By Bernard A. Krooks, Certified Elder Law Attorney
As baby boomers enter retirement, a trend is emerging: more and more single seniors are choosing to live with roommates.
This living arrangement may be especially attractive to widows or widowers in retirement who own a home that is too large or expensive for one person. Other options such as selling the home to move into a smaller one, moving into a retirement community, or living with an adult child, may not be as appealing as staying put and welcoming a roommate.
People in retirement find home sharing to be a viable option because it allows a certain lifestyle to be maintained, preserves one’s independence and adds the positive element of companionship. Loneliness and isolation are significant problems for many single people in retirement, and home sharing can be a solution. Many people living in a home sharing situation cite the sense of community as a positive factor. Simply having someone to ask how one’s day is going or help out with little things can make a huge difference in one’s outlook.
Saving money is a big motivator as well. A shared household is more efficient, and single individuals whose adult children are grown may find that paying all of the expenses of a household on their own is not feasible. Roommates can share in all household expenses. This reduction in costs makes it possible for single seniors to stay in a larger home and can be an important way to preserve their financial advantages.
Of course, living with roommates often requires accommodation. Seniors may not have lived with a roommate since their college years and adapting to different personalities and lifestyles may take adjustment. Some seniors in a group housing arrangements have found it useful to hold house meetings and set house rules.
Setting up a household with another single friend may be the most common set-up, but cooperative households have been formed by seniors who did not know each other previously. Home sharing is being organized through websites, workshops and meetings for potential housemates to get to know each other. In considering potential roommates, it is important to talk beforehand about expectations and potential differences in lifestyle to determine whether compatibility exists.
Although it may be common for one roommate to move into a home owned by another and pay rent, other groups of seniors have invested in a home together. Joint ownership of a home and joint checking accounts for roommates may not be the norm, but they have worked in some instances for close friends committed to living cooperatively.
Overall, home sharing can be a practical and enjoyable option for seniors. “The Golden Girls” may have had the right idea after all.
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