SAdly I unsubbed, for now. But I am curious about the housing. I am mostly trying to not sub to games because I am about to move to MI in a few months, so I need to save my pennies. I also like to buy shop stuff, sooooo, lol.
Three free housing options can be got. These are tiny tiny rooms. larger ones can be paid for in gold or crowns. Gold buys you unfurnished places (I think). With crowns you can buy furnished or unfurnished (crowns are effectively real dollars).
The game plays well if you are not a subscriber. The biggest issue (say my nonsub friends) is that f you want to craft, the gathering resources will quickly fill up your inventory. Subs get infinite storage for crafting materials. So for non-subs that's a bit of a pain. Still, you can work around that.
If you're a non-sub, then joining active good trading guilds is a huge plus. It's pretty easy to participate in and sell most stuff, then use golds to buy what you need (if not kept). Inventory and bank slots can be increased per character for in-game gold, too.
but of you had a veteran character (level 50 CP160+), then the game will play for you just as you recalled it!
if you ever decide 'oh heck I will buy some crowns' as a non-sub so I can buy cool stuff in the Crown Store' -- DON'T go and buy a crown pack. Instead take out a sub for x number of months. You get 1500 crowns per month, all at once as soon as you sub. That is the cheapest was for a non-sub to get crowns.