This thread is for the discussion of options for people interested in changing their living environments some time in the next year or so. It's a place to:

  • Share your situation to get an outside view
  • Get on the radar of potential roommates
  • Discuss existing communities or places that may be a good fit
  • Describe what you're looking for in a living environment
  • Post your procedure for deciding where to live
  • Coordinate with others to find compatible roommates
  • Discuss which factors are relevant to deciding where to live
  • Post resources or data relevant to deciding where to live

Whether you're graduating from college, moving for a new job, or looking to further optimize your living environment for other reasons, talking with others can help you identify options, catch inaccurate beliefs or poor reasoning, meet potential roommates, and more. Thanks to everyone who contributes!

(This thread has been on my mind for a while. Reading this recent roommate-seeking post inspired me actually write and post it. I'll post my own situation in the comments below.)

To discuss the concept of this thread (rather than participating in the thread's intended discussion), please reply to this comment. Credit goes to the open transactions thread and group rationality diary for some of the style and wording of this post.

47 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 7:48 AM
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[-][anonymous]9y 18

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Well, if you make it out to Berkeley, you're welcome to be the drummer in my hypothetical rationalist rock band. I've been procrastinating about putting it together for a long time, but we have enough talented instrumentalists and vocalists together to make a great band.

(I play drums too, but realistically actually prefer playing percussion to drum sets, and I always like rock bands with drums + aux percussion...)

my hypothetical rationalist rock band

Who else would be in it?

[-][anonymous]9y 1

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Well, we (where we means I) don't really have any music written and lots of counterfactual disputes about whether we want to optimize for popular appeal or not. The kind of music that I would actually want to write if I was capable of writing it myself, is somewhere between Alcest and Zomby. I'm sure by virtue of collaboration it will end up sounding nothing like that.

[-][anonymous]9y 1

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Alcest reminds me of Leaves' Eyes.

Try planning tomorrow out in advance every evening, and iteratively discover what works?

All my motivational breakthroughs came when I stopped trying to figure out what I "really wanted to do", ala Paul Graham's How to Do What You Love, and started setting and accomplishing goals because I wanted to goals accomplished for their own sake (as opposed to because I thought the act of working towards the goals themselves would be intrinsically fulfilling).

Keep in mind that people are strongly affected by the people they hang out with.

[-][anonymous]9y 2

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I did this because I wanted to build internal motivation.

I didn't understand this bit. What do you mean?

[-][anonymous]9y 7

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Well, I can empathise. I spent 1993 sitting on my extremely nice front porch drinking coffee, smoking Lucky Strikes and reading all the newspapers with my burnt-out ex-Communist housemate, and achieving 0. It was the right thing at the right time. I think.

[-][anonymous]9y 5

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26, had suffered recent horrible experience of working an actual day job, burnt out from doing an indie rock fanzine for several years. We didn't have Internet then so I had to actually go see my friends or them come visit me. I got a job at the end of that year and then moved from Perth (which is like said porch the size of a city) to Melbourne.

Dude, you know what? That used to work for me! Back when ... it worked for me. I don't think all akrasias are made of the same stuff because that definitely works for some types of them. I just think you don't know in advance which one and you only realize it's not working after a wasted few months.

after many years of activities that were forced, nothing is all you want to do

Cool, now I have something to blame my post-PhD akrasia on.

Thanks for sharing. What's your plan? How much of your time do you think it would be optimal to spend assessing your options with regard to where to live?

I love the idea of living with "agent-y" rationalists, but I definitely don't love the idea of slowly discovering that I'm intractably not motivated or smart enough to truly "hang."

My impression is that the majority of aspiring rationalists are willing to work with each other through our flaws, rather than expecting perfection. I suspect the smartest, most popular people in the rationality community take up a disproportionate amount of our attention, which can make inadequacy feel more plausible than it really is. If we try, I don't think we'll have trouble finding awesome living environments.

[-][anonymous]9y 6

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So I’m looking at monthly living expenses of $1200 in NYC, $1250 in Berkeley, and $1100 in Northampton. Which means I realistically only accrue savings if I live in Northampton or get a different job or more students.

My experience with budgeting my life suggests that your margin of calculational error will swamp the given differences.

[-][anonymous]9y 2

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I enjoyed reading your analysis. If there's anything in particular you want input on, I'd be happy to share my perspective.

[-][anonymous]9y 0

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[-][anonymous]9y -1

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My curiosity requests an update on outcome/progression of your considerations in this comment and its children. :)

[-][anonymous]8y 0

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I attended the Center for Applied Rationality's June rationality camp in Berkeley, and would very much like to have a full-time living environment similar to the environment at camp. I'm very interested in joining or working to create a living environment that values open communication and epistemic hygiene, facilitates house-wide life-hacking experimentation, provides a collaborative, fulfilling environment to live and work in, and those sorts of things.

I'll finish my computer science degree in May, and I plan to make changes to my living situation at that time. I plan to apply a portion of my time over the next ten months to identifying and assessing potential living environments, and I am interested in collaborating with others throughout the process. Contact me if you think collaboration could be mutually beneficial (I would rather you err on the side of contacting me.)

I started a software development company last summer under which I have been developing a web application that assesses tasks' utility in order to suggest high-utility tasks to users. I have not publicly released the application, but I use it daily to manage my own tasks. Contingent on my startup remaining a high-utility prospect in my mind, I'd like to work on it full-time after I graduate. I am very interested in live-work arrangements (e.g. working and living on the same premises), or in living close to a coworking space or an affordable office space.

My finances are limited right now. That would change if I got a full-time software engineering job once I graduate, but I'd rather work for my startup and finance things through part-time or contract work if necessary (if you're interested in hiring me, please contact me.) I'm especially interested in collaborating with other programmers, working in Python or Go, working on data visualizations in D3, programming rationality exercises, or working on something that qualifies as "data science".

I live in Kansas, and it's alright here. I preferred the weather in Berkeley when I visited there last month. I think I would enjoy living in the San Francisco bay area, but the cost of living is high there. I'm interested in identifying affordable places to live that are competitive with the amenities of the bay area. I'm also very interested in meeting and networking with potential roommates.

In terms of resources, I have found Sperling's BestPlaces to have a lot of good information about U.S. cities.

I share your interest in a rationality and life-hacking house. I'd like to coordinate with you on that, if only to help see that it happens. I wonder how it might intersect with my friend's interest in creating a neighborhood of "Tiny Houses"--affordable and economic housing, that definitely forces you to be aware of all your stuffs' utility.

Also think programming of rationality exercises is a good idea. I've been ruminating on the idea of starting a less intensive but more long-term version of minicamp in my area, that I've in good humor dubbed "Nanocamp". Online practice exercises is one way to keep lessons consistent and progress trackable.

Taboo "coordinate".

What do you think are the best places to live?

Coordinate: Bounce ideas off each other through skype/email, draft roommate agreements, partially finance if I can, move in myself, plan and lead house projects, etc.

Like minicamp is still very different from minicamp when you're talking about going from four days together to all-year-round. Is this targeted towards young graduate-age? It's going to be a very different kettle of fish depending on whether college is involved, or kids.

The actual place seems less important to me than that I actually like and trust the people next to me. That's probably why I like the idea of the mini-camp house so much; I implicitly trusted everyone at mini-camp. This was partially because I pegged the group as coming from a demographic that was unlikely to screw people over a priori, partially because I trusted that most people there would have good reason and an admirable plan before trying something, and partially because I'd gotten all sentimental and couldn't help but identify the group as my tribe. But there wasn't enough time or pressure there to be proven right or wrong. We'd have to work hard and intentionally to keep an enriching, collaborative environment like that going long-term. The exact kind of intentionality I haven't seen put into keeping in touch after minicamp, by myself or anyone else. (That's harder to admit than I thought it would be, that I've been failing miserably in my plans to keep these connections open and that it counts as evidence against the feasibility of creating my own long-term community.)

As far as places go, my mind keeps being drawn back to my friend's efforts to create a tiny house neighborhood. It's highly available to me, and the criteria just seem to overlap so well. Affordable, good amenities, close to working places, intentional community... I'll get back to you about actual places once I finish my own research.

Thanks for this detailed post!

I have assumed a certain level of compromise when considering living situations. For example, I have assumed that people would not be willing to move a specific city for the primary purpose of joining an awesome living environment, but would instead be willing only to optimize within preexisting geographical constraints.

If there were enough people willing to relocate somewhere for the primary purpose of establishing an awesome living environment, that opens up a new class of opportunities more appealing than the ones I've been considering. For example, if there were several people interested in working for their own startups, maybe they could lease a building together, or utilize collective purchasing to lower the costs of bookkeeping or legal services. (Is anyone interested in doing that?)

I think such an intentional living community would be significantly more difficult to create than finding a few compatible roommates in a particular city, but I'm willing to look into it further.

Kansas is not as much as a disadvantage as it used to be, with Google Fiber at $70/month.

What are you trying to optimize for?

I feel like the first paragraph of my original explanation of my situation addressed this, so maybe I don't understand what you're asking. Can you either rephrase your question or give an example of the kind of response you're looking for?

Madison Wisconsin!

I am currently looking for an apartment in Montreal, and would love to live with lesswrongers/rationalists.

I have the impression that there are relatively few candidates in the city, but I'm happy to get into more detail about my characteristics/situation should one (or more) possible housemates exist!

I also have the impression that there are very few rationalists or LWers nearby. I've got a few hypotheses as to why that could be, but they don't really supply me with useful methods of doing anything about it in the short term with my limited resources.

Anyone want to live in a historic mansion in the sunny part of San Francisco? http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/3160458077.html

Are you looking to move in there?

I am, but it'll be impossible for me to pull off the logistics to do it unless a few wealthy people step up with the liquid money for security deposit.

Looking for a temporary place in Cambridge starting in September. PM me!

I'm moving to Seattle in September. If you're looking to move in that area, send me a PM or comment.

I live in the Bay Area, and am looking for a room.

I would like to improve my psychological environment.

Discuss the concept of this thread here. For example, how could it be more useful? What would you do differently?

I'm not sure it will be very useful without a sticky feature, which we really need for a number of threads. We have all sorts of threads like this that could be stickied and be very helpful, but I'm afraid that at some point, this will drift off the front page and never be seen again.

How's this for a solution for "sticky threads":

  • Link to them somewhere prominent in the wiki, like the FAQ.
  • Whenever you post in a sticky thread, you're also supposed to post in the most recent open thread with a link to your post in the sticky thread. This acts as an advertisement for your post while also keeping all the sticky thread posts on a single webpage for easy viewing.

This already exists. The last time it was updated though was in May, by me, and the last time before that was... well. I guess you already knew about this. That was your edit...

The problem, I think, is that it takes too long to edit the wiki, so no one really wants to, and I don't feel particularly motivated to edit it when no one else is keeping up with the threads they're posting.

For reference, issue 283 covers the sticky feature. It doesn't seem like much has happened, but matt's suggestions seem workable (and even almost optimal).