One of the best ways to shrink our eco footprint is to reduce our cost of living. And one of the best ways to reduce our cost of living is to share a house or apartment. Living with roommates: the original “affordable housing”!
Figuring out ways to share space with people can actually get really fun and creative, as well as offering a huge financial advantage over living alone. And an emotional advantage too! In the USA, loneliness and lack of community are causing all sorts of public-health problems.
Nowadays even middle-aged and older people are starting to see the wisdom of sharing housing. In the Craigslist house-share ads you might see reference to “Golden Girls”. And certainly, sharing housing is also a win for young people just starting out.
In my blog I have made various posts over the years offering suggestions such as moving to smaller towns and buying houses together. Sharing housing is a huge leverage point for reducing the stranglehold of consumerist culture.
For the past couple of years, I have had only one housemate. Recently, a second friend moved in. Having two housemates is great! Each of us contributes a unique set of skills and resources to the household.
Now, there are certain factors that make it easier to share housing. The biggest bottlenecks are the kitchen and bathroom. A lot of people in the USA have been conditioned by consumer society to think they need their own personal bathroom and their own kitchen.
At my house, here are some ways that we “stretch” our one kitchen and our one bathroom.
1) Housemate’s little shaving basin in his bedroom. If everyone has one of these, the only time we really need the bathroom is to use the toilet. Also helpful for cutting down on bathroom bottleneck, we added an outdoor shower. Many times, we prefer it to the indoor shower.
2) Housemate’s little dishwashing setup. Also each person has a couple of little appliances in their own room. They each have a little microwave and water kettle in their rooms, for example. They are both welcome to use the kitchen also, but they actually mostly prefer to default to their own little setups in their own rooms. (Myself, I just use the kettle and stovetop in the kitchen.) We share one big fridge.
It’s surprising how simple little things can make all the difference. Creative adaptation of the inside of a house or apartment (which we call Zone Zero in permaculture design) is a major, often overlooked leverage point for increasing our healthy interdependence on each other, while reducing our toxic dependence on hyperfinancialized, centralized, official systems.
Are you sharing housing? If so, what are your favorite tips? If not, what are some of the things stopping you?