New Trend: House sharing - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

New Trend: House sharing

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(WOIO) -

There's a new trend to put a very nice roof over your head and save money.

We are not talking about getting a roommate, renting a room or moving back home with mom and dad -- it's called house sharing and it's a growing trend.

Three baby boomers merged their furniture, their wine glasses, their china and their book collections. They sold their old homes and bought a new house together. They joined two million other Americans over the age of 30 who have a house mate or roommate.

"It made amazing economic sense," said Jean McQuillin, Shared House Owner. 

Jean McQuillin, Louise Machinist and Karen Bush are all are divorced, in their early 50's and have professional full time jobs. They met at church and created what they call a "cooperative household."

Each woman has her own bedroom and bathroom but they share the common areas of the house, chores and expenses.

"We are all really busy. We're hardly ever all here at the same time," said Louise Machinist, Shared House Owner. 

When the trio is home together, sometimes they throw parties, play games and dote on their shared house cat. Before they moved in, an attorney drew up this legal agreement addressing issues like: how long visitors can stay, what if a house mate wants to sell or leave, and what happens if someone passes away? And they made sure they clicked.

"On some level you have to share values in order to make things work," said Karen Bush, Shared House Owner. 

The idea of sharing values, chores, and sometimes even child care is sparking entire co-housing communities across the country. There are now 125 of these special developments. Families buy regular homes which surround a main common house with a common kitchen, a space for the entire community to share.

"Taking the stress off of parents in having to do everything for their kids and not sharing the load is really to me the heart of the American dream," said Rebecca Lane, CoHousing Association of United States. 

If you are not interested in a co-housing community, but simply a shared house? Experts suggest creating an agreement on how to share expenses and chores; set boundaries outlining what you can and can't live with; check references of potential house mates; and ask why someone wants to move.

"You need to know that people are solid about paying, that they're going to be a reasonable person to be around," said Annamarie Pluhar, Shared Housing Expert. 

Experts also say communication and compromise are key to solving problems. Karen, Jean and Louise love their arrangement.

"You can make something wonderful happen if you can find the right people to do it with," said Louise. 

If you're considering someone as a house mate, experts suggest running a credit or even criminal background check on the person.

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