Sharing could be caring about way more than your finances . . . if the lifestyle fits you.
With housing costs on the rise, more people are considering a shared housing environment, or co-living, to meet their living needs. In some cases, this involves one party owning the home while additional tenants live in the space. In other cases, all parties agree to rent the same living space and split costs, and still others are matched through a management team with individual leases based on the amount and nature of personal space used.
There are many positive reasons for doing this. Co-living can lower the cost of living for each person, allowing for increased personal savings and affording a certain quality of life without having to pay entirely for it individually. Co-living can also provide social benefits; more people are seeing living spaces not just as a place to call home, but to share ideas and collaborate with other people who share the same interests literally living under one roof. From technology hackers and gamers to people who enjoy sustainable living or various forms of art and drama, co-living can give you the ability to live with others that are as passionate as you are about your lifestyle. Finally, community is a very important part of mental health. As people turn more to digital devices and feelings of loneliness are on the rise, co-living can provide a home environment that is welcoming and takes that isolation off the table.
However, there are challenges that come with co-living as well. Co-living means that you have to share – share the kitchen, share the living and dining space, and share the bathrooms. Depending on the size of the space and the people you are co-living with, this can be intense and it can feel challenging to find a place if you need time to yourself. There is also the challenge of sharing expenses and living values. Rent and utilities can be split equally monetarily, but some households also consider an income-based shared system for paying base expenses – the more you make, the more you pay into living expenses. Here are some additional questions to consider:
1. Are you going to buy the large cable and internet package, or are you seeking minimal levels of services? Netflix? Hulu? Other subscription-based services?
2. Do you pay for cleaning services, or is everyone responsible for chores?
3. Does everyone in the house agree on what is being paid for and how much is being paid for?
4. Is there a house curfew or rules on guests, or dietary restrictions for allergies?
5. What are the consequences for breaking the house rules, including nonpayment?
In resolving all of these situations, the key to success lies in setting clear expectations in advance and regularly communicating. This communication is not just about the house rules, but about the co-living experience in general. Some houses set monthly times to have a potluck and discuss co-living related topics. Others use technology like Slack, Discord, or Facebook to set-up private groups for online discourse. They use shared document spaces like Google Drive or Dropbox to scan bills in as PDFs and expenses with a public spreadsheet for who has paid for what. I recommend setting a particular date/time each month for this meeting and for payments – it is important and deserves a small amount of time dedicated to it.
There are many wonderful benefits to co-living as a potential housing solution. Co-living can help you reduce costs and/or provide access to a higher quality of life than what you could afford on your own. You also can live in an environment with more personal connection and enjoyment through the people that live alongside you and the interests they share. As long as you are mindful of both the positive aspects and what sharing implies in your daily living, co-living can be an extraordinary solution to work toward both your financial and social goals.
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