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What Is Homesharing?

Question: what is homesharing?

It’s pretty simple, really. Homesharing is another example of the sharing economy, like ridesharing or coworking. It’s shared housing in which a homeowner chooses to live together with at least one other non-related person in exchange for rent (and sometimes, in exchange for help around the house). 


Isn’t this kind of thing just for college kids and young adults? Or senior shared housing?

Actually, homesharing is for everybody! At Silvernest, we’ve seen successful homesharing with older adults, families, young adults and even cross-generational households. In fact, science shows that homesharing might actually be even better for older adults in terms of preventing isolation. One study by AARP states that living alone after 50 is the equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of impact on your health.

Beyond the financial and health benefits, there’s also the added security for everyone involved. Homeowners value the security of having another person in the house and adult children relish the peace-of-mind that there is someone else there if their mom or dad needs help


Things that sound like homesharing but aren’t: 


An intentionally formed community, often built in a cluster of private homes within and around shared spaces such as a central green. All members of a cohousing community agree to certain shared responsibilities and commitments. 

Legally, cohousing communities are set up like a homeowner’s association or housing cooperative in which all homeowners participate. Sometimes, individual homes in a cohousing community may be leased to a non-homeowner tenant. There are certain communities set up expressly as cohousing for seniors, communities with a shared religion, eco-villages, etc.    



Historically, similar to co-housing, except that the private space is reduced mainly to personal bedrooms. Kitchens, dining/living areas and sometimes bathrooms are shared. 

These days, co-living is most similar to co-working. Individual renters pay monthly for living space within a converted single family home, modified multifamily unit, or a purpose-built property—which is owned by the co-living real estate company. 

These co-living properties tend to be geared around Millennials seeking a more affordable option in dense, high-priced urban areas. Some co-living companies have evolved the concept into membership-based communities in which built-in friends are just one of many luxury perks and amenities.


Landlord/tenant or sublease

A landlord/tenant relationship is a legally defined relationship in which two parties agree to a contract that allows the tenant to live in the leased space owned by the landlord. A sublease or sublet is a legal agreement in which a tenant assigns their lease to a third party. 



AirBnB and Vrbo are the US leaders in the short-term rental industry, which offers hotel alternatives for vacations and occasional business travel. On Airbnb, “hosts” can rent out private and shared rooms, as well as entire homes. (VRBO lists entire homes only.) Both hosts and guests pay a fee to use these platforms. These rentals can range from short-term apartment rentals to monthly rooms for rent.


Boarding House

Traditionally, boarding houses were private homes in which an onsite landlord/homeowner charged rent in exchange for “room and board”—a small bedroom and some (or all) meals. Today, boarding houses are making a comeback as affordable housing options in the form of  “pod apartment” buildings and existing single-family homes renovated to have as many as six or seven small bedrooms. In either model, all residents share dining, kitchen and other public spaces. 


How is homesharing different, then? 

  • Like cohousing, co-living and boarding houses, homesharing is a form of shared housing—in other words, sharing space with one or more other residents. 
  • Like cohousing and co-living, there may also be agreements that spell out responsibilities around the shared home. 
  • Like cohousing for seniors, homesharing can empower people to age in place more successfully. 
  • Like landlord/tenant relationships, homesharing involves a legal lease agreement. 
  • Like Airbnb and VRBO, homesharing can allow homeowners to earn income from their unused space.

That’s where the similarities end. 

Modern homesharing involves a robust platform that provides compatibility matching before the homeowner and potential renter ever connect. Both parties know their compatibility score with potential housemates—based on their own unique living preferences and priorities—so they can choose whether to connect and discuss next steps. In a landlord-tenant, co-living or boarding house situation, people don’t have this opportunity to understand on a detailed level whether they are likely to live comfortably with each other (or not). Essentially, you get what you get. 

What’s more, modern homesharing includes complete identity verification as well as optional background screening for peace of mind. In fact, Silvernest offers a full suite of resources to help ensure a smooth relationship.


Why homeshare? Because of the impact. 

Homesharing connects compatible people who might not otherwise meet, making life more interesting and opening up new avenues for conversation and community through shared housing. Homesharing can help alleviate social isolation and loneliness, thereby improving both physical and mental health. Plus, homesharing can save renters money while providing income for individual homeowners. 

On a broader level, homesharing can help keep older adults  in their homes and preserve their ties to local businesses, friends, religious groups, volunteering and other touchpoints that knit communities together. Because homesharing involves existing homes, it’s a more sustainable option than new housing—increasing density by making better use of unused space, with little to no neighborhood disruption.


How do I get started?

If homesharing sounds interesting to you, you’re in the right place. Visit Silvernest to browse listings in your area and get started today! 

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