This morning's San Francisco Chronicle sports a front page article with the headline "Rooms for rent a sign of the times." The article discusses the financial advantages to sharing, including, for some people, the ability to stay in a home they might otherwise lose because of the inability to make rent or mortgage payments, and offers statistics about the rise in shared housing in the current recession.
Shared housing is great from an economic standpoint, but here are some of the other reasons it's cool (from Chapter 6 of The Sharing Solution):
- Shared housing can be a gateway to ownership.
- Shared housing can get you more for your money--like a larger yard or a hot tub.
- Shared housing helps seniors and people with disabilities, who can share the cost of in-home care and other services.
- Shared housing creates community and facilitates convenience--having other people around decreases isolation and offers support.
- Shared housing saves the planet--did you know that 75% of the lumber produced in the U.S. goes into homebuilding? And the construction of new housing, as well as the maintenance of houses once built, tax the planet in innumerable ways. Sharing uses less energy and less stuff, and makes it easier to afford sustainable materials and systems (like solar or grey water).
There are some tricks to sharing successfully, though. Some of the most useful information in the Chronicle article is in a sidebar called "Resources," which offers tips from experienced sharers about how to have a happy housing share. We agree with everything said there, including taking your time choosing your roommates and checking references--and especially the tips about keeping things harmonious in your home, like the advice to write up an agreement, to discuss how you'll resolve disputes, and to address problems while they're still small.
To these excellent bits of advice we'd add the suggestion that you take some time to learn to be an effective communicator, so that when you address those small problems they stay addressed, rather than creating additional problems because you raised the issue in a way that wasn't comfortable for your roomie. We recommend highly Sharon Ellison's book, The Art of Non-Defensive Communication, available at the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication website.