Living high on the hog … on a freelancer’s budget

Microhousing lets me enjoy a fabulous style of living at an affordable price because of the small living units, shared facilities and services, and efficiencies of scale.

One example, my prime reason for living here: I would never be able to afford a private chef as a single, modestly paid freelancer, but here I can have delicious, freshly made meals waiting for me downstairs every day. Food waste is minimal, and leftovers from breakfast, lunch, and dinner go in the communal refrigerator and disappear post-haste.

Another example: I’ve never felt able to splurge on a housekeeper’s services, but here our bathrooms are cleaned and carpets vacuumed monthly.

I’m pained to remember how much I spent on plumbers in my 90-year-old condo, and how much planning went into contracting with one. We’d try to coordinate visits to several owners in a single day, so we could split the plumber’s $200+ charge for visiting the premises. Then there was the hourly charge, also in the hundreds…

When my toilet here got clogged, I contacted our maintenance woman, who’s on the premises every weekday. She came within a half hour and fixed the problem in five minutes. No charge. Ditto for the dusty air filter in the air conditioner and the screen door with a year’s worth of outdoor dirt on it: promptly replaced or washed.

With only two rooms, that’s about all the household duties I have, with the exception of laundry (which I can do in the free washers downstairs).

It takes five minutes to do the dishes every few days — rinsing out reusable plastic containers for leftovers, and the occasional personal plate or utensil.

I’ve begun corresponding with a co-living evangelist in France. He assured me that our community does meet the definition of co-living, then asked me if it was affordable. I put off responding because I wasn’t sure what to say.

One can certainly rent a studio apartment here in the University District for less (a colleague has a studio apartment up the street for $675/month, for instance, about half what I pay). A room in a quad, rooming house, intentional community, other shared situation is even less. But when you add in the costs for food, utilities, Wi-Fi, etc., and consider the convenience of not having to worry about any of that … I think it’s priceless.

ETA 10.3.19: I have since discovered, to my shock, that the median rent in Eugene is more than $1,300 — cruelly high, given that the average Eugene renter’s income is just $22,000. Eugene’s median rent alone is about what I pay here to receive lodging, meals, utilities, WiFi, and housekeeping. So I would say most definitely yes, this microhousing community is affordable, and I feel even more thankful to be here.

Published by Sherri Schultz

Writer & change-maker exploring micro-dwelling in Eugene, Oregon. Founder of Springfield/Eugene MicroDwellers: https://www.meetup.com/Micro-dwellers .

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