Live more cheaply by sharing, co-living and swapping

Who doesn’t want to live better, and spend less? Sharing, swapping, co-living and buying second-hand are all part of a movement towards cheaper, more communal, more environmentally friendly living. We explored this trend and went in search of the best ideas, tips and tricks to get you inspired.


We’ve been sharing transport costs using lift clubs for many years. But have you ever thought about sharing other resources and skills to save money?

What can you share?

  • Household and garden items you don’t use everyday, such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, power tools and extension step ladders
  • Groceries, food and cleaning products – buy in bulk at markets or cheap wholesalers, and divide among friends
  • Online shopping – order together to save on delivery costs and take advantage of specials
  • Tutoring and babysitting services
  • Personal trainers and private yoga or pilates teachers
  • Books – as an added bonus book clubs often receive discounts at bookstores
  • Transport costs, including lift clubs, car-pooling and Uber rides
  • Storage units
  • Trailers, caravans and camping gear, and even holiday cottages

Can you save money?
Yes. The savings on shared transport can be big. We found a lift club running from Pretoria to Sandton where lift club members can save over R2 500 a month in petrol costs – that’s over R25 000 a year!

Even smaller savings add up over a year. For example, sharing an at-home personal trainer with two friends rather than training on your own with a personal trainer saves R130 a session – that’s over R5 000 in a year.

Co-living or sharing a workspace

Increasingly, people are looking at the option of living more communally and saving money on rent and other costs.

  • Buy or rent a home together, or move in with a friend, family member, or group of like-minded people, and share the rent, utilities and rates, and cleaning and maintenance costs
  • Rent a unit in a co-living community, where you have your own bedroom, often a bathroom, and sometimes a small kitchen, and share other living spaces like a communal kitchen (or a canteen) and laundry. We found units in Johannesburg and Pretoria from R2 050 for the smallest units
  • Rent out a garden cottage or spare room in your home to save on costs and earn extra money
  • Share a home office with a neighbour or colleague so you both save on rental, and perhaps expenses such as a printer or fibre. You can also investigate co-working spaces like theworkspace and coworker

Can you save money?
Yes. For example, renting a small unit in a co-living property in Johannesburg can cost R2 500 a month, compared to renting a studio apartment for R5 640 a month. You will also save on services like WiFi and security.

Top tip
Even if you’re living with a friend or relative, it’s a good idea to draw up a contract detailing what costs you share, when they need to be paid and what happens if one of you decides to move out.


You can get real value and have fun swapping your skills, as well as all sorts of items you no longer need.

What can you swap?

  • You might cut a friend’s hair in exchange for a home cooked meal, or design a friend’s website and they complete your tax return
  • Children’s toys. Even the most favoured games, toys and books get boring after a while. Swap with neighbours and friends, even for just a few weeks, for more variety at no extra cost
  • Swap special occasion items that you only wear once, or clothes that no longer fit you or your lifestyle
  • You might swap your home in Joburg for a beachfront apartment in Durban for a few weeks!

Top tip
When it’s safe to do so, invite friends to each bring clothing and accessories they no longer wear, and have a fun afternoon trying on and swapping. You can update your wardrobe for free!


There are great savings to be made in buying second-hand clothes, appliances, sports equipment and technology. You can buy and sell second-hand goods on sites like Gumtree, olx and Junkmail, as well as Facebook and WhatsApp groups and stores like Cash Crusaders and Cash Converters. Thrift shops and charity shops are good sources of clothing – if you’re lucky, you sometimes find super stylish lightly worn designer goods at a fraction of what you would pay for the item new. And don’t forget second-hand school uniform shops.

Can you save money?
Yes. But do research the price of a similar item new, or second-hand in the same condition, so you don’t overpay

Top tip
Don’t part with any money until you have the item in your hands and are satisfied with it. If the seller insists on payment upfront, use Tradesafe services or an escrow account such as Standard Bank’s Escrow Account. Using these services, you pay for the item but only authorise release of the funds when have it

Live better for less

Sharing, co-living, swapping and buying second-hand saves money, creates a sense of community and supports a more sustainable lifestyle. When you share an item or give it a second life, there is less waste in our rivers and oceans, which means less pollution and a happier planet. Give it a go!

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