IMG_9153_Joye_in_Seattle_2013_summer.jpg
 
This blog post was written by MyRetirement.org member nindethana. If you would like to write a blog post to be featured on the community, please send an email with your proposed topic to MyRetirementOrgFeedback@tiaa-cref.org.
 
I have posted once before regarding seniors "sharing" living arrangements. I am 76 and have engaged in this sort of arrangement for over 13 years in what I consider to be a highly successful situation.
 
My arrangement only involves individuals who are in the last years of employment or are currently retired and returning to education for post-retirement careers or interests. We "share" a large home on three acres near a small town with a university. There is one owner (me) and the property is located in an area limiting personal dwellings to no more than four unrelated people. We found three people to be most successful. Usually a variety of ages has worked—anywhere from 50 up. Yes, it may be considered a highly organized "housemate" situation, but it works.
 
There is an elaborate interview process with specific questions and "bottom line" commonalities discussed. A visit to the present living situation of the new person is often very revealing. Basic values and life beliefs are foremost in commonalities. All members of the household have input if we receive a new member in our home.
 
Living with mutual respect and communication always has been the KEY to success. Each person has a private area with a bedroom, sitting room and bath and can have a small refrigerator and microwave. There is a large kitchen, dining and living room area that is common to everyone. There is also a sunroom and a TV/den area. There are 3 decks that are designated for private outdoor gatherings.
 
Defining various roles and responsibilities for each member of the household is also extremely important. We define duties and have a pay-back plan (reduction of next month's payment) according to the duties being performed. The duties are evaluated depending on the needs of the household. If a person decides he/she wants to pay the full amount, then those assigned duties can be taken care of externally.
 
Usually our success has been greatest with one male who likes and is able to help with the mundane upkeep of yard and small repairs inside the house and a female who enjoys keeping the house clean and organized and taking care of the garden. I, as the owner, take care of the bills, major upkeep and basic improvements to make all more comfortable. Usually we have one person who likes to cook meals once a week for all household members, with others contributing financially or through pot luck dishes. It helps to have a person who has had medical or caregiving skills/experience. It seems important for each person to have responsibilities and to feel needed.
 
Another key to the success of our household is that all of our members love to travel and are at a stage in their lives when they have the time and financial ability to do so. Having people go away "makes the heart grow fonder" and it is always a pleasure to get together and hear about the travels upon their return. Additionally, the remaining members have more freedom and privacy with their guests.
 
We operate as a family: we email and discuss with all household members if we will be away overnight or for an extended period of time. We coordinate vehicles in case of emergencies and provide rides to the airport or public transport.  We have a "house meeting" or community dinner about once a month to discuss any issues regarding property or concerns.
 
We have had the same population remaining with us for more than 10 years and have had more than one family member join our group. We are still in touch with those who have "come and gone" and always invite the former "family" members to our yearly summer gathering.
 
I hope this account of our living arrangement can help others who need to make a change. I am truly interested in providing for more advanced aging needs, as I am certainly entering that category. I am interested in how other single females handle prolonging independent living in one’s own home. I have no living members of the "next" generation in my family; therefore, "I am strictly on my own."