Shared Housing FAQ

What is a Cooperative in Regards to Housing?


Sharing a domicile in order to cut expenses like:

  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Internet Connection
  • Phone Line(s)

What is a Communal Household?


Sharing expenses (as discussed on the Cooperative page, but also giving each other several kinds of personal and political support.

What is a Communal "Family"?


A group with a longer-term commitment to each other and a wider range of interactions.

What are the Top Reasons Someone Would Want to Live in a Shared Housing Arrangement?

Many people have a hard time thinking about sharing housing. The idea of making a change in the way they live is difficult and easily rejected. When a person considers sharing housing, a whole range of objections quickly surface. 

"I can't imagine living with a stranger(s)."

" I don't want to lose my privacy."

"I'm too sloppy."

""I'm too neat."

"I don't like loud music."

"I'm too set in my ways."

"What if it doesn't work out?"

"No one could live with me."

If you are considering sharing housing and are hesitant, the best thing to do is to go through the Shared Housing portion of the site. Once you understand the process of finding and keeping good Home-Mates, you will see that you can manage most of the particular concerns about sharing housing that you have.


The top reasons to share housing are:

For a person who is limited in what they can do by virtue of age or infirmity, a Home-Mate can mean the difference between being able to stay at home or having to move to a facility with paid assistants. There are programs around the world that work specifically to match seniors and others with Home-Mates for reduced or even free rent in exchange for regular help around the house. 

This help can include:

  • Cooking
  • Shopping
  • Cleaning
  • Companionship at meals

Program staff often screen candidates, makes matches and helps the Home-Mates to ensure that the match is satisfactory for both parties.


Other people turn to sharing housing when looking for help with child care. Single parents might be interested in having a live-in person who would occasionally be able to baby-sit their children. Often this individual will get reduced rent for their service and possibly a stipend.


Whatever arrangement you have, it is essential to be clear about your expectations when advertising and interviewing for potential Home-Mates.


Sources: Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates

Contributors:  Annamarie Pluhar

Recommended Books: Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates

What Does Shared Housing Mean?


Shared Housing is a negotiated agreement between adults about how they will live under the same roof.

People share housing in:

  • Cities
  • Suburbs
  • Out in the country

They share:

  • Ranch Houses
  • Townhouses
  • Apartments
  • Condominiums
  • Flats

There are as many variations as there are people, types of homes, and locations.

Shared Housing is for adults of any age and all circumstances:

  • Graduate Students
  • Retirees
  • Working People
  • Empty-Nesters
  • Single Parents
  • Business Professionals

Home-mates can be of the same generation or of different generations.

They might be the same or different in terms of:

  • Gender
  • Class
  • Nationality
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Race
  • Life Circumstances

The variations are infinite!


Sources: Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates

Contributors: Annamarie Pluhar

Recommended Books: Sharing Housing: A Guide for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates

What is Co-housing?

Co-housing Communities offer great family neighborhoods owned and managed by the residents themselves-ideal places in which to raise children or grow older. In fact, elder co-housing, a new but growing trend in the co-housing movement, offers seniors an appealing alternative to retirement Communities.


In co-housing Communities people live in smaller-than-normal housing units, often in two-story townhouse-style dwellings, and share common ownership of a large "common house" with kitchen, dining room, meeting space, children's play area, laundry facilities, and other shared amenities, and in which they share optional meals several nights a week.

Urban Group Households of various kinds offer their residents lowered housing costs, shared expenses, and a lively social scene. Some urban Communities are organized as housing co-ops, including student housing co-ops, elder housing Co-Ops, and limited equity housing Co-Ops. These allow students, elders, and people with limited funds , respectively, to share ownership of their housing, share resources, make decisions cooperatively, and enjoy a closer connection to their neighbors than they would simply living in apartment buildings or condos.

Rural back-to-the-land homesteads offer their members the opportunity to grow much of their own food and practice rural self-reliance skills. Communities organized as conference and retreat centers, holistic healing centers, and sustainability education centers are often rural, food growing settlements as well, offering workshops and courses to the public.

Spiritual communities such as yoga ashrams and Buddhist meditation centers provide spiritual teaching and common spiritual practices, while spiritually eclectic Communities welcome members with a variety of different spiritual paths, and ofen offer public workshops on a wide variety of spiritual and personal growth themes. Some spiritual Communities, such as the over 100 Camphill Communities in Europe and North America, serve the needs of developmentally disabled adults or children in a Community setting.

Christian Communities offer Chrisitan fellowship and shared worship. Some are income-sharing some are not. Some Christian Communities also provide needed services to others, for example, the Catholic Worker Communities in many cities offer food and shelter for the urban homeless. By the way,most scholars of Intentional Communities include Catholic monasteries and convents, which they consider the most long-lived form of Intentional Community in the Western world.

In most income-sharing communes, members operate one or more Community businesses. Each member receives room and board, and the Community either pays them a small stipend or pays their basic needs such as:

  • clothes
  • toiletries
  • nutritional supplements
  • medical care

and so on. In some income-sharing communes members work outside the Community, and pool their salaries or wages, with the same arrangement- receiving room, board, and a stipend, or the Community pays for their basic needs.

Take note: "Commune" is used in this income-sharing sense, and not as a synonym for "Intentional Community," as many journalists mistakenly do.





Sources:  Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community

Contributors: Diana Leafe Christian

Recommended Books: Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community