|Finding a share house
There are a couple of ways to find a share house. The best way I think, is that if youre lucky enough to have a friend who is doing one and they personally invite you to their house as a share or a guest one summer, then you can see if it's for you. That's how a lot of houses get filled, through word of mouth. The other way is through listings. The best listings are in the Village Voice. It comes out weekly on Wednesdays and people start listing their houses towards the end of January through February until the summer begins. Then there is New York Magazine that has a few listings. But best of all, there's my site that will be established when things get going. The wise person should check all avenues. When I start renting my share house, which you can see it under Amagansett on the site, I use the Village Voice. Then Last but not least are other houses listed on the Internet, usually single houses listed by the owners, but thats a hit-or-miss.
Picking a house
This I feel is the most important step which can determine whether you have a great Summer, an ok Summer or a bad Summer (of course all of these variables can change during the season but you want to start on a good note). If people are reputable they will want to meet with you and other prospective house members, to see how well you all get along. Some house managers set up several nights at different bars after work where you mingle with each other and see photos of your prospective summer retreat. The best houses that I have been in have a good mixture of men and women (believe it or not a lopsided group, too many women or men, creates problems).
The earlier you start looking for a house, then the more variety you will have; don't wait till May as houses start filling up fairly quickly especially if they are desirable and not too expensive. Also don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions hey, its your money. Ask if they have weekly maid service, lawn maintenance or pool care. Very importantly ask what the rules of the house are; nothing is worse that going into a really strict house and not being able to sneeze, believe me they are out there. My house is so relaxed that people have tried to switch to it from beautiful mansions that have tons of rules.
Ok, so now you have found the house of your dreams, at the price you can or can't afford. The next step is to get a room. In most affordable share houses you have to share a room (they don't call it a share house for nothing), usually two to a room, but sometimes three. At first this might seem uncomfortable but not to worry, you will be spending most of your time outside (I hope, unless youre Kim Basinger). Try and connect with somebody soon or share a room with a good friend if you can.
After you have your room, you have to schedule your weekends. Very important when youre searching for a house, ask if you can come out during the week, most house allow you a week that you can stay there for free. Also ask what their guest policies are and if there is a guest-fee. Usually there is some type of charge for guests, the money should go back into the house for parties and maintenance. Also see if there are food bills or does everyone fend for them self (like wolves)? Most houses require at least half of the payment up front to secure your space (good business).
Deciding the length of your stay
Shares are broken up into quarter shares, half shares and full shares. A quarter share is usually 4 weekends, half share 8 weekends and full share every weekend. I feel the half share is the best deal since the quarter is too short and the full can be hell (too much traveling).
There are usually A & B weekend schedules, meaning you go every other weekend, youre either on the A schedule the first weekend or the B schedule starting the second weekend. Make sure when you pick a schedule that it includes long weekends (major holidays) and if it doesn't, then work it out that you get at least one.
If you figure out the cost ratio, doing a share is the most economical way to get away during the Summer and you don't have to worry about booking hotel and motel rooms that can cost up to $200-300 a night during peak season and are usually filled up way in advance anyway. I've been doing shares for a while and I think that if you've never done one, you should give it a try. Id rather be in a place like Fire Island or the Hamptons every other weekend than waiting for the number 4 train; hot, tired and annoyed. I hope after reading this you will at least consider taking a share and having the fun Summer that you deserve! Hey, you only live once!
If you have any other insightful information on getting a share house or fun things to do, or a weekend from hell, please email me and I will gladly post it at: email@example.com