Dear house sharing, thank you….

Dear house sharing, thank you….


House sharing. The basic idea being that the cost of renting and buying homes is expensive (in some places more so!) and that if you have an extra room in your house why not rent it out? Someone gets cheap(er) rent and someone else gets help with their mortgage. The details vary – a room, a room and bathroom, half a house – but regardless, there are basic agreed upon house rules and good communication is a must. It’s most common to end up with strangers via sites like Craigslist or with friends of friends who you don’t really know prior to moving in. The bonus, is that if the homeowner is ethical, house sharing can play a positive role in maintaining affordable housing.

For many people in the U.S. house sharing is often perceived as something only for college students, nudist hippies, and the immigrants working 2 jobs all day to send money abroad. Or, many mistakenly think Airbnb is house sharing (it’s not, it actually reduces access to affordable living). The thought that working adults with some version of a stable job would choose to house share is beyond comprehension for many people.

I house shared for eight years before deciding to travel full time. I cannot count the the number of times I was asked “But you have a good job, you don’t have to share kitchens and bathrooms, so why would you?’

My favorite answers?
I’d rather buy a plane ticket every three months than have a private kitchen.
It’s like I get to date lots of different people -without the emotional responsibility.
It keeps my friend community from becoming completely homogeneous.
It’s a constant practice in compromise. (A good thing given there are 7 billion of us on this planet)
It keeps my consumption of new shit in check. More space=more shit. Less space=less shit.
It takes too many resources for each of us to have our own homes. The earth cannot afford that.

Now, I will add to this list: It allows me to more comfortably live in and enjoy the diversity and generosity of the world.

I can walk into any house or campground or community center and comfortably take a shower. Maybe I have to use a bucket. Maybe I have to share the bathroom with 10 people so I only get a few minutes. Maybe there is no light to shave by. Maybe I have to take an outdoor shower in a swimsuit with what feels like the whole community watching me. But, hey, a shower is a shower.

I can walk into any shared kitchen or dig through my camping cook box and find pans, plates, utensils and spices sufficient for preparing delicious, healthy food to feed however many people might just happen to be around at mealtime.

I am prepared to expect -and embrace- everyone’s unique form of crazy. Everyone has vices. Everyone has some version of religion or worldview. Everyone desperately wants to connect and be accepted.

So you are Mormon or evangelical and I’m not? So your drug of choice is more addicting than my drug of choice? So you live with lots of dogs in your apartment and I don’t like dogs? So you don’t know how to cook vegetables and I can’t eat fried chicken every night? So you are an older expat with a younger local girlfriend and the details of your relationship confuse me?

So what.

Thank you for accepting me (and my version of crazy) and my life choices into your home. Thank you for your generosity. I am thankful that I am ready to accept your generosity and respectfully share the kitchen, bathroom and bed you have offered to me. More so than sharing your space, thank you for sharing your energy, time, ideas, family, and stories.

Thank you also, to the many people who trained me. To the many houses that I was allowed to practice in. Ten years ago I would not have been as accepting. I would not have adapted as quickly to constantly changing ‘normals.’ The real benefit I have received from years of house sharing far exceed the money I saved through cheaper rent or the enjoyment of a few extra plane tickets a year. The real gift is that I am better able to love and accept random humans and their choices.

But this took time and practice.

For sure there are reasons we should all try this. For sure we all are starting in different places…

Maybe starting means hosting a traveler for two days through Couch Surfing. Or taking in short term renters – a grad student doing research, a traveling nurse with a three month contract. Or for a year- a Earthcorps or Americorps member who live on a subpar stipend while working to improve our communities. Maybe it is deciding your extra room is better used to house another human full time than to store your high school yearbooks and unfinished projects.

Maybe, for now, the process of putting yourself out there and interviewing people from different walks of life with different ways of living is your version of starting.

…But maybe we should all start somewhere.

The earth and the future you will say ‘thank you.’

About Author


Traveler. Teacher. Learner. Closet sociologist. Lover of all things good. Attempting to embrace the chaos of 'earth school' at all times. Learning to find the balance between enjoying the good of life and tackling the injustices facing humans and the planet.

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