I get tons of questions about what it's like sharing property with friends, which makes me happy because I assume that it means that other people are thinking about doing the same thing. I stumbled upon it by accident, but shared property with friends is one of the major awesomeness-multipliers in my life.
My first time sharing property with my friends was when we were in college and all bought a huge school bus together. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had a blast working on it and driving it around. It sounds like a situation that would be rife with conflict, but the only one that ever came up was the great debate over whether to make a mobile-enabled urinal. I lost the vote and we never made one.
Since then I've bought an island with my friends, a place in Budapest, part of a neighborhood in Vegas, a condo in Hawaii, am waiting on the perfect spot in Japan. Each one has been amazing. You get all of the benefits of having your own place, plus the benefits of having your friends visit all the time, all at a fraction of the cost of owning yourself.
The key, of course, is finding people who are easygoing and who can lead but don't mind not leading (i.e. competent people who won't contribute to "too many cooks in the kitchen").
A natural effect that occurs is that those who use the property the most will end contributing the most to it. I get the most use out of the island and Budapest by far, but I'm also the one hoofing around making it all happen. Other people come visit every year or two, but don't have to do anything. I didn't anticipate this dynamic, but it works very well in practice. Some people are in the middle and visit more often and help a lot. My friend Brian plays a huge role in the properties now and when we had a water leak in Budapest, four of us passed the baton and got it fixed.
I've found that the easiest way to handle finances is to open a bank account and a Stripe account. I estimate the costs to maintain the place, plus a big buffer for improvements and projects, and break it down into monthly and annual dues. Everyone can choose which one they pay, and it all happens automatically.
In practice, I unilaterally decide a lot of small things. Sometimes a small group of us decides. For example, if we're building a loft in the yurt on the island and need to spend a couple hundred on a new saw, we just do it. No point in making people vote on things like that. Any time we're going to do a big project, we discuss it in an online group. We've never actually had people vote down a proposal, but we've often gotten good ideas from people who weren't involved in coming up with it, and everyone likes to be on the same page.
Again, this is something that I thought may spur some more debate, but we've had the island for almost 5 years and Budapest for over 2, and it's been very easy. Partially this is because everyone trusts everyone else in the group, and all of our interests are aligned. When I pitch these properties I try to make a very clear case for what we are attempting to do, so that people know what they're getting into.
Reserving space on these properties is never a problem, as we are all friends and would generally prefer that others are there at the same time. Once in a while someone will reserve a place for a trip with a significant other or family, but usually the goal is to get more owners to show up. We tend to post in advance when we're going, either to reserve or to entice others to join.
We also have an informal system where people who use the properties most should yield to those who use them less. Even if I had concrete plans to be in Budapest for a period of time, I would find other accomodations if someone who uses the place less frequently wanted to use it exclusively.
The way I think about it, I would rather have 10 tenths of different apartments than one whole one to myself. It costs the same amount to do it either way, but this way is far more conducive to great times around the world with some of my closest friends. If you have a similarly agreeable group of people, think about how you can do something similar.
Photo is a cool lizard that was on our windowsill in Hawaii. I had my collection of blog photos become corrupted somehow, so I'm running low. I'll have to go take so more.
Do any of your friends have small kids? Of all the things that could make it complicated, that's what I wonder about. I don't want to assume this type of arrangement would be easier because of a specific life-stage or family situation that allows for more frequent travel and fewer responsibilities.
I was going to hereby name this concept a "FriendBNB", but that name is already taken by a not-yet-launched startup.
Tynan, I think you should write a book just on this topic. You could have a chapter for each major item: how to handle finances, what the contract should look like, how to handle conflicts, how do partners enter/leave the partnership, etc.
I'd definitely buy that book!
Honestly I'm not sure I have that much more to say on it. I specifically design it so that none of these things become issues (no conflicts, no changes in ownership, simple bank account, etc)
Two days ago I closed on a property in Budapest (right where districts V, VI, and VII meet, if you know the area). It's not just my property, though. I share it with eight of my best friends. It's the latest piece of the puzzle in my recent quest to have home bases around the world in my favorite places.
We bought an island off the coast of Halifax, now a flat in downtown Budapest (best European city in my opinion), and are buying up a neighborhood in Las Vegas, with each of us owning our own apartments.
Tonight I'll sleep in our Budapest place. Tomorrow I'll fly to Halifax and stay on the island for a week. Then I'll fly back to Vegas. It is a really cool feeling to fly around the globe and always be home.
Now that I've done this a few times I'm going to share specifics on how it works and how we organize everything so that you can do the same. And before you dismiss the idea thinking it's too expensive or complicated, think about this: my share of the island, share of the Budapest place, and entire place in Vegas cost me around a fourth of the median sales price for a house in the USA. So while this sounds extravagant (and feels like it), it's actually very inexpensive compared to how most people you know live.
If anyone else is like me, they have more than one 'version' of themselves and each one serves almost a different purpose. For example, I'm the happy, confident and generally carefree me in front of my friends and mostly my family, however, with a certain group of my friends, the closer ones to me the people I actually trust, I also show them the me when I'm down and vulnerable. And of course with my lover I show him all of me, when I'm happy and carefree as well as when Im troubled or depressed ^ ^
So that's images - what other people show us and what we choose to show other people. Next is masks. Basically the same but with more of a 'hiding' element to it. So for example, a few days back I was feeling super depressed, really sick of life and I was only online to try and distract myself from my suicidal thoughts when a friend began talking to me. Talking to him, I had to act completely normal, which to be honest can be pretty tiring especially when I was already feeling so exhausted mentally to begin with.
Wearing masks in front of people has become basically second nature to me and I do it naturally like everyone else, to hide my weaknesses from other people. Not only my friends but my family, pretending I'm ok even when inside I'm torn apart. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not playing it like I'm the only person on earth who does this, I have to yet to find someone who doesn't, but I just want some more opinions on this and maybe some clarification as to why I don't feel like I can trust my family?
Also, I'm really selfish. Even when I hide my pain from other people, I sort of still expect them to notice I'm not ok, really selfish I know and basically seeking attention but sometimes I think we all need that- someone who can understand how youre feeling without you telling them. My boyfriend always somehow seems to be able to tell that I'm feeling depressed sometimes even before I notice which is pretty crazy but also rather nice; knowing theres someone out there you don't have to act in front of, who loves you and understands you and knows you as well as you know yourself ^ ^
Next is 'worlds', not literal worlds hence why its in quotation marks. Like many people, I keep my personal and family life apart. Yes I call it personal not social simply cuz I find that I 'socialize' with people I don't trust and include my friends as part of 'personal' since these are the people I trust.