COVID-safety living and working from home are reshaping house sharing

Sharing a home with other people can be an enjoyable experience but can also be fraught with difficulties, especially when a highly infectious and potentially life-threatening disease comes along.

Suddenly not only did people need to deal with the everyday things involved in sharing – paying the bills, cleaning the kitchen area and waiting to use the bathroom (it’s the same with teenage kids by the way) – they also had to decide how to deal with COVID-risk.

In my own case, my partner’s teenage children actually brought home COVID and infected a sibling living with us causing major issues for both of us (both in our 50s). We would not have had to deal with that if we were not mixing different generations. Separation among extended families is equally difficult as shared households.

But people need to find a place to live and whether as a result of a poor COVID-lockdown experience or because a tenancy has expired people need to decide where and with whom they would find most comfortable … and safe.

A home shared with like-minded and similar-aged housemates could potentially be safer, but only with the right housemates.

Living with COVID-lockdown

Recent research shows that there were a range of responses to the lockdown and a range of experiences from living through it. As the chart below shows, most carried on as before and stocked up ready to stay in more. But for some it was a chance to make changes.

How did you prepare for lockdown?

Many people have spoken about relatively positive lockdown experiences, although the space you have, the access to green spaces and of course who you live with have a big impact on that.

So it was good to see that there was roughly a 50/50 split between those saying it was more difficult and those saying it was the same or better during lockdown.

On the positive side, people talked about having more peace and time – time to think, to be more considerate, to cook for each other and time to get to know each other better. 15% were ‘positively surprised by how helpful my landlord / tenants have been’. 17% said they would be ‘more likely to share in future’.

On the negative, 46% of respondents said they had found the period ‘very difficult or more difficult due to financial or social issues’. This experience led 22% to say they would be ‘less likely to share in future’.

Responses did include people saying they ‘treasured their friends’ more than ever, never want to live alone again and know how important it is that they live with like-minded people who have ‘become like friends’. Many different experiences; many different responses.

Looking forward

New data from shows how, housemates and landlords have decided to approach this by indicating their COVID-safe and WFH preferences when looking for a new room/new tenant.

The data shows that live-in landlords and tenants are pretty aligned concerning WFH arrangements, but that landlords are more open to flexible COVID safety. This could be because more private landlords want to attract clients, in what has been a tightening market. With so many properties, especially in cities, being unused by business people and tourists for short-lets, owners are trying to attract longer-term tenants. – House sharing for the over 40s

For more information on Cohousing and Intergenerational Housing generally, including Nick’s previous blog Incentives and barriers to co-living in later-life, check out the Housing LIN’s dedicated pages,



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