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Would you like to live with EAs? Want to connect with EAs when you travel? If someone “granted” you free rent, freeing up your time, what EA project could you complete?

Airbnb changed the world by making productive use of people’s spare bedrooms and second homes. We at Nonlinear are trying a simple experiment to see if we can do something similar in EA - connecting EAs who have extra space with EAs who need space.

Picture an EA who works a regular job to earn money to pay rent. You might not have enough money to provide them a $50,000 grant, but you might be able to provide your spare room, which frees up the EA to work on something high impact. You’re like an angel investor, but for “impact housing”.

We made a spreadsheet where you can either seek roommates, find EA couchsurfing opportunities, or become a host, providing space for EAs. Patrons can offer accommodations either for free, at a reduced rental fee, or against some service (such as pet sitting).

Some benefits:

  1. Enable positive impact that would otherwise not happen
  2. Support a better use of otherwise vacant or under-utilized housing
  3. Fostering cultural, social, and intellectual exchange between groups of people
  4. Provide actually affordable housing to people all across the world

Examples of housing that might be available

  • A room that just became available in your friends' flat and they would love to have EAs around
  • You or your parents have a second home which sits empty much of the year
  • A city apartment or studio that stays vacant for a few weeks/months a year and needs regular check-ups
  • Your parents look for help with garden work and walking their dog in exchange for a room
  • You're wanting to rent a house with a bunch of EAs and you want to find other like-minded people to join you.
  • Your parents are empty-nesters and would love to have something like an exchange student around, but with a higher impact.
  • A group of EAs in a city link up to rent a house together

Example use cases for guests

  1. Conducting an EA research project (e.g. if you received an LTFF grant or similar)
  2. Upskilling (e.g. learning technical ML skills)
  3. Engaging in local community building, particularly in areas where there is little EA presence (e.g. taking a leading role in forming a group)
  4. Launching a venture (e.g. startup, charity)
  5. Increased runway to give you the space you need to experiment or think about things
  6. Living with value-aligned people
  7. Opportunity to participate in or grow the local EA community

Benefits for hosts

  1. Create positive impact by enabling EAs to to work on projects they wouldn’t otherwise be able to
  2. Contribute growing the local EA community and be around more EAs
  3. Engage in stimulating conversations with EAs
  4. Find someone to take care of your pet, garden, or similar

Examples of houses available

Emerson Spartz's parents are Midwestern-wholesome empty nesters who would be thrilled to host a nice EA in one of their spare bedrooms. They live an hour from Chicago in a beautiful home surrounded by lush woodlands with a friendly dog and cat. His father, Tom, is a retired entrepreneur and mother, Maggi, runs a local nonprofit. This is a cozy retreat from the chaos of the world to work on something big.

Kat and Emerson’s Caribbean House

Emerson and I have a house on the beach in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA that we live in for half the year. While we're gone we want to fill it with EAs doing important work on longtermism. There’s room for ten people and you could potentially stay for one week to six months. Perfect for somebody who wants to be surrounded by an EA community and escape the winter months.

OK, how does it work exactly?

If you have space, list it on the spreadsheet. Potential applicants can reach out then you can select the people you think will do the most good with the space. We’re keeping the MVP simple for now.

If you’d like to help get more people using the platform, here’s an email/message template you can send to ask friends or family if they have any space they’d like to turn into impact.

If you’d like to receive updates about available EA housing, the EA Houses project in general, and other Nonlinear projects, subscribe to our newsletter.

Reminder that you can listen to this post on your podcast player once/if it reaches 25 upvotes using the Nonlinear Library.

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Are you curating the spreadsheet in any way? In particular, do you have a mechanism for removing entries submitted by people who have in the past made unwanted sexual advances or otherwise a track record of not respecting community members' boundaries?

Light touch curation, yes - we'd certainly appreciate a heads up on anything like this!

As an experiment I converted the google sheets into a Notion database and plugged a map into it if anyone's curious. (Keep in mind this isn't in sync with the gsheet anymore) Map view of Notion database:   https://app.notionmaps.com/map/ea-houses-l4re6115

Great thinking, @Alex Long. I think I would be much more likely (say, 5% -> 35%) to reference this Google Sheet if it was migrated to a Notion database (with mapping capabilities). Up to you, @Kat Woods.

You might also be able to convert the Google Sheet directly into a Google Map, but I suspect it'd be a bit more challenging to implement.

Does anyone have any data or anecdotal evidence on how often people have actually stayed in EA houses that sprung from this list?

Good question! Somebody wrote this post. And I've had a handful of people say they use it all the time. Mostly for EAGs or other conferences. 

Haven't heard of anybody using it for long stays yet, which was my original use case for it. 

It's a lovely idea! Do you have an idea of how to keep it up to date, so that old, no-longer-available rows don't detract from the active ones?

Good question! We're planning on pinging listings on the sheets roughly every four months to see if it's still up to date. We also have a column that says when the listing was last updated.

Anyone know how to add this to this list


Good idea! I messaged them

Hi, there may be a use case for people wanting a change of scenario for inspiration on a challenge or may want to hunker down to do some deep work.  In such cases, a month long stay may be needed to do some effective work.  Has it been considered to do housing swaps?

Looks like it has some overlap with the EA couchsurfing facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021488637885621, probably usefull to work together?

Agreed - we reached out to some people in the group to see if they wanted to add their listings to the sheet!

I like this because it is a low overhead way for high impact people to organise retreats, holidays etc. with aligned people and this is plausibly very valuable for some people. It will also nudge people to look after themselves and spend time in nice plaes which on the current margin is maybe a good thing, idk.

Fwiw I think that LTFF would fund all of the 'example use cases for guests' anyway for someone reasoably high impact/value aligned anway, so I think this is more about nudges than actually creating opportunities that don't already exist.

Not all EAs work on the long-term future

Sure, but it's pretty reasonable to think that Kat thinks that majority of value will come from helping longtermists given that that is literally that reason she set up nonlinear.

Also, EAIF will fund these things.

  1. I set up an Airtable for the EA Houses entries here, and also transferred over the existing content

  2. I set up this Zapier to automate 'add new entries' from the original Google Sheet.

However, I don't have a full Zapier account and not sure I want to cover the $20 per month this cost. Does anyone already have a Zapier account that could take this over?

Update: I think my free plan might suffice for this.

Looks like you’ve now moved into something airtable based. It’s looking good.

I suggest editing the original post to note the updated location?

Also, some issues with the new location, which is good but

  1. Some 'merging' of houses (when an individual like me put up 2 houses) seemed to have been done wrongly. E.g., info from my English house was merged into my American house, and the English house seems to have disappeared

  2. Obviously the map is a static image; I assume you plan to update with a link to a geocoded dynamic map thing?

  3. Maybe you should add/automate a 'country' field, as I did in my Airtable version

Good idea! Updated the links in the original post. 

Sorry about the merging mistake! It should be easy to edit entries now if you want.

Map is static for now. 

Automating country field is a cool idea. Will see if that's possible with the new setup. 

I suggest editing this post for the update?

Has anyone ever put these on a collaborative Google map? It might be a few hours work by hand and would be very useful I think.

Better still, some way of automating a google map based on this list, so it stays updated?

Thanks to this comment, I'm now working on setting this up!

Alex's is great, and I'm working with him to make it so it's automatically updating. Will also probably be switching to Notion which will allow for a lot more intuitive sorting and filtering. 

This is really great and coming along nicely!

Update: These suggestions below were already posted on the 'suggestions' tab of the Google Sheet. Sorry for the repetition.

Some suggestions:

  1. Someone should/we should find a way to integrate this with a Google map. Would be great to see.
  2. Maybe worth switching this over to an Airtable? To permit easier filtering and ... all the other great stuff Airtable allows.

I love this. It reminds me of stuff like MyPlace (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/15/travel/airbnb-alternatives-home-sharing.html) but simpler/cleaner as a sheet. 

It's 2024 now. Has there been any actual couchsurfing activity?

  1. has there been any couchsurfing activity?
  2. is the idea being further discussed in some other place?

It would be great if the OP could make a post-mortem (doubly appropriate if the idea is actually dead).

Please drop me a line via WhatsApp, Telegram, VK or social networks in the profile if you would like to exchange thoughts in more like real time about couchsurfing.

There's been couch surfing activity. Don't know how much, but I've heard from a few people that they've used it a lot.

Since there are virtually no ongoing costs for this to stay up, I don't think it's worth setting up M&E

I would like to suggest (I'll put it in the suggestions on the spreadsheet as well) .

a. Use trustroots.org they could add a "circle" for you and you could point there? b. Use the Trustroots software, you (or I got you) could ask openhospitality.network to host it for you 🙃

Great idea! Are you thinking of using some sort of expectation docs or simple MOU?

We're trying to keep it super informal for now :)

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