The idea of homesharing is spreading rapidly.
More and more people are making a home-based living arrangement as they seek to boost their income.
It is a phenomenon which has already been witnessed in the UK and Europe.
And it has even made its way to South Africa, where some people are looking to use the home as a way to boost family income.
A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that homesharers may have a bigger impact on social mobility than previously thought.
The researchers, led by Dr Sarah Krieger, a clinical fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, say the number of people using homes as a home is on the rise.
They have studied how people use the internet to find homes, and have also looked at the role of home-sharing services.
“We are seeing an increased use of homes as people are searching for their next home,” said Dr Kriege.
“A growing number of homes are being shared with others in Australia.”
‘Not a new phenomenon’ The researchers found that people who live in a shared household, called a homeshare, are less likely to be employed, less likely than people who are not homeshare owners to have children, less educated, less well-off and live in poorer neighbourhoods.
However, when they use a homesharer service to find a new home, they are more likely to have access to social capital, a resource which helps people make better choices and boost their social standing.
The study also found that homeshare users are more apt to share information about the area and to make social connections.
Dr Kriesg said that this was a very new phenomenon, and was still largely unknown in the wider community.
“It’s really only a very small proportion of the population,” she said.
“I think it’s really important that people understand the concept and understand the potential benefits that homes will have for people.”
Dr Kreis said that people should be cautious about comparing homeshare rates.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty about whether homeshare is increasing, declining or not, but the real question is what the real benefits of homeshare will be, and what are the potential costs,” she added.
“And the answers to these questions are going to vary depending on where you live.”
For the study, researchers looked at data from a number of different data sources, including census data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Office of Social and Economic Research, the National Housing and Communities Council and the National Council of Social Services.
The authors then assessed the impact of different homeshare options, including homeshare orders, homeshare-related advertising and homeshared online access.
Home-sharing, which is often considered a home ownership alternative, is often seen as a solution for people struggling with affordability.
“The main benefit is that you’re giving your income to someone else, but you’re also giving it back to yourself and giving your family a way of supporting themselves financially,” said lead author Dr Kreyger.
“When you’re working from home, you’re basically not working as much.”
In this scenario, home-sharers tend to work longer hours, often at higher levels of stress, because they can’t be seen to be using the money to themselves.
Dr Matthew McQuade, who is an associate professor of social work at the Australian National University, said that although homeshippers were less likely and less well educated, they were also less likely on average to have poor health and to be unemployed.
“They tend to be more affluent, they tend to live in more expensive neighbourhoods,” he said.
However Dr McQuades warned that it is important to note that the researchers used different measures of social capital to investigate whether homeshiving services were having a positive or negative impact on the lives of people.
“One of the big challenges in studying social capital is that we don’t always have the data on how people are using their homeshares to connect with others,” he added.
This study found that, although people living in a homeship are less socially isolated than people living elsewhere, they also have lower incomes and less educational attainment.
“Homesharing does increase people’s social capital,” said study co-author Dr Kresnik.
“People have a sense of belonging to a group and that sense of social belonging tends to be associated with better social behaviour.”
Dr McQueens said that it was important to understand the underlying social factors behind the homesharpers’ behaviour, and that more research is needed to better understand how homeshippage is working in the community.
The full study can be found here.