Ordinarily active lives can so easily be derailed by sudden health problems. This was the case for Gaynor, a fitness professional, reflexologist and busy grandmother, now in her mid-sixties. Her slight frame, the consequences of a series of surgeries, belies a fiercely independent lady. Since her children left home, she has mostly lived alone in her four-bedroom house in North London.
“I haven’t been able to work for getting on for five years now which has made life very, very difficult, and I didn’t want to admit I needed support.” Gaynor says.
She was left temporarily unable to lift anything or carry out many household tasks following recent corrective surgery. How to resolve her need for assistance simply added to the stress of her soaring bills, until she discovered Hapipod.com, a website where she could find a compatible lodger who would give her practical help in exchange for lower room fees.
“Hapipod gave me the best of both worlds where I have a very sweet young person living with me who can give me some help around the house with various different things like heavy washing, a little bit of housework, chopping heavy fruit or vegetables, and also a little bit of money coming in for the room. So that’s perfect because I didn’t need a carer, I just needed a little bit of help.”
The Hapipod online matching platform enables householders and lodgers to search for compatible homesharers by background, personality and shared interests. Once connected they agree a room fee of between £58-£81 per week (£250-£350 per month) depending on room size and location, and in exchange, lodgers offer up to 8 hours a week of help with anything from upkeep to shopping, IT, pet-sitting or just providing good company. There are no ongoing management fees, just a £20 payment for an ID check and a fee to connect (with a choice different length packages starting at £45 for 1 month).
Through Hapipod, Gaynor found Christy, a young woman in her thirties, who came to the UK from Hong Kong to find work in the property business. Christy had signed up for this living arrangement to give her greater flexibility in one of the world’s most expensive cities.
“If I paid lots of rent I’d feel very stressed and nervous and rushed to take any job, but if I can exchange my time for reduced room fees I have more time to look for a better job. Or I’m more flexible to change job or to do what I prefer to do”.
Christy had spent a month scouring costly room rentals in overcrowded flatshares and undesirable areas, some at £800 per month, so Gaynor’s £350 per month fee meant a huge cost saving. It was also a relief to find it in a great location from where it was simple to commute to work, and the practical chores involved could easily fit around her jobs.
“I really enjoy it. I think it’s a comfortable place. It’s a safe area and my host is nice. She’s friendly, she’s flexible. I don’t have any pressure on like what time I have to finish. And she’s very easy to get along with, very understanding” says Christy.
There is a generation gap between them, and it is something that Gaynor finds refreshing.
“I enjoy Christy’s energy and her outlook when we have conversations. It’s very interesting because you can never have those sorts of conversations with your own children, as they regard you as someone who doesn’t know anything! Whereas when it’s somebody else who’s the same age, they don’t look at you the same way.”
For Christy, this is the first time living away from her parental home. Used to living with people a generation older, she knows that with Gaynor she will get more than just a roof over her head.
“I actually don’t find any difference between Gaynor and me. She’s not old at all. She’s brilliant. She’s a super woman, she’s very organised and knowledgeable. She tells me lots of things that I may need to know, she gave me lots of good ideas and I think there are lots of things I can learn from her.”
Ultimately for Gaynor, this homeshare can mean the difference between a cloudy day or a silver lining.
“Getting over this rather traumatic operation, at times, it’s possible to wallow a little bit in feeling horrible. And when Christy’s here, when I hear her come in, I always make a point of saying ‘hello, what have you been up to, how’s your day?’ And it stops me being a misery to myself.”
See their short film @Gaynor&Christy here.
Visit Hapipod.com to find out more. It is FREE to register, set up a profile and see who’s available. Members only need pay the one-off ID check fee and a fee to connect if and when they see someone of interest. Members must be over 18.
Andrea Frankenthal is the Founder of Hapipod.
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