When you’re choosing a sober living home as part of your addiction recovery, a similar term keeps appearing in your search: halfway houses. You may be wondering, “what is the difference between a sober living home and a halfway house?”


Halfway houses are run by government agencies, and sober living houses cooperate with rehab facilities as part of addiction recovery aftercare. Most sober living homes are privately owned and operated. Some are run by corporations and churches, which offer faith-based meetings and treatment programs. 



Most sober living homes have a relaxing and comfortable residential environment, while halfway homes are less private and generally have multiple beds in a room, similar to a dorm. 

Choosing to live in a facility after rehab pays off. Residents in sober living facilities reported less anxiety and depression and had lower scores on personality disorder tests, according to a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse and Treatment.

Who can live there?



Halfway houses, also known as transitional homes, are designed for people who need a place to stay who have mental disabilities, physical disabilities, or a criminal history. They teach life skills in a structured environment to help people enter society again with confidence. It’s common for people who are homeless or just got out of jail to live in a halfway house while they apply for jobs and find a permanent place to live. Halfway houses also make sure that residents are sober and clean.


The main difference between a sober living home and a halfway house is that sober living facilities are designed for people who have recently been treated for drug or alcohol addiction in a rehab center for at least 7 days. Sober living homes are the bridge between rehab and returning to your own home, and to a potentially tempting environment. 



Sober living homes aren’t equipped with medical professionals to treat mental health issues, but they do encourage you to take your medication and attend group therapy and 12-step support meetings. These homes help residents find jobs, housing after sober living, and repair family relationships so they can have a positive outlook on their addiction recovery succeed at a long life of sobriety.


There are sober living homes and halfway homes that cater to specific genders, such as women-only and men-only, and some allow a mixture of people to live together.


Rules of sober living homes vs. halfway houses



Sober living homes may offer more freedom with your schedule, or it may offer more structure, depending on which program you choose. In a structured sober living home, you may be required to attend mandatory activities and meals as a way to strengthen the bond with those you live with. In other sober living homes, you’re allowed to come and go when you want, visit your friends and family on your own time, attend work or school, and participate in daily or weekly meetings with other residents.



In halfway houses, there are strict rules against stealing and fighting. There are also curfews and limitations on visitation. In halfway homes, there may be a designated area for visitation, or you may have to meet your visitor outside to protect the safety and privacy of the other residents.


One thing that both sober living homes and halfway houses require is that you stay clean and sober during your visit, otherwise, you’ll be kicked out.


What benefits do sober living and halfway homes have?


Some sober living homes and halfway houses offer 12-step therapy.


Halfway houses and sober living homes vary greatly as to what they offer. Some halfway houses don’t offer 12-step support meetings and meals, but they do offer counseling and programs to help people find employment and housing. Some do offer 12-step meetings and community meals. Call the home you’re interested in, or check on their website to see if they have:


  • 12-step support meetings or group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Community meals or expectation of self-cooked meals
  • Transportation or allow your own car
  • Visitation centers
  • Planned or mandatory activities
  • A guide to activities in the area
  • A safe place to store your belongings
  • Bedding and personal items included
  • Help with employment, family relationships, or education
  • Curfews and rules you can follow with your schedule


Cost of sober living homes vs. halfway houses


Sober living homes and halfway houses can instill good financial habits.


Halfway houses allow you to stay for 3-12 months, whereas a minimum stay in a sober home is 1-3 months. Prisoners pay up to 25% of their gross income in a halfway house. Sober living homes are similar to the cost of apartments in the neighborhood that it’s in. They can cost anywhere between $375 to several thousand dollars per month, depending on the location and amenities.


Sober living houses and halfway houses can be paid for using:


  • Personal loans
  • Scholarships
  • Credit card
  • Payment plan with the home
  • Sliding scale based on income




There are plenty of options to help you transition from addiction recovery facilities to your normal life. Sober living homes offer more comfort, transportation options, and social support, which is similar to living in an apartment with roommates. A halfway house has a lot more people you’ll live with who have different challenges and goals. They also offer programs to help their residents enter society again. Halfway houses are a longer stay, whereas, with sober living, you’re able to get back to your normal living quicker.


Sober living homes have a more comfortable and private residential experience.

Whether you choose a halfway house or a sober living home is completely up to you. Staying in a sober living home offers a more focused environment to help you achieve lifelong sobriety. Staying in a halfway house may be better for those with lower incomes that need more government assistance. At Sunset Shores Sober Living, you’ll find a safe, friendly and comfortable environment with a variety of treatment programs. No matter how long you stay, you’ll have people in your circle who you can depend on during your stay and in your aftercare.