I can commiserate! Sorry you are in this situation – I know it's confusing. One of my (college-age) sons lives in Berkeley and pays – no kidding – 3x what my out-of-state son pays in rent, and get this: the Berkeley son is crammed into a small triple room (he sleeps in a bunk bed, w/3 guys in the small room), while my out-of-state son has his own room. So that's a factor of 9x in rent, sigh ...
My recently divorced friend had to move back to OK (where she is from) so her mother could babysit and she could afford housing. With her share of the proceeds from selling their CA house, she bought a house in OK for ... $55k? Literally one tenth the price of the cheapest condo here.
Anyway, I'll just throw this out there ... I think a PP mentioned this, but maybe look around for a 'creative' living arrangement. I know a formerly homeschooled young woman here who lives with a family and gets free or reduced rent for her room in exchange for some light housework and walking the dog, or something. So I'm thinking that perhaps an elderly widow/couple might have an in-law unit (renting out in-law units is newly legal where we live) or some rooms that they might rent out cheaply in exchange for some light help around the house. Obviously you'd want to make sure it's a good situation, but a local community group or church might have leads for this kind of thing. (There are an awful lot of elderly people living alone in large houses here.) You'd give up some autonomy, of course, but the rents are just crazy here and you don't want to deplete your emergency funds, and it should be a temporary situation ... In college I almost rented a room from a family that wanted some babysitting in exchange for reduced rent (I didn't click with the kids, and the amount of babysitting wasn't spelled out, so I passed).
Oh, and I agree about the older kid(s) chipping in. It depends on family dynamics, of course, but I know many low-income immigrant families here in which the teenagers are proud to help out the family with the money from their after-school jobs. Oh, and I also know of many situations where an entire large family is living in someone's (usually friend or family) garage ... obviously not ideal, but they are doing what they have to to survive, and hoping it is temporary. (I'm NOT saying you should live in a garage! – just that things are crazy-expensive here.)
Edited by Laura in CA, 16 July 2017 - 04:36 PM.