In October 2013, Stephanie Günther gave a presentation at homo ecos: about “collaborative consumption”. In this series of nine blogs, she explains what it is, and how it can help towards a more sustainable society. Chapter 3: Houses, office space and hotel rooms.
Sharing houses and apartments is probably not very popular in Latvia since Soviet times and the obligation to share flats. But nowadays, you can choose the persons to share your home for a short or longer period, or the persons to whom you want to rent your home. And as in all renting and exchanging systems, you can of cause not only “give” but also “take”: you can benefit from all the offers worldwide for your holidays or for your professional needs!
Sharing houses, apartments or rooms is not new, but existed in the past rather for economic reasons: subletting a room in the apartment helped to pay the rent, or sharing an apartment helped students to reduce costs, as sharing a bigger apartment is cheaper than renting alone a studio apartment.
Nowadays, economic reasons can still be the cause of renting a room. But this can be less “enforced” and more “playful”: instead of subletting a room to someone who will permanently share your apartment, you can rent it from time to time to tourists who want to discover the country or city where you live. Or instead of renting a house or apartment for your holidays from an agency, you can exchanges house with other people.
In modern times with global networking, a wide range of lifestyles and a growing mobility with new needs, various forms of temporary renting or exchanging homes have emerged: renting furnished apartments or rooms to foreign students, to people doing a training or internship or who have an intermittent employment. Renting houses, apartments or rooms to tourists who do not want to be accommodated in impersonal hotel rooms or holiday flats, but who want to meet local people and share their lives for a short period, or exchanging houses or apartments with another family. Or offering people to live in your home and look after it for security reasons when you are absent for a longer period (“house-sitting”). Or giving free accommodation to people with few money (“couch-surfing”).
Some of these offers already exist on a commercial level in Latvia (agencies who rent furnished flats), but a lot of opportunities of sharing, renting or exchanging houses, apartments and rooms on a private or commercial level are still to be developed. So you can start your own business in Latvia and join the existing networks to broaden your offer, or you use the existing platforms to offer your room or house or apartment for rent or change (or free use! J). And you can of course look for an accommodation elsewhere in Latvia or another country for your own holiday or professional needs.
Apart from the economic benefit for people renting their apartments or rooms or for people who start their own business in this sector, this form of sharing accommodation has a number of ecological and social benefits: if the existing houses and apartments are better used, the need for building new housings and hotel grounds will diminish and with it the urban sprawl and destruction of natural sites. On a social level, accommodation sharing can help people to stay in their apartment and social environment, even if the apartment is too big after children have left home or after a separation. And it permits people with low budgets to discover other places and countries – and in general it makes meet people from different backgrounds and help to understand each other!
For a living or a professional purpose:
- Rent of a room or an apartment (furnished or not furnishes, shared or independent apartment, time-limited or even unlimited):
- UK: http://www.spareroom.co.uk/
- France: http://www.appartager.com/ (site also in English) or http://www.colocation.fr/
- Germany: http://www.mitwohnzentrale.de/ (worldwide network; site also in English) or http://www.homecompany.de/ (offer in different countries; site also in English) or http://www.zwischenmiete.de/ (offers especially for students; for short or long term rent) or http://www.wohngemeinschaft.de/ (offers especially for young people) or http://www.wg-gesucht.de/ (offers in different countries; site also in English)
For holidays and leisure:
- Rent a furnished room, apartment or house to (or from) a private person:
- Exchange houses or apartments:
- Offer (or look for) a sleeping accommodation in house or apartment (incl. house-sitting):
Author: Stephanie Günther