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Strange Bedfellows Make Great Roommates

Living with four generations of strangers.

 

This is part of "Live Large, Spend Less," a comprehensive guide to surviving (and even flourishing) in America's most expensive city. See all of the stories here. 

I don’t know how other struggling, 31-year-old writers make ends meet in San Francisco, but i do it by renting a small room for $450 a month in a century-old house in Glen Park populated by two to four other people from the ages of 19 to “sixtysomething, I don’t remember.”

The greatest advantage of having three or four generations under one roof? Wildly different schedules—we never see each other! the house’s oldest resident, a former child actor (she was in Around the World in 80 Days) and an ex-roommate of Allen Ginsberg, is in bed every night by 8 p.m. and up with the morning sun (she chants at her shrine in the mornings, but you learn to sleep through it). Another roommate, a nice, reserved 50ish Japanese immigrant, cooks dinner at 10 p.m. and showers at 1 a.m. Our resident handyman is a 40ish white guy who lives on the ground floor and is as scarce as bigfoot—the only time I ever see him is when I have to go down to flip the circuit breakers.

It’s a delicate balance of ages, cultures, and backgrounds, and admittedly a pretty weird setup. But everyone is united by one thing: we all really, really want to keep living in San Francisco

 

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco 

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