Hot bedding: Aussie who shares her bed with ex-partner - for a price - calls it flatsharing 'of the future'

Many of us have shared a home with several people before - but would you go so far as to share a bed with a stranger? 

Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, some individuals are going to great lengths to pinch pennies: including taking a traditional flatting arrangement and applying it to their bedroom. 

Speaking to 7News, Gold Coast local Monique Jeremiah branded the unconventional approach to renting - colloquially known as 'hot bedding' - as "the future" of flatsharing.

In a nutshell, hot bedding involves sharing a bed with a stranger - sometimes together, or sometimes in shifts - in order to split the cost of the accommodation. A distant relative of hot desking, or sharing a desk in an office space, hot bedding can half a mortgage repayment, or reduce the rent of a multiple-room property even further than a traditional flatshare would.

According to 7News, the practice rose in popularity in Australia during the series of lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when isolation and loneliness - as well as financial stress - were rife. According to a survey by the University of Technology Sydney, thousands of their international students still rely on hot bedding as a way to cut costs. 

In 2020, Jeremiah began hot bedding with her ex-boyfriend in order to make her mortgage repayments more manageable during the pandemic. Then unemployed, the 36-year-old said COVID-19 crushed her teaching career and caused the collapse of her business, a travel and education agency. 

A self-described "social butterfly", Jeremiah was also concerned that living alone during the on-and-off lockdowns would take a toll on her mental health.

Knowing her former partner - who worked in a FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) role - was looking for a place to stay in the Gold Coast at the time, she reached out and suggested he move into her luxury one-bedroom apartment, a proposal he accepted.

As her ex was splitting his time between the Gold Coast and his home in Melbourne, the two agreed that if he was in Queensland for work or when a lockdown was enacted, he would pay Jeremiah AU$170 a week to share her apartment - and her bed.

The pair had dated for more than seven years but had remained good friends following their breakup, she told 7News, adding: "There was no longer any sexual relationship between us."

"I just knew if I was going to be stuck on my own for months I just... I couldn't do that," she said.

"I just said to him, 'If you don't want to be alone during COVID, do you want to come rent with me?' He jumped at the opportunity to have company."

Of course, this meant she and her ex were sharing a bed, as well as a home: but according to Jeremiah, neither of them were interested in sex or rekindling their relationship - calling the arrangement a "business transaction". 

To ensure the arrangement went smoothly, Jeremiah said she set a few ground rules such as making the bed, keeping the place tidy, and that their relationship remained platonic for the duration of the agreement. 

"It was great. He helped me pay my mortgage and, for him, he had a home away from home... [without having] to commit to a mortgage or a rental," she said.

The two also made sure they were respectful of each other's schedules: Jeremiah, an early riser, would be careful not to wake her roomie as he slept, while he would turn in early with her to ensure he didn't disturb her later in the night. 

"We would go to bed together at 10 or 11pm. He would pop on his headphones and watch a movie. And it went both ways," she told 7News.

The pair shared a bed on and off for two years without an issue, Jeremiah said, and the 36-year-old is eager to explore the arrangement again - so long as her prospective bedmate is "respectful", "has good values", and "only wants a platonic relationship". 

Monique Jeremiah
Monique Jeremiah says she rented her bed to her ex on-and-off for two years. Photo credit: @monique_jeremiah_model / Instagram

Hot bedding is said to be gaining popularity amid sky-high costs and inflation post-pandemic. One international college student in Melbourne, a 19-year-old woman from India, told SBS News she splits US$550 to rent a room with a man who works night shifts as a truck driver. 

As per Business Insider, the woman said she sleeps in the bed at night while the truck driver sleeps in the bed during the day. On days when he isn't working, she instead camps out on a mattress in the property's "storeroom".