If you've been living alone for a while, it can be a challenging transition to learn to share your home. Homesharing, which involves having another person live in your household, provides many benefits if you're emotionally ready.
Successfully sharing your home requires flexibility, openness, and sticking to your HomeShare Agreement after your new housemate moves in. Based on our experience, both householders and housemates must act with kindness, honesty and have realistic expectations. While homesharing is geared towards the householder's lifestyle and most householders are very excited to share their home, there are some important things to keep in mind that will help ensure a harmonious homeshare experience.
Flexibility: Nobody's perfect, and as a result, no homeshare is perfect. It's normal to expect a few bumps along the way; mistakes will happen. Maybe your housemate isn't the greatest at separating the recycling, is forgetful with certain house rules, or irritates you when they forget to push their chair in when they leave the table. A good motto for householders is "Don't sweat the small stuff!" Be flexible, communicate clearly, and practice tolerance.
Attitude: Is your cup half empty or half full? Householders who have the half full perspective usually have successful homeshare experiences in comparison to half empty thinkers, who believe there are always problems to address, no matter how small those problems might be. Focus on the nice things that make your housemate great and look objectively at the things that bother you. Gratitude has a large impact on attitude.
Empathy: Self centered thinking like "my house, my rules" will push away most housemates and make a homeshare short lived. Yes, it is the householder's home, but try thinking from a housemate's perspective, too. Showing empathy and humility will go a long way in making your homeshare a success.
Hospitality: Although homesharing doesn't require the same level of hospitality that's expected of an Airbnb host, it is important to make your housemate feel welcomed and an important part of your household.
Consistency: It's problematic for householders to unilaterally change the rules of a HomeShare Agreement after a housemate moves in (or over time). Here are two real-life examples. First, in a task exchange imagine if a senior householder increases the workload over time. The housemate may become overwhelmed with responsibilities and feel that this increase in responsibility is unfair.
Or, what if a space that was set aside for use by the housemate in the HomeShare Agreement was removed? Imagine a householder takes on a renovation project that causes noise in a quiet space that the housemate, who works from home, uses for work. As you can imagine, this could cause a serious problem. As a householder, if you'd like to change the agreed upon rules, collaborate openly and honestly with your housemate first.
Respect: A housemate's private space is for their exclusive use, and it's important that householders respect this space. Respecting another person's space includes not storing your own items in this space. It's also important that householders respect shared spaces by tidying their belongings in common areas, just as housemates are expected to do.
Communication: At first, some householders are resistant to scheduling a regular house meeting, but this is an important element to a successful homeshare arrangement. House meetings provide an open opportunity to regularly discuss what is working and what needs to be improved.
House meetings also respect everyone's time. Immediately addressing issues rather than waiting to bring them up during a house meeting doesn't always work for everyone. Poor timing or constant communication (texting too much or leaving sticky notes everywhere) can interfere with the harmony in the home.
Fairness: Householders need to be realistic with their expectations and follow their own rules. Is it fair to expect housemates to always clean up after themselves when the householder regularly leaves a mess? Is it fair to ask your housemate to not have overnight guests or entertain when the householder entertains and hosts overnight guests regularly? Rules that aren't fair are sure to create discord.
Honesty: Householders will sometimes tell us that they are super clean and organized, or don't have company over regularly, when the exact opposite is true. Be honest with yourself during the homeshare journey. If householders expect new housemates to be honest and upfront before moving in, then they need to be honest and upfront too!
A successful homeshare agreement requires give and take from both the householder and the housemate. Give the team at HomeShare Alliance a call if you think you're ready to share your home. We'll walk you through the process, find a housemate who is a good fit, and help you make the most of the benefits that draw people to the homesharing lifestyle.