Transitional housing: How to survive and thrive

Dated: February 6 2024

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Transitional housing: How to survive and thrive


Key insights

  • Transitional housing can buy you extra time to search for your next property, and help you avoid rushing the home buying process.
  • Explore options like staying with family, renting a guest house or booking an extended stay Airbnb, VRBO or hotel.
  • Stay focused and patient as you enter transitional housing, recognizing that your short-term sacrifices will pay off in the long run.

When listing your home for sale, you may receive an offer before you secure your next property — especially in today’s competitive market. It’s common for home sellers to worry about what to do during the period of time between homes. However, it is possible to find an easy, convenient living arrangement for this transitional period.

Temporary or transitional housing options are out there. Here is everything you need to know when searching for and securing a short-term property.

What is transitional housing, and when do people use it?

Whether your current property sells before you find a new home, you need to relocate to a new city under short notice or your new construction build is taking longer than expected, it may be time to explore transitional housing. Transitional housing offers a temporary “Plan B” home for sellers while they wait for their next property to become available. It can also provide options for first-time buyers hoping to time it right with the end of a lease or rental agreement.

Many interim living arrangements exist, but it’s important to consider what would work best for you, your budget and your family.

Housing options for when you’re between homes

Stay with family or close friends

Depending on the length of your stay and the size of your family, living with relatives or friends can be a smart solution. Finishing out a school year or having an extended summer visit in a place that you’re already familiar with can be a low-stress way for families to handle this transitional period. Throughout your stay, just be sure to keep open lines of communication with the family that is hosting you.

Sign a short-term rental agreement

If family or friends aren’t an option, short-term rentals are plentiful. Locate traditional rentals, sublets and vacation rentals on websites such as Craigslist, Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner). The power of social media can also work in your favor. Ask trusted friends for recommendations, post to NextDoor or reach out to your neighborhood groups on Facebook.

Lease back your home

You may also be able to negotiate a lease-back agreement with the buyer of your home. Ask the buyer if you can lease back your home for 1-2 months as you search for a new property. Some buyers may resist this, while others may agree to a quicker closing and longer moving date.

Book an extended-stay hotel

Some hotels specialize in extended-stay lodging, offering amenities like kitchenettes, laundry services or machines, pet-friendly rooms and on-site household items you can borrow or buy. Best of all, these facilities may only require a few days of advance notice to make a reservation.

Benefits of using temporary housing

A transitional home allows you time to find your next property, and it can lessen your stress as you approach the closing date for your existing home sale. With the flexibility of a short-term residence, you’ll have the opportunity to take your time, do your research and find the perfect home for you and your budget.

Plus, if you haven’t yet purchased a new home and aren’t completely committed to a certain area, your short-term housing location can act as a trial run. Your transitional housing can help confirm what you like or dislike about a particular area — and give you insight on where to build or buy next.

Potential challenges of transitional housing

The cost and stress of storage

As you downsize to short-term housing, it will be beneficial to put most of your non-essential belongings into storage. However, dividing and storing items can be time-consuming and expensive. Get quotes from several storage companies before committing to any one provider. Don’t forget to ask for recommendations from friends and check out online reviews to help inform your decision.

Finding pet-friendly accommodations may be difficult

You’ll also need to ensure that you have a moving plan for your pets. Check to see if animals are allowed in whatever housing option you choose. If it isn’t possible to bring your pooch or kitten along with you, you may need to look into alternative housing for your pets, too.

Stay patient and focus on the future

It’s likely that you will sacrifice something as you enter transitional housing — whether it be money, privacy, space or other amenities. Focus first on the safety, cleanliness and location of your short-term residence, and let go of super-high expectations. The goal is to make it through this short-term blip and have these momentary sacrifices pay off in the long run.

Tips to prepare for a temporary move

Follow these basic steps to ensure a less stressful, more organized temporary move.

  • Create a moving checklist that keeps you organized and on track.
  • Declutter your home and offload excess belongings to help avoid high storage fees and moving costs.
  • Color code your moving boxes to help you visualize which boxes need to move to storage and which will come with you to your short-term space.
  • Forward your mail or set up a P.O. box to ensure you don’t miss any essential documents from doctors, banks, family or other senders.

Find your forever home

By working with your REALTOR® through both the selling and buying processes, you can assess your for-sale home’s current market value and find your next dream property on the best possible timeline. Plus, your Realtor will have your best interests in mind and can help you juggle the transition between houses.

Reach out to begin the process of selling and searching for your forever home.

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Jeremy and Amye Miller

Energetic. Persistent. Data-driven. When you work with Jeremy and Amye, you know they have the facts and stats to back up his plan for buying or selling your home. Real estate transactions can be comp....

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