Co-living is rising in popularity across the globe, and for several good reasons. In the U.S. alone, about 10 million single mothers are trying to raise children on their own. In the U.K., there are nearly 3 million single-parent families. Unfortunately, the cost of living continues to rise, making it more difficult for parents to live on their own while raising children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made co-living an even more appealing idea. As of August 2020, the UK had cut nearly 750,000 jobs due to the pandemic. Many children have also been required to do eLearning from home, forcing parents to either find childcare options or stay at home.
To save money, co-living is gaining traction. There are many benefits if you can find the right roommate, including:
- Splitting the bills
- Splitting household chores
- Having more companionship
If you’re considering getting a roommate or moving in with someone else with your child, it’s important to know what to expect, and what you should consider before you even take that leap.
Finding the Right Roommate for Your Lifestyle
When you have a child, you certainly don’t want just anyone moving in with you. While it’s always important to do background checks and have some basic information about a potential roommate, it’s even more crucial when a child is living in the home. Keep in mind that the average British person only moves once every 23 years. So, if someone is looking for a new place to live, they might be going through a major life change, like a divorce or job loss. Knowing why they are looking for a new place and a roommate can help you to determine if they’re a good fit.
Once you feel comfortable with your new roommate, it’s important to make sure they’re compatible with your lifestyle, too. Your roommate might have to get used to things like:
- Extra noise around the house/flat
- You running frequent errands
- Children’s toys in main/common areas
In order to find a good roommate, never lie about your habits or interests, or any major factors of your life that might make them change their minds. Be upfront about having a child and what that might mean for your living situation. The right roommate needs to be okay with that lifestyle for things to work.
The Financial Issues
As stated above, one of the biggest reasons why people are more interested in roommates is to split expenses. Maybe you applied for a home loan on your own and it was denied. Having a co-signer can help your loan to get accepted. But, if you do have someone co-sign on a mortgage loan, it’s a good idea to make sure you trust them and you’re planning on living with them for a long time. In those cases, a significant other might be a better choice than a random roommate.
While the cost of living is relatively low in the U.K., if you’re out of a job due to COVID-19 or you can only work part-time to take care of your child, a roommate could be one of the best solutions to your financial issues. If you don’t want to commit to buying a house, consider getting a loan for an apartment and paying it back quickly since your roommate will be covering half the costs.
If you’re a single parent, you might be trying to get back on your feet, or even to save money. So, your roommate situation may only be temporary. The best thing you can do is to work out any/all financial issues with a potential roommate before you move in together. How will your bills be split? How will the groceries be handled? Will one of you pay rent and the other utilities?
In the end, both you and your roommate should be covering about the same amount of expenses, essentially cutting your personal bills in half.
Talking to Your Children
If your child is old enough to understand the concept of moving in with someone who isn’t family, it’s a good idea to talk to them about it and make sure they’re comfortable. Not only do they deserve to know what to expect from co-living, but they need to be aware of different rules and etiquette they should follow.
Undoubtedly, they’ll have questions about why you have to move, why you need a roommate, etc. Making things as transparent for them as possible will make the entire process easier. You can also choose to make them a part of the selection process, to an extent. If you’re considering someone as a potential roommate, have them meet your child. If you can find a roommate with likeminded beliefs, values, or even another single parent to connect with, it will often feel like a better fit for everyone.
As co-living becomes a more prominent practice, keep your needs, and wants in mind while thinking about what’s best for your child. Remember, your living situation doesn’t need to be permanent. But, if you can save money and form a positive relationship now, you can branch out on your own with more financial security for you and your child later.