First off, the house we live in in general is just a sweet house. The very first basement we ever lived in was about 300 sq ft big. You could sit on the pot while cooking your dinner and making the bed. Seriously. Now this, this is a nice basement. Square footage-wise, it is bigger than our Texas house. The kitchen is one of the biggest, nicest ones I've ever had the priviledge to cook in. Cupboard space galore. Nice carpet, and so on. And because technically we are living in a mansion (they had it listed for sale when we moved in and were asking over $450,000 - pretty sure), we live in a nice, established neighborhood. And all of these, including all of the utilities (internet and cable!) for a hundred dollars less than our mortgage alone was in Texas.
Now aside from the actual house we are living in, the actual sharing of the house is a huge perk of living here and one that I didn't even think that much about when we signed on.
First, a little disclaimer, I am not entirely sure our upstairs neighbors are as delighted with the situation as we are. I mean, we have to tromp through their house every time we park in the garage, we are definitely on the receiving end of this little relationship.
For ease in communication I will call our upstairs neighbor "Kristi". It's convenient because that is my name, but as luck would have it, it's hers too. (now that has never caused any embarrassing situations, like for example if Kristi's husband, Matt, came home from the store and said, "Hey Kristi, I got you some Dr. Pepper!" it's not like I would leap to my feet and thank him profusely for it before realizing that I was not the Kristi for whom he had purchased Dr. Pepper or anything, because that would be embarrassing.). But, personally, I think it's a pretty sweet situation for all involved.
For starters Gwen and the little girl upstairs, Maleah (I've only called her Meleah about ten billion times), are best buds forever. They would play from dawn to dusk if given the chance, and many times they are given that chance. It's insanely convenient to have a best friend upstairs to play with. They run up and downstairs all day long. Kristi and I co-watch them. It's freaking awesome. It's sad times at our house when Maleah is gone for the day.
And sometimes if I need to run to the store Gwen stays here and plays, and that makes my life about a thousand times easier.
Secondly....hello, best friends for us right upstairs too. Last night I was upstairs playing Mario Wii until unearthly hours with good friends without either of us ever having to leave the comfort of our own home. It solves the age old problem of adults wanting to stay up late hanging out but having kids that need to get to bed. Every Thursday night we eat dinner with our friends upstairs and watch The Office and 30 Rock, all the while with our babies snoozing and our big girls playing princess. Sometimes we play Settlers of Catan till unearthly hours too. Did I mention they have like a 500 inch tv? Seriously.
Thirdly, between Kristi's house and mine we have three ovens. Three. This has cut my bread making time down by a third. Likewise, two fridges....sometimes she's out of eggs, sometimes I am, but there's never been a time that we both are.
Third and a halfly- when Blaine was gone for the night there was no need to fear, plenty of people upstairs to hear me scream if bad guys came. Not to mention the two man-eating dogs they keep upstairs (I used to say that jokingly about our dogs, these dogs are seriously gigantorian)
Fourthly, they go to Costco at least once a day, sometimes like four times (; ) ). How nice is that that if I need milk or something there is a guaranteed Costco run?
Fifthly they have extra room in their deep freeze, and they let us use it.
Sixthly, their vacuum works and ours doesn't, so they let us use it.
Accidentally go somewhere and leave a candle burning? One phone call and the flame is extinguished. Forget to Tivo your favorite show? Never fear! Need to run up the street real fast and don't want to pack up your gaggle of children to go with you? No problem! Run out of diapers? Presto!
Not to mention the regular benefits of renting in general: dishwasher break? Who cares! Lawn need to be mowed? Not my problem! Sudden move across the country? See you later!
And so on and so forth. Communal living is very, very awesome.
So I think when Blaine and I buy a house again (which I don't think we will ever, buying a house was probably the worst financial decision we ever made!), we will buy an extra huge nice house with a very large basement apartment, because having lived this lifestyle, I can't see myself going back.
I don't think it would work with any two random people. If it were family it might feel too intrusive, if it was a friend you already were tight with it might be weird. We came in to this not knowing our upstairs neighbors at all. They have their lives, we have ours, but we share a house, and it rocks.
Now...what to do about these pesky rodents....and that pesky commute!