The popular image, if any, related to lodging in industrial and urban society is one of young male lodgers and female landladies. The aim of this article is to discuss the identity of lodgers and landlords/ladies in gender, age and social perspective. Can we find evidence for proximity in origin, gender and social class between those who looked for and those who provided lodgings? While the middle classes saw lodging as a social evil, were their fears of moral and hygienic degradation realistic? Was keeping lodgers a way of fleecing vulnerable migrants and forcing them into a life of squalor? Or is it possible that the people who acquired an extra room, for a bit of income, or squeezed in an extra bed, were at the mercy of builders and slum landlords with multiple houses? We should perhaps remind ourselves that the ultimate power of control of building quality and flat size lay in the hands of the social class that was pointing its finger at those at the bottom of the social ladder. Through the combination of surveys and census data with oral history collections from early twentieth-century Finland a narrative is constructed of the life as a lodger or landlord/landlady of the working class, demonstrating networks of friendship and mutual support, as well as systems of lodging that were simple economic arrangements for the survival of both parties.