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My spouse and I are poor. There's no getting around it.

One way we deal with this is that we participate in a house share. We pay roughly what we would for 1 bedroom apartment, but we have all utilities included, as well as the ability to garden. We also have a line into the community, since the house owner, C, has lived in the area since birth.

In some ways, it's great. In others, it's not.

(This is the first day I've been at my computer for almost a week. Yay for things percolating while you're laid up sick!)

Upsides--Let's start with the happy, eh?

There's someone there if something goes wrong. One of us runs out of gas or has car trouble, or perhaps needs a ride? You need to get to the hospital? You need car repairs? Well, there's 6 of us living here. You're almost guaranteed to get a lift, a hand, a few working with the wrenches, or someone to run the gas can down to you (we keep one on hand, full, just for the purpose!). No one grumbles about it, because we've all been there.

When food is low (and we're all low-income, it happens), or even if you just happen to be working extra hours and don't have time to cook, others will pitch in. I cook in large batches (and I freeze some, so that Cailín Ard has stuff to take to work) and let everyone know when it's okay to dig in. C will bring home stuff from her Eastern Star events, and let's the rest of us know if we can partake. J bakes, but rarely does she want to eat all of the cookies herself!

A couple of times a month, we all get together, cook a meal, eat, and play games. J kills everyone in Apples to Apples, everyone hates my turns in Trivial Pursuit, C and her daughter are an evil team in Pictionary.
Also, if one of us wants to go out, sometimes we invite the others. Or we watch movies here together (2 of us doing yarnwork!). We sit and chat over tea, since we all drink tea.

Small cash is lent back and forth, and if someone is going to the store, it's rare that the offer to pick something up isn't made. We know each others habits, so if C or I are going to Michaels or AC Moore, it's a given that the other might need a notion!

There's a huge yard for me to take Pùka out in, where he's safe to run off-leash. Everyone here loves him, so he gets lots of scritches, and I have people who think it's fun to help with some of the training games that I do with him.

And if someone needs space, there's no judgement for hanging out in your room for a while.

But there are Downsides, too.

We ran out of oil a while ago. Cailín Ard, J and I know that we're pretty much the ones that are going to deal with the wood furnace... C and her daughter tend to forget.

C's daughter, K, is in her first year of college. We like when she's at school--hell, C was counting the days before K started! K is a slob, and proud of it. Her bedroom is her business, but sometimes we'll go without soup bowls because they've been left in there. Her dishes stay scattered around the house, as do her clothes. C is fed up by it, so leaves it. Also, no food is safe from K, even unopened packages in other's cupboards or shelves. Thankfully, she is at school most of the time.

Of course, there's the lack of privacy, and the fact that I can't arrange things to suit myself! :) I am irked that I don't have a kitchen of my own, and both Cailín Ard and I have to be quieter than we would otherwise be, for the mental health of others. Ahem. But we also have front-row seats when C & K get in fights, and those spill over. It's bound to happen, we're all stressed. It also means that others know when Cailín Ard and I fight.

The big issue, for me, is the ableism. Some things, C understands (arthritis, migraines). Others, and she'll go 'annoyed mother' on you (fibromyalgia, thyroid, Reynaulds). K, of course, thinks that anything she can do, you should do better (ah, to be a kid again). It would be nice to be able to rest through a virus without having to worry about my housemates getting annoyed (even though it doesn't impact them). But because they got over it in 3-5 days, they think I should, too (I have a compromised immune system). And there's the shame of having people hear you cry when you're in so much pain that it's the only thing that you can do, but they're sure that you're exaggerating.

So, there's good and bad. Do I wish it could be different? Sometimes. I am looking forward to putting the garden in this year, which I couldn't do without this houseshare. And I don't have to worry about not having internet!

Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 8:39 AM PT: Wow, Community Spotlight! Thanks!

Sorry that I'm just getting back to the comments, we live on second shift. I'm catching up. :)

Originally posted to Lorelei who now lives in Maine on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:48 PM PST.

Also republished by SurviveAndThriveKos and Community Spotlight.

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