Most of us think of housesharing as something university students do in their second year, once they leave Halls. The image of a typical student house springs to mind no doubt but that isn’t what housesharing is about for the most part, although typical student houses do exist!
I began housesharing in my late 40’s after my daughter left home. After finding myself living on my own for the first time ever, I didn’t like it. Not one bit. Whilst I am happy with my own company, I do like to know there are other people about. Despite living on an estate with people walking past the house quite regularly, I honestly felt more alone than I had ever done in my life before.
My tenancy agreement for the house I was renting prevented my from sub letting a room which seemed silly really as they would still be getting the rent and had had no issues with my adult child living with me. As I didn’t want to be alone, I decided to try housesharing.
My first houseshare was with 3 blokes. I only met one of them before I took the room on (rookie mistake) but he seemed nice enough. Without going into detail, over the next 9 months it all fell apart and I found myself on the brink of homelessness. Suffice to say that one of them turned out to have a drink problem, the other ignored me as if I didn’t exist and the third, well “liar liar pants on fire” springs to mind. Thus, two days before christmas that year, during a torrential downpour, I found myself moving again.
This time, the opposite side of the county with a nice lady, a bit older than me, who had a lovely home in a picturesque small town which looked even more pretty with all the christmas lights everywhere. We got on famously and, as a trained cordon bleu chef, she often cooked and I washed up. In the mornings we’d share a cuppa then go about our own business, spending an hour together in the evening over a meal, chatting away about our lives and putting the world to rights.
We bonded well and I made friends out of neighbours who I am still in touch with. But she had plans to sell up which I knew when I moved in, so I helped her prepare the house for sale, decluttering ready to downsize to her new place. Another move was on the cards as the house sold quicker than anticipated. Not so easy when you have horses to move as well, particularly as the rented fields 3 miles down the road were just perfect. So my new home had to be close enough for me to travel to them once or twice a day.
My third home happened to be some 30 mins away with a lady who had horses, thus giving us something to bond over. I had a lovely double room and use of the single spare room next door as my ‘sitting room’. The view from my double aspect windows was just lovely – wide open countryside, not a road visible and able to watch her horses in the field below. However, it became very clear within the first week that she didn’t want me there.
She had thought that having been widowed within the last year and very recently retired, she would enjoy the company but alas no. Don’t get me wrong, once she finally admitted to me that it wasn’t working, the air was cleared and we got on extremely well. She made no rush for me to leave, her only concern was that I found somewhere suitable and not feel pressured to go just anywhere. What more can you ask for?
So, after two months of her hospitality, I moved once more to a bigger town, in with a lady who again, older than me but seemed really nice. We had spent quite some time chatting over a cuppa when I had viewed the room so I felt I had a good handle on her and would be happy there. She had another room that was also advertised for rent but had yet to find someone for it. My room was the bigger of the two with an ensuite shower room which I preferred.
I moved in and almost immediately another side to her reared its ugly head. The list of house rules was mind boggling, not just in length but complexity; this woman had serious control issues coupled with a hint of OCD. Two weeks later a new girl moved in and it didn’t take us long to become firm friends, much to the chagrin of our landlady who intentionally listened to our conversations just in case we were talking about her. Sadly, she was convinced we were conspiring against her which was so not the case but her underhand and suspicious behaviour was enough to try a saint.
During my time here I decided to leave the country for a while to go travelling which brough my tenancy to an end after 4 months; if that decision hadn’t come about, I wouldn’t, couldn’t, have stayed any longer. Her behaviour was suffocating and very stressful.
The conclusion to all this is housesharing can be and is fun. I’ve met some interesting and lovely people, had the opportunity to live in places I wouldn’t normally have had the chance, seen areas of the county that I might not have otherwise and made good friends. I’ve learnt what I can/cannot put up with, made some rookie mistakes, learnt to ask probing questions and read between the lines, all the time listening to my gut instinct as to whether a place is a yes or no.
Currently I am back housesharing again, this time in a former residential home with 9 other people, no landlord in situ. It’s a quiet house for the most part, shared kitchen but each has their own en suite. One thing I have learnt is that my preference is for my own bathroom because it’s quite nice to share kitchen time with others, it’s when you get to know people.
The rent is reasonable, all bills inclusive which is one of the many bonuses to housesharing – a fixed monthly outgoing for accommodation without worrying about the cost of utilities on top. Additionally, all maintenance is taken care of by the landlord. Plus, for me, the particular bonus was the room was unfurnished, meaning I could finally get all my stuff out of storage, look in boxes that hadn’t been opened for two or more years.
Having people around, even if you aren’t deep in conversation with them daily, is great; the sense of isolation doesn’t exist as you are bound to bump into someone or several someones throughout the course of the day, even if it’s just say hello. Me being me though, I try to engage in meaningful conversation with people as it makes housesharing more pleasant if we all know each other a little better than simply nodding terms.
Over the next few weeks, I will post some further thoughts about housesharing from both the tenant and landlord perspective, so do come back to read them, or better still, subscribe so you won’t miss them!