Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 21
A House for Two ... Or More
Annamarie Pluhar '76
Courtesy Geoff Mamlet / Pearce, Myleen Hollero/ Pluhar, William Wrobel
AFTER MORE THAN 21 YEARS of living in shared
housing, Annamarie Pluhar '76 realized that her
knowledge and experience could be helpful to others. Her consulting business, Sharing Housing,
aims to help people-especially Boomers-find a
peaceful home in shared housing.
She has written a book, Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates, and a
workbook, Home-Mate Compatibility Assessment
Toolkit, and has created a private Facebook page to
help others understand the benefits of sharing
housing. She also does workshops and presentations on the topic.
Pluhar says the biggest challenge to the idea
of sharing is fear. "It's rooted in the way we think.
We have an idea in American culture that if you
are not in a relationship and you are not living
with family, that you are supposed to live alone,"
explains Pluhar. "But why is that? Why are people,
especially those over the age of 55 or 60, too proud
to live with someone else?"
She may be on to something. A study by Pew
Charitable Trust shows that "living with loneliness
increases your odds of death by 45 percent." Yet,
since 1970 the Census Bureau has reported an increase in the number of people living alone in the
United States. In 2013, 12
"We have an idea in
percent of men and 15
American culture that if percent of women lived
you are not in a relation- alone. In cities, that numship and you are not
ber rose to about half of
living with family, that
"Boomer women, esyou are supposed to live
alone. Why is that?"
-Annamarie Pluhar '76
ends meet," says Pluhar,
"and companionship through sharing housing
while also saving money can be a huge, huge,
But Pluhar, who is originally from New York
City and lives in Vermont with housemates, says
the fear of living with someone is often greater than
the fear of living alone. That's why Pluhar's company focuses on the critical selection process.
Sharing Housing's workbook helps determine each
individual's "have-to-haves" and "can't-live-withs,"
says Pluhar, "because those are at the center of everything." A seemingly minor but perfect example
is dishes in the sink. Are they okay (and for how
long) or are they a non-starter? Even the number
of people cohabiting is important to success.
(Pluhar says three is generally better than two.)
According to the U.S. Census
Bureau in 2013
As with Pearce's SherpaShare, Mamlet's
workspace-sharing companies, and Leu's italki,
social connection is key to the business of Sharing
Housing. "Companionship can make people
healthier," says Pluhar. And, connection can
In January 2016, Time magazine wrote: "It's
clear that the demand for this way of working
and consuming is profound." Indeed, economists estimate that in 2016 the sharing economy
was $90-million strong, and predictions point
to further growth.
-Cari Shane is a journalist, PR consultant, and
social media strategist in Washington, DC.
VA S S A R Q u A R T E R LY