get an immediate answer.

Perhaps you can rent a quiet little room, such as a spare room in a retired person's home.
LMAO yeah sure, tell the guy who's already struggling to make ends meet that he should make an appointment with a lawyer.
 

Azete

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Back in my early 20s I did this. I scored a huge unpaid internship, and my parents weren't receptive to helping me financially. So, I drove 1200 miles, sold my car for $3500, bought a used bike for $80, and lived out of an office space for $190 a month + utilities.

It was pretty rough -- especially since every day I had to maintain a professional appearance. I showered at the gas station ~1/2 a mile down the road, slept on an air mattress with no sheets, and ate mostly bulk canned food I got at Costco (or food I siphoned from work). Almost all of my car money went to dry cleaning, but I lived like this for 6 months without earning a dollar.

I told the landlord I was a day trader, but I found out afterward he knew I was living there after a week. I looked so pathetic he didn't kick me out because he thought I ran away from abusive parents.

Good news is this led to a job that ended up earning me a lot of money. Bad news is I realized after 10 years I hated it and now I'm in med school.
 

NimbleNavigator

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Back in my early 20s I did this. I scored a huge unpaid internship, and my parents weren't receptive to helping me financially. So, I drove 1200 miles, sold my car for $3500, bought a used bike for $80, and lived out of an office space for $190 a month + utilities.

It was pretty rough -- especially since every day I had to maintain a professional appearance. I showered at the gas station ~1/2 a mile down the road, slept on an air mattress with no sheets, and ate mostly bulk canned food I got at Costco (or food I siphoned from work). Almost all of my car money went to dry cleaning, but I lived like this for 6 months without earning a dollar.

I told the landlord I was a day trader, but I found out afterward he knew I was living there after a week. I looked so pathetic he didn't kick me out because he thought I ran away from abusive parents.

Good news is this led to a job that ended up earning me a lot of money. Bad news is I realized after 10 years I hated it and now I'm in med school.
Man, that's rough. I hate how unpaid internships even exist.
 
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ChrisMack390

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Honestly I don't think this is a terrible idea. It is not exactly legal, but your chance of being caught is extremely low. The only thing is you will have to constantly eat out, which can really add up pretty quickly. IMO you are probably better off finding a cheap room and studying at the library all day.

I have a suspicion that you are describing Boston. If you are, look at rooms in Somerville, Medford, Jamaica Plain, Brighton, Roxbury, East Cambridge, maybe Mattapan or Malden. You can probably find something for ~500/month and live there without completely destroying your quality of life. Eating a healthy diet and taking some time for recreational stuff are VERY important while studying for the MCAT.
 
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NimbleNavigator

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Wait I just realized though... if you really just need a cheap place to stay, why not move to the middle of nowhere? By "middle of nowhere" I mean the closest cheap rural area.
 

ChrisMack390

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Wait I just realized though... if you really just need a cheap place to stay, why not move to the middle of nowhere? By "middle of nowhere" I mean the closest cheap rural area.
A good point! Even if you are not describing Boston as I suspected, you are certainly describing a major city. You don't even need to move to the "middle of nowhere", just some suburb 30-60 minutes out of the city will cut your rent in half or less.
 
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Do what this guy I know does: find desperate girls on Tinder that will let you stay at their place. I'm sure if you tell them that you're studying to be a doctor than it'll be no issue.
 
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trickydick

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Wait I just realized though... if you really just need a cheap place to stay, why not move to the middle of nowhere? By "middle of nowhere" I mean the closest cheap rural area.
I've met people in my area that are on fixed incomes(disability) rent rooms in other people's trailers for under $100/month. I'm only 5 hour drive from Boston, 4 to NYC or Philly and 6 to DC
 

holycrap

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get a cheap RV, you can get a decent one for like 1k doesnt cost much to maintain either. doesn't have to be the best since you'll rarely be mobile
 

trickydick

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get a cheap RV, you can get a decent one for like 1k doesnt cost much to maintain either. doesn't have to be the best since you'll rarely be mobile
Access to electricity/wifi and water will be difficult unless you are living on a campsite which could be relatively quite expensive