The Professional Guest


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


dear friends!

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.

~ mez

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:











3 responses to “The Professional Guest

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  2. I could actually see myself doing this. Not for more than a year or two but money’s kinda tight and it seems like a cool idea. But do you think it would be less safe for a woman to do this? How do you stay safe trusting people to put you up for the week, moving your stuff around all the time?

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