Housemate Desirability and Understanding the Social Dynamics of Shared Living

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Shared living among young adults is an increasingly widespread way of life in the Western world, yet surprisingly little is known about this lifestyle. The rationale for this research was to increase understanding of the social dynamics of these non-kin households. Data was obtained from interviews with experienced New Zealand house sharers aged 20 to 35. Detailed discourse analysis is presented of housemate desirability with three key discourses involved. First, ideal coresidents are acutely aware of the necessity for a fine balance between being sufficiently sociable with each other, while simultaneously respecting the necessity of individual privacy and independence. Second, those with similar lifestyles, life stages, values, and expectations of each other are more conducive to compatibility. Third, mutual trust and feeling comfortable with housemates is imperative. The current research provides a window into contemporary lives of young adults and contributes to a broader knowledge of how nonfamilial relationships can work successfully or fail in the intimate confines of domesticity.

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