Managing expectations is crucial to the success of shared living arrangements, suggests recent research into what life is like for those who share a house with people who are not family members.

Most who share housing with non-kin in the UK do so in shared rentals and private lodging arrangements, usually as young adults, but increasingly at other points in the lifecourse too. "These arrangements have become more commonplace in recent years, not primarily through choice, but largely in response to rising housing costs and the impact of recession," says Professor Sue Heath.

Researchers find, however, that both 'intentional' and 'unintentional' sharers face very similar challenges regardless of context. "We found that the high expectations and deep personal investments often linked to intentional sharing could exacerbate the more challenging aspects of sharing, and heighten a sense of disappointment if expectations were thwarted," says Professor Heath. "But sharers with low expectations often found their hopes exceeded."

As shared living is clearly on the increase, greater awareness of the factors which enable shared housing to work and how this should be achieved is increasingly important, researchers conclude.