Why sharing accommodation with strangers is not as scary as it sounds
Many digital nomads do it
Sharing accommodation is the perfect temporary solution for many digital nomads, who would rather live in a real apartment for a few months than spend a whole lot of money on hotels.
Even AirBnB offers the option to rent a room, instead of an entire house. That way, you basically choose to sacrifice a tiny bit of your privacy and live with people you don’t know, cutting the cost to a portion.
I have tried it in the past. It wasn’t bad at all.
A few years ago, when I was living in London (UK), I decided to split the ridiculously high cost of living (London is unbelievably pricey), by doing what most people do in London: flat sharing!
I moved to a two-storey victorian house (more spacious than a flat) in North London. The neighborhood was lovely. It was full of Easter European immigrants and good restaurants. Actually, it was paradise, food-wise.
The house had just been renovated and I was the first tenant to move in. A few days later I was joined by 4 other ladies around my age. Yep, the landlord was very picky; he wanted to rent to female professionals only.
The co-living lasted for 2 whole years. It wasn’t always perfect, but it was good fun most of the time. Frankly, I don’t regret doing it, to this day. Even the bad times proved to be valuable lessons. For example, now I cherish my privacy, respect other people’s habits and always make time for the house chores.
House-sharing is a very common living situation
It happens all around the world, especially in big cities, where the cost of rent is very high.
There are dedicated rental boards, specifically for shared accommodation. For example, EasyRoommate is a very popular service that helps people find a room in a shared house in various countries, including USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.
For what it’s worth, I found that shared accommodation in London in SpareRoom.co.uk, which serves only UK and USA.
Of course, there are some fraudulent ads online, especially on Craigslist, but most of them are obvious traps. Some are really attractive and look like extremely good bargains. Those usually end up asking you money in advance, with the promise of a fancy room in a posh apartment at a ridiculous price.
Word of advice: whenever WesternUnion is brought up early in the conversation, run away!
On rare occasions, you might come across creepy ads, with dudes asking for weird stuff in order to qualify you for the house-share. Be vigilant during room hunting and stay away from those, once you spot them.
Okay, now that I’ve scared you with the above terrifying examples, I think it’s time to say that those are only extreme cases and you might as well become a fraud/crime victim of a freaky landlord, even if you decide to live on your own.
Don’t just assume that living in a shared accommodation with one or more strange faces always has a horrible ending. It doesn’t. In fact, I know many folks from all over the world who became best friends or even lovers, while living in the same house.
Think of the benefits of sharing accommodation
Even if the potential of a friendship is not important to you, let me give you all the reasons why you should try it:
You split the cost
The biggest advantage of sharing accommodation is the fact that you get to live in a descent house at a portion of its total price. That is because the cost of rent and bills (and maybe groceries) is divided by the number of tenants. That means less money goes out of your pocket.
You split the house chores
If you’re lazy (and you know it, raise your hands) then this is definitely going to the list of pros. Doing all the house cleaning yourself is boring and exhausting and, unless you’re Monica Geller, it’s your least favorite thing in the world. Hiring a cleaner is costly and not doing it is unsanitary, to say say the list. What if you could, at least, minimize the frequency and/or the amount of that work? Well, if you live with others, you can!
In shared houses, roommates create a system of who will do what and when, which is good for 2 reasons:
- You’ll do less work than you would, if you lived alone
- You’ll hold your roommates accountable for these chores, as well as be held accountable by them
You have someone to talk to
Okay I get it, you don’t care about making new friends (why, though?). But imagine you come back home exhausted and you want to talk to someone about that terrible day you had and whine for a couple of hours. If you lived alone, you’d probably talk to the fridge (awkward) or call your mom (sad).
Well, if you had a flatmate, you’d have someone willing to listen and whine about his/her problems, too.
That someone could have hot friends to introduce to you (okay, I went too far)
Let’s cut the crap for a second and be serious. You may reject the idea of making friends with your roomies, but it can be the perfect opportunity to socialize in a strange land, far far away from your usual long-term friends. Even if those guys do not turn out to be your type, they might know other guys who are very much like you. Just don’t dismiss that kind of networking so easily.
You may even learn a new language
You could move in with a fun fella from a different country, whose native language is one of those fancy ones you always wanted to learn. It doesn’t hurt to ask your housemate to teach you a word or two. You can see it as an opportunity to learn from a native speaker, which means you’ll have more chances to learn it properly and master the accent, too. How cool would that be!
You may find a workout buddy
When I was house-sharing, one my flatmates encouraged me to join the local gym together. I am usually a lazy person, so I thought that was the only way I could keep the habit of working out. I saw her as an accountability buddy. And it worked! We went to the gym multiple times a week, primarily attending the zumba lessons. It was so much fun! Plus, we bonded so much, that we became very good friends, sharing meals and going on night-outs together.
You could share a common interest (working out or something entirely different) and hold each other accountable for keeping up with it. It will be fun and you’ll get more committed to it. I don’t see any bad aspects in this sweet deal!
Some tips on the perfect house-share deal for digital nomads
- Choose AirBnB over EasyRoommate or similar websites – it is more suitable for short-term lettings and every accommodation has reviews from past tenants/visitors
- Contact the landlord to ask about the property, the neighborhood, the amenities – be extra-friendly and talk yourself up
- Negotiate the price – the fact that the listing has a price on the website doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone
- Book at least a month – monthly rents usually get a generous discount, because you pre-pay the whole month like a regular tenant, rather than paying per night like a hotel guest