Would you love to live with a family and enjoy the perks of being part of their unit? Here’s what lodging with someone’s else’s nearest and dearest is really like.

Sustainable marketing consultant Eleanor Snare moved into a family home in Leeds in November 2016 when her previous tenancy ended, and has fallen in love with her new way of life. Her rent is £350 a month (including bills), and she rents a cosy mid-sized attic room overlooking the garden. “I can look out over the neighbourhood,” she says. “I absolutely love it.”

House exterior

“I was paying £355 before, not including bills (it was around £400 a month) and I was living in a student area which was very noisy!” she says. “I moved in with the family was because our lifestyles really suited each other - we all work part time for ourselves, and run creative businesses. The two daughters, who are 13 and 18, are really independent and great fun - we get on well, and spend time together. We're also particularly into being outside and gardening; it helps that we have things in common!

“I lived in shared housing before, and while some housemates were lovely, others didn't gel with me. To me, a family is just like a big set of housemates – there’s no difference.”

When it comes to the suggestion of making lifestyle changes, Eleanor is quick to point out her family don’t limit her at all. “I feel totally at ease - I don’t have a curfew, or any weird rules to live by,” she says. “They love my partner coming over, too – it’s not like I can’t have guests. The only thing that’s new is I have to remember not to leave chocolate where the dog can get at it!”

House kitchen

Eleanor is living with the family so she can take control of her outgoings - and she’s also managed to halve her stress levels, thanks to the reduced financial responsibility. “In my previous shared house I was in charge of bills and liaising with the landlord, and it became very frustrating,” she says. “Living with a family means I don't have that responsibility; I can make sure my focus is to be a good lodger and enjoy my time living there. They take care of the bill payments!”

“I’ve definitely been able to boost my savings,” she continues. “Not huge amounts, but I've noticed an improvement. I'd like to live on a boat so I think I'm saving for that! But also I love travelling, so I generally just save to travel every couple of years. This arrangement gives me much more financial flexibility, and as I mentioned, I don’t have as much to think about. There are no nasty surprises at the end of the month.”

Eleanor has heard a few people suggest that lodging is a little ‘outdated’ or maybe even creepy, but for her, it’s simply not the case. “There's a really outdated perception of lodging which is that sort of 1960s/70s vibe; one of single people, living with a family or a widow, getting their meals cooked and not being able to bring people home or stay out late. There are, of course, lodging situations like that - but it's also 2017 and times have changed. And there’s no hierarchy - apart from the cats, who see themselves at the top of the food chain - I’m one of the gang. I like having my own personal space in my room so I do hang out in there if I want to watch Netflix or do yoga, but I feel very comfortable in the rest of the house.”

She’s not related to the family (she was a stranger when she moved in after seeing their offer to rent a room online) but she feels very much a part of the dynamic. “It’s lovely, because everyone is kind and caring,” she explains. “It's a mix of ages and interests which is inspiring.

“The house feels like a home - unlike many of the shared houses I've lived in - because it is; the family have lived here for nearly 10 years, collected beautiful things and raised children. We have two cats and a dog, and it's a place you can relax and be at ease. I’m very happy here."

Eleanor would love to live on a boat one day, so she’s content to stay where she is for now and save up. “I'm just going to see how I feel and move when the time is right. A boat could well be my next move!” she smiles. “We’ll see!”

You can follow Eleanor on Twitter here.

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