Seven years ago, it occurred to me that paying rent was a real drag.
I was putting together the original business plan for Cycle Toronto, and I realised that we’d need to have a full-time staff person for about nine months, being paid roughly $0 per week. As long as I needed to pay rent, we couldn’t start the new bike group.
So I came up with a fun idea called “The Professional Guest”. I sent the following letter to all my friends:
November 27 2006
I’m moving out of my house and I’d like to move into yours. Don’t be alarmed. My plan is not to be a moocher nor a ‘Couch Surfer’. As of New Years, I will begin my new career as a Professional Guest.
I’ll be serving two-week shifts. In return for a couch and a pillow, I offer you my services. You may choose from the following: general cleaning, cooking, interior or exterior painting, proof reading, babysitting, guitar lessons, website design, dog-walking, dishes, electrical wiring, carpentry, plumbing, sock darning, photo portraits, baking, snow shoveling, graphic design, piano lessons, computer tutoring, window cleaning or career counseling.
To register for a two-week shift in 2007 please let me know where you live, type of couch and what you need done.
[house-sitting & pet-sitting also available]
Hope to see you soon.
The response was fantastic. Within days I had 112 requests. Over the next 60 weeks I lived in 32 homes with 31 adults, 16 children, 18 cats, 4 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 birds, 2 gerbils and 2 ferrets.
After a while, I missed the sensation of having my own home, and I moved into a house in Kensington Market. But my Professional Guest experiment was one of the best years of my life. If you’re single, childless and have few possessions, I encourage you to try this.
Here’s some photos and a short video, documenting the journey: