Shared assets: Do you need to own the things you use?

A generation or so ago, there was a widespread expectation that when we grew up, we’d get a stable job, get married, buy a house together, and live in the suburbs with a car or two to get us around. While we are certainly doing things quite differently these days, many of us still live with those expectation looming over us.

Now, our relationship and career options are all quite flexible; yet, many of us still want to own our own home and car and we are prepared to borrow large sums of money to do so. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, but more of us are starting to question this pathway to see if it still works for us.

Job opportunities can pop up in different locations and we can work from almost anywhere via our mobile devices, so not being tied to a mortgage means we can move homes more easily than we used to. In fact, more of us are deciding that we don’t need to own a home at all. Some like the idea of sharing a house or a co-living space. Others happily go from one Airbnb or housesitting arrangement to another. It’s not that different to holiday time-share arrangements or renting a room from someone. The main thing that’s changed is the sheer scale of this ecosystem and the speed of the technology that has enabled it all.

We’re getting used to the idea of Uber, too. We may still use taxis and public transport, but Uber gives us another option that’s often cheaper and more convenient. The shared economy now covers many other assets and services including co-working spaces, peer-to-peer loans, and car-sharing, to name a few.

When people have an asset like a car or spare office space that they are not using much, it makes sense to rent it out to maximise its use. In his article 2 in 3 Aussies use shared economy (Uber, eBay, Airbnb, and more), for Canstar, Sam Bloom referred to the 2017 RateSetter report, the Sharing Economy Trust Index (SETI). The report stated that more than 68% of Australians now use the sharing economy to spend and earn money. I guess that means we are getting the hang of it.

Of course, there will always be teething problems while we develop new ways of doing things, and there is the obvious issue of regulations struggling to catch up, but there are very positive reasons to share more of our assets, too. These include:

– A greater sense of community, especially for those who chose to live in shared spaces.
– Better use of resources with little or no wastage.
– Increased earning potential. Hiring out your assets, skills, and services can be an extra source of income or a whole new way of life – even more so for those who find it difficult to work in a ‘normal’ job.
– An increased opportunity to enjoy assets you might not otherwise have access to. You can share luxury items like yachts and even private jets that you could never afford on your own.

As more people move into high-density housing, more communal facilities and services, such as parks and gyms, are springing up to cater for them. Many have had to reluctantly give up the idea of owning a pet, though. While the Cat Café Melbourne was set up specifically as a permanent home for rescue cats, they also meet the very human need of providing a safe space where anyone over 8 years old can come and enjoy a cuddle session with the cats for the sheer joy of it. No doubt, we’ll see more and more innovative concepts like this emerge to bring people together in new forms of communities and neighbourhoods.

Justin Passaportis, General Manager (Victoria and South Australia) at GoGet Car Share, and Danielle Sampson, Director of Partnerships and Experiences at Base Commons Co-living, participated in a fascinating panel discussion about Access over Ownership as part of Florence Guild’s speaker series, The Antidisciplinary Future’. This series narrative explores how we can look outside traditional disciplines to find better ways to live and work now and in the future.

Passaportis and Sampson are both actively exploring the potential of the sharing economy through their respective organisations. To hear a recording of their discussion and to learn more about how the sharing and ‘traditional’ economies can co-exist, be sure to tune in to episode 15 of the podcast series. You can also keep up to date with conversations with other thought leaders by subscribing to our podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.