Whether they’ve spent their lives single or have come to it through divorce or widowhood, some women—especially retirees—are turning to home-sharing as a solution to their housing needs.
The Golden Girls may have been onto something
Sharing a home with women in the same life stage can be beneficial in several ways.
Financially: Cost sharing on the mortgage, taxes, utilities, maintenance and even groceries can give roommates access to more for less. This is especially enticing for retirees on a fixed income.
Psychologically: Rattling around inside an empty house can be lonely and frightening. Living with others can improve a sense of security and foster a sense of community – even just having someone ask how your day was can lift spirits.
Socially: As we age, isolation becomes a real concern. Living with others can encourage more physical activity, intellectual engagement, and even basic companionship for food shopping or doctor’s visits.
A different definition of “family”
Shared living among older adults is trending, with websites and roommate-search services on the rise. It’s not entirely surprising, since nearly 25% of Americans over the age of 65 are at risk of becoming “elder orphans”—people without family to help out as they grow older.1 Sharing space is an alternative for those not interested in retirement communities and not yet in need of assisted living or nursing home care.
First, set the ground rules
If you’re thinking of living with roommates you know well or others you meet, the key to success is communication. Set the rules up front, and get everyone to agree. This way, there’ll be no squabbles about how high to put the heat, how long someone’s grandkids can visit or whose turn it is to clean the kitchen. Get the financial arrangements in place, too. If the home is owned by one of you, run a credit check on all roommates and get a first- and last-month deposit in case you part ways. If you pool assets to purchase a home, be sure to involve financial and legal advisors to make certain you are protected appropriately and there’s a procedure in place to sell if necessary.
1 “Aging Baby Boomers, Childless and Unmarried, At Risk of Becoming ‘Elder Orphans’; May 2015; northwell.edu/about/news/aging-baby-boomers-childless-and-unmarried-risk-becoming-elder-orphans
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