we wouldn’t have a mortgage

as we would be paying cash for the house, but your point about liability insurance as well as the other points you made are good ones.
I imagine I could provide a financial incentive for payments online. You’re right: I was projecting my own family’s values on to future renters.
Good point about the repairs though. I’d have to find someone local to handle that, but i would have to do that anyway even if I was living there.
So if he didn’t have roommates and it was just him living there, would you go ahead and buy?

I was looking at real estate

in the college town my son is looking at attending. Holy cow. I can BUY a 3 or 4 bedroom house for about $45,000 more or less.By the time he goes to a four year college (2 years from now) we should have about that much in the bank. He would have 3 1/2 years of school to do there.
Housing & meals if he lived on campus would be about $5k a year, so say $15k for room and board, not including summers.
If I bought a 4 bedroom place, and he rented out the other 3 bedrooms for about $300 a month each room (totaling $900, but minus utilities, so say $700/month) that would go a long way towards helping pay his tuition, which will run about $1,000 a month (yes, he’s planning on working through college), or go back into our long term savings if his job pays enough for him to make it on his own. Yes, he’d likely stay there year round (he was pretty much planning to anyway, since tuition is drastically cheaper in the summers.)
We do not own a home, nor are we likely to in southern California. Once we get out of debt this year, we had planned on saving everything other than basic living expenses, which should come to about $25,000 a year and then 5 years from now, relocating and paying cash for a house someplace where $100-125k buys you a house.
Obviously if real estate went sky high in the town, we’d be back to the original plan and he would live on campus, but what do you think otherwise? I don’t really want to divert $ to pay for college tuition per se…but a place to live for him and which provides an income stream, that is tempting 🙂