With the rising costs of real estate and the increased desire to see the world, many expat hopefuls are choosing to expat home sharing as a way of building community, gaining local support, and saving money on rental costs.
What is home sharing for expatriates?
Many young people who move abroad have had the experience of seeking roommates as a way of quickly making friends while halving their rent costs. However, modern home-sharing goes so much further than that.
Homesharing is often arranged between a young person and an older person, where the young person can help the older person or provide companionship instead of paying rent. The young person may help with household tasks or errands such as grocery shopping or trips to medical appointments. In some cases, the older person doesn’t need much help, but is lonely and wishes for companionship.
Homesharing directly benefits not only elderly people, but also people with disabilities or support needs, single parents who need help with childcare, students who need low-cost accommodation, or professionals who are saving money for real estate.
Homesharing can help break down cultural, religious, or socioeconomic barriers. In many cases, participants are able to build close relationships with people they otherwise never would have met. The families of elderly participants report their loved ones having a greater quality of life when having a home sharer present, and the families can rest assured their family member is not alone.
Homesharing is not simply renting a room to someone. Homesharers would be welcomed to join in holiday celebrations, special moments with family, and generally, the focus of the relationship is not a financially transactional one.
Five Tips for Expat Home Sharing
1. Be realistic about your expectations of a home-sharing arrangement
If you are a potential home provider, think realistically about what you would want from a home sharer. Are you the type of person who values your privacy and solitude? Or would you benefit from day-to-day companionship? Do you feel comfortable sharing the common areas of your home? Would you like a home sharer who shares your interests or hobbies?
If you are a home seeker, you’ll need to think along the same lines. Do the demands of your career allow you to take on the household tasks that could be required of a home-share environment? What neighborhoods do you prefer – do you need access to public transportation?
Whether you are the home provider or the home seeker, you’ll need to consider whether you want to do a trial period, how you envision handling meals, and how you might draw boundaries around your private life.
2. Use a home-sharing program to find a match
While one could make their own home-sharing arrangement, there are certain risks involved. Using a known home-sharing program allows the program to match you to another home-sharing party, taking into consideration your needs and limitations. When people sign up for these home-sharing programs, the program is able to draw from a pool of people to form positive home-sharing situations. Homesharing programs screen their applicants, making it unlikely you will fall victim to a scam or an abusive situation.
Here are 3 homesharing sites to consider for global nomads:
- HomeAway is a well-known villa listing site, but is not an agent. It is popular with slightly older, more experienced global nomads
- Homestay is a unique home sharing site that is geared toauthentic local life
- Wimdu is one of the top search engine sites for city rentals listings
3. Decide ahead of time on shared responsibilities
Every home share situation is different, and it’s important for both parties to have their expectations in the proper place from the beginning. It may be that both parties are physically able to do household tasks and can decide ahead of time who will do what – for example, will one person be responsible for vacuuming and another for taking out the trash? How often will these things happen?
In a home share situation, it can frequently be the case that one person will be unable to do as many tasks as the other person. This should be known ahead of time, and will likely affect how the rent is calculated. For example, if the person providing the home is unable to do most household tasks, the home-sharing party would be aware of their heightened responsibility, and would often pay less rent because of this.
4. Consider a trial period
The thought of opening up your home, or moving in with a stranger, maybe very intimidating – that’s understandable! For many people, arranging a trial period of 2-4 weeks gives them comfort in knowing that they haven’t gotten themselves into an irreversible situation. During the trial period, the home seeker should maintain their current residence or should have another option lined up.
5. Plan ahead for the end of your time together.
As part of your arrangements at the beginning, you’ll want to decide on what will happen if one party decides to end the home-sharing relationship. This could be that one of you becomes ill, finds a romantic partner they want to live with, or has a career change that moves them away. No matter what the situation, it’s important to be ready.
Perhaps you want to arrange that you each require 30 days’ notice to change your situation, or that if one party is hospitalized or unable to fulfill their part of the arrangement, the other party has 30 days to make other arrangements. No matter what you decide, discuss your plans with close family or friends, and make sure the arrangement is legal. Again, most home-sharing programs will help with this step.
More Resources on Homesharing
Ready to take the plunge? Here are some resources to get you started!
HomeShare International – A great resource including a fantastic list of worldwide home-sharing programs.
Although some elements are a bit outdated, this resource is posted on several home-share sites and can be handy if there’s not a program in your area.
The National Shared Housing Resource Center has a resource guide on how to start a home-sharing program in your area.