A recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health examined anxiety and mental health outcomes of shared housing. Researchers conducted a survey of 834 young single adults living in shared housing and non-shared housing in Seoul, Korea. The results of the study were two-fold: first, those with a positive attitude toward shared housing were more likely to respond that their mental health status improved after they started living with housemates in a shared housing environment. Second, if young adults are forced to live in shared housing, this could increase the potential risk of social dysfunction of house-sharers. The researchers concluded that, based on the findings, they recommended policy measures for shared housing that include pre-occupancy interviews, resident behavior codes, and fostering a livable dwelling environment to ensure a healthier life in shared living arrangements.
And there you have it. We could have told you that.
Anxiety and Housemates
Looking back at my shared housing experiences and my own anxiety, I see very interesting pattern. My platonic relationships with my housemates had a positive influence on my state of mind. I rarely worried about bills never getting paid; if my car wasn’t running, my housemates either gave me a ride or lent me their cars; I was always included in social activities; they were happy to watch over the dog if I had to travel for work; and they became friends. Although that period in my life still had a lot of ex-beau residual drama, I never suffered from anxiety. I had stress, but I never felt excessive apprehension.
Anxiety and Cohabitation
A Washington Post article cites a Pew Research Center study “that cohabitation doesn’t deliver the same levels of happiness, trust and well-being that marriage brings.” I can attest that my cohabitating with my partners brought me more anxiety than well-being.
Anxiety and Living Alone
And now that I live alone, do I experience anxiety? Well, it’s a mixed bag. I enjoy my own company and having the entire space to myself. I never feel lonely, but there are times when the anxiety creeps in. I currently have no vehicle and getting to places I need to go causes me anxiety, but if I lived with someone who doesn’t want to play chauffeur or lend me their car that would make me anxious as well. I get anxious over canine health scares as well as my own, but living with a housemate doesn’t necessarily mean they want to hear about my health or the dogs’ agita du jour.
So Does a Housemate Dispel Anxiety?
When I look back to my previous living arrangements, living with my platonic housemates not only eased my anxiety, but I was also happier. I was fortunate to share a home with two very kind and accommodating housemates. And when the time comes that living alone is no longer a practical solution, I will return to shared housing.
Some folks may disagree with me and say that finding a good housemate is like looking for a needle in a haystack and the process alone will cause anxiety. But that’s not true. I believe if you have a positive attitude and simply do the necessary work, you’ll get what you want. You’ll be less anxious and even happier. As that study I cited above clearly states that “those with a positive attitude toward shared housing were more likely to respond that their mental health status improved after they started living in a shared housing environment.”
And there you have it.