We Choose to Live With Roommates

What the Realtor Doesn’t Know

A few of the 24 garden beds

We were approached last spring by a realtor who was hoping we wanted to sell our house. I’m always thinking, “Maybe we’d like to have a smaller house on 5 acres. Maybe I’d like to plant a small orchard, grow a larger garden. Maybe my real future is in hazelnuts and sour cherries ….”

So I said yes, he could come by and give me an estimate of the value of my house on today’s market. I warned him our house wasn’t typical; and as I expected, he was unsure whether what we had going on here – our veggie gardens, fruit trees and edible landscape, solar PV and solar hot air, etc. – was a good thing or undesirable.

When he called back to give us a figure, using comps that were in no way comparable, he tried to sell us on the idea by saying we could finally get our own place (we have one) and stop living with roommates.

He doesn’t get it.

We  live with roommates for a lot of good reasons.

  • There is an affordable housing shortage in our community and we can provide some truly affordable space.
  • We earn some extra income, which we use to make repairs and upgrades to this 97-year-old house (most recently replumbing the laundry room).
  • It cuts our carbon footprint in half – and yes, that factored into our decision making! You can’t shrink your house but you can share it.
  • It increases security for all of us. We live in a city and I love it, but there is crime. With four people living and often working at home, there is someone here a lot of the time.
  • It keeps my husband and I in touch with younger folks. It’s amazing how age-segregated our society is! I want to stay connected with what younger people are thinking and doing. Our roommates are usually younger and the good ones bring friends with them.
  • When we rent to international students, we get to learn a lot about others cultures and we try new foods, like those scrumptious Colombian cheesy rolls. Yum!

While not a big factor in our decision-making, there are other benefits as well.

  • We own a lot of stuff cuz, uh, we’re “old.” By sharing kitchenware, towels, appliances, electronics, camping gear, etc., our roommates don’t need to buy it and we’ve reduced the pressure of consumerism.
  • We live in a bungalow community of mostly small, single-family homes. When we increase the number of people living here, we increase density, which is a factor in getting better bus frequency, and in attracting more local businesses!

Sometimes we don’t have the best roommates. Sometimes they aren’t that friendly or they have unfortunate habits (I’m sure we do, too). But with all of these benefits and the many ways house sharing supports our values, it’s really worth it to keep trying to find folks who are a good fit. Few decisions will have this big an impact.

About thinkofitasanadventure

We are a 50-something couple living in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. We attended a sustainability conference at our local high school in November 2010, with keynote speaker Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute. What we heard shocked us deeply. We finally understood the need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. We immediately began to change the way we live. We joined together with other folks in our neighborhood to learn more, to do more and to have fun doing it! We're part of Transition Longfellow. We're choosing to change now and to "think of it as an adventure." If you are on this journey too, we'd love to hear from you.
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2 Responses to We Choose to Live With Roommates

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Loved this post, Leslie!


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