On Sharing a Home

Published at 12:09 on 1 April 2012

In principle, it’s something I like, because I have found that living by myself can be unduly lonely at times.

In practice, I do not think it is for me, because a variety of factors intersect in my life, and the end result of this intersection is that there really are not many suitable shared housing opportunities out there.

The first factor is that I’m nearly fifty years old, and like most people my age, I’ve managed to accumulate a set of personal possessions that reflect both my interests and my life history. It’s not an excessive set of possessions by any means (I haven’t filled up an entire house with them), but it’s more than can fit in a single bedroom.

The second factor is that with one exception, shared-housing opportunities tend to involve but a single bedroom; in other words: just not enough space for me and my possessions. What I’ve done the past two years is to cram about half of my stuff into a storage locker, but I’m starting to miss having access to some of that stuff. The exception is if one is the senior partner, i.e. a homeowner looking to rent out a room. The senior partner is expected to come with a house full of things, and only offer an empty room to the junior one.

The problem with being a senior partner is that I have no desire to become a homeowner: I don’t like Seattle enough to be willing to make such a commitment to staying here long-term. Seattle works well for me right now because I’ve found a job that seems to be a good match. However, if that job vanishes, and I find work in someplace more to my liking such as Bellingham, I want to have the freedom to pack up and leave town.

The third factor relates to collective houses, i.e. properties owned by a collective where I would be an equal partner, not a junior or a senior one. There’s actually one which is a very good match for me here in Seattle, all things considered. But I’d still get merely a room, and the location of that property leaves much to be desired, because it’s surrounded on three sides by freeways. Not only is that an aesthetic downer, experience has taught me that excess exposure to tire dust and other traffic-related toxins makes me significantly less healthy (the dirtier the air, the more often I get colds, and the longer it takes to get rid of them).

At this stage, collective living ends up being very much like living in the city of Portland: it’s something which is very appealing in the general case, and not very suitable for me once one brings the particulars of my life into it. So it’s back to living in a single-person household for me, at least for a while.

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