The original and probably most widely encountered form of "shared housing" is probably the generic roommate situation, in which two or more people share some kind of shelter. This is such a widespread arrangement that it in turn breaks down into a number of subcategories. I will just list some of these here rather than make this document ridiculously long, although I may choose to do a more formal categorization of these subcategories later on.
Some of the ways in which one can have a roommate or roommates would include: being a student, probably a full-time student at many universities. Much of the time, these are assigned rather than chosen, although in most cases it is possible to request a choice or even a new roommate if the initial choice or selection doesn't work out.
Probably the largest category of all would be the roommate situation in just about any city in the world, frequently in a rental of some sort. It is almost a cliché that someone takes off for the big city, finds a place to live, and proceeds to look for a roommate to share expenses. In the old days this would probably have included running a small ad in one of the local newspapers; today of course we have craigslist. Many people also are able to find a roommate by asking around at work or perhaps posting some kind of a notice there (and many work environments now offer electronic version of the posting as well).
And there are a number of private agencies, large and small, that will match up roommates for some kind of a fee. In recent years many if not most of these have migrated to online versions, in many cases using social media as a way to validate identity and begin checking references.
How The Roommate Coach can help:
My core message to roommates, which applies to some extent to anyone living in shared housing-meaning anyone living with someone else-is very straightforward: most of the problems and conflicts are unnecessary and avoidable, and it's really important to learn how to deal with conflicts so that you don't wind up making them worse. I don't believe that fighting and arguing and generally giving each other a bad time is our natural state. In fact, I am convinced that much of the time problems that arise between roommates have more to do with events in the distant past than anything going on in the present, at least until someone makes matters worse with a misguided attempt at fixing things.
But an equally important part of my message is that these conflicts and issues, even if they may seem trivial, are in fact quite important. Mainly they are important because roommates are important: living with someone is a great opportunity to form the kinds of really important bonds and connections that can be useful throughout one's life. But it's also really important to learn how to not only get fair treatment from others but how to become really strict with yourself about giving the same to them.
All of this can become second nature, which is kind of my goal as The Roommate Coach-to show people how to get this kind of attitude to become instinctive. Ultimately, it's relatively simple: in order to have a great roommate, you need to be a great roommate.