Sharing your home with a lodger - can you predict compatibility?

Intergenerational home sharing has gone mainstream, if the latest reality TV show on C4, Lodgers with Codgers, is anything to go by. I caught the first episode that went out on Friday night, that began with a speed dating event, where older people were paired with prospective younger lodgers, in an attempt to create a ‘match.’

Clearly staged for maximum how-wrong-can-this-go effect, it nevertheless managed to highlight the multiple housing challenges faced by both ages of the age spectrum – from the older, single woman, living on a low income who could barely afford the upkeep of her property to the multiple younger contestants, all of them still living at home with their parents and many siblings.

Lately I’ve been doing lots of thinking about what defines compatibility, the nuances of our behaviour that often are overlooked in the tick box world in which we live.

For instance, I’m an early morning person. I wake up usually around 5.30-6ish and lounge around in bed until what I consider to be an acceptable time to actually get up and take a shower. That usually means about 7am which I don’t consider to be ridiculously early but may be to some who don’t usually crawl into bed until 3am. I’ve dated late night people and it never worked for me, or I needed to take a nap in the afternoon just to be able to keep my eyes open beyond 10.

I also like healthy food. I’m not a vegan or overly strict about what I eat, other than I like to cook food from fresh. I’ve slowly been transitioning my diet to no meat, mainly because my partner is a pescatarian. I’ve discovered that I don’t miss meat in my diet and, when presented with a menu, am noticing I favour the meat-free choices. Would I still share my home with someone who was a meat eater? Yes, definitely. Would I prefer to live with someone who favoured takeaways over home cooked food? Probably not.

My kids think I’m a clean freak but I consider myself tidy. When it comes to others, if they want to treat the floor of their bedroom as the laundry basket, that’s down to them but in shared spaces, I like the area to be organised. What I’m saying is that on a scale of 1-5, you can be a 5 for tidiness in kitchen and a 1 in your own bedroom and I’m OK with that.

"Let’s collectively work on solving one of the great, housing challenges: how we can optimize space and compatibility between occupants to create harmonious households"

Online dating is a good barometer when considering what constitutes compatibility and how, over the years, businesses with the sole purpose of helping you find the ideal mate have tried to work it out. I met my partner on Tinder and, aside from his attractive photo, he had me when he said he knew how to cook and put down the toilet seat. There’s more to compatibility than shared feelings about cleanliness or noise or whether you prefer eating out to eating in. And the same goes for living together when you’re not in a couple.

Managing space in a flat that was never intended for shared occupancy beyond a single family or a couple is hard. It’s hard because when there’s nobody to tell you to get your stuff off the table because dinner is being served or to tidy up your room because the floor is no longer visible, then it’s up to the individual occupants to take responsibility and what that means to each of us is understandably not always clear.

When there’s not enough private space to go around or you find yourself occupying the same table but for different purposes such as a dining table or an office, it can be tiresome and a bone of contention. I’ve yet to see any definitive study as to how much space humans ideally need to occupy for their wellbeing because I suspect it varies from person to person and there may be cultural differences to be factored into the equation.

In an ideal world, homes would be developed to allow its occupants to ‘age in place,’ providing them with the necessary space requirements to be fit for purpose no matter what their living circumstance happens to be. I’m not only considering mobility issues but also consideration given to live in carers or lodgers. Moving and partitioning walls, enough bathrooms to allow for one’s needs, shared or not shared social spaces.

COVID-19 has transformed our world in many ways, beyond the decision of whether to wear a mask or not. As someone who hosts on Airbnb as well as have a lodger, I’ve noticed my concern around hygiene and around how others feel about it is yet another on my getting-longer-everyday list of stuff to consider when living with others.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the lodgers manage to find happiness with a ‘codger.’ I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

And if you would like to talk through any of the issues raised in this guest blog and/or find out how the Housing LIN can assist your organisation, email us at:


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