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by Ellen Blake
originally posted 8.5.2019
“Live with a stranger? No Way!”
I hear this statement many times. But people are starting to rethink their living situations. For example, my active and youthful friend, Marilyn, was widowed last year at age 56. She and her husband planned to grow old together in the house where they raised their children, but Marilyn did not want to continue to live there alone. The upkeep and expense were too much to handle by herself, and the silence was deafening. Though the decision to sell the family home was emotional and difficult, deciding where to go next proved even more so. Marilyn’s situation is not uncommon for single boomers, and as a result, many people, particularly women, are now consider unique options like housesharing, a relatively new trend.
What is housesharing?
No two situations are the same, but basically, housesharing is when two or more unrelated people live in the same home while retaining their own private space inside the residence. It is a new way for people to meet their housing needs. Whether the roommates are close friends or simply share space comfortably, sharing a home is a good way to ease financial burdens and encourage social engagement. A home share situation can also provide physical support, as in the case where an older adult who wants to stay in their home rents a room to a college student in exchange for help around the house.
Is it for You?
The answer depends on your personality and your situation. Are you able to compromise? Do you consider yourself a good communicator? What are your pet peeves? Sharing a space requires acceptance and tolerance; it is not a decision to be taken lightly.
For many single boomers, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For others, there are too many negatives.
Advantages of housesharing
- Ease financial burdens
- Security in knowing one isn’t alone in case of medical emergency or burglary
- Complementary abilities—one may drive and help in that manner while the other pays a bit more of the bills
- Peace of mind for adult children who live far away
- The comfort and ease of being able to stay in one’s own home or in a comfortable setting indefinitely
- Shared household household responsibilities
Disadvantages of housesharing
- Less privacy
- Different standards of cleanliness
- Too many guests invited by one of the occupants
- Financial irresponsibility or instability of one occupant, affecting all occupants
- Incompatible pets
- One person dominating a shared area
Where to find a roommate
Many websites exist to help older adults find roommates. Below are a few that are free to sign up.
NSHRC is a network of independent non-profit homesharing programs across the United States. This organization acts as a clearinghouse of information for those looking to find a shared housing opportunity in their community to to help a program get started.
A one-stop-shop online homesharing platform that pairs boomers, retirees, empty nesters and other older adults with compatible housemates for long-term rent arrangements. Through these creative living situations, homeowners earn extra income, remain in their homes longer, and keep isolation at bay, while renters pay far less than market rent. Both enjoy companionship and the efficiencies that come with sharing a space.
An online housemate service catering to older adults. They match elders who have more home than they need or can afford with elders on a fixed income who are looking for safe, affordable housing. Many users are empty-nesters, widows, or widowers.
Roommates for Boomers is specifically for Women 50 and over. The company focuses on providing a safe way to find a roommate to share a home. It was started by a woman who lived in a shared home after her divorce and wanted to help others in the same position find an affordable and practical way to live comfortably.
ALA acts as an intermediary to screen both providers and seekers. They match compatible roommates, execute roommate agreements and monitor ongoing matches. The average age of people using this service is 65,and the average match lasts 2.5 years.
The Bottom Line:
People age 50+ are enriching their lives by living in shared housing. Doing so helps them cut expenses, boost their social connections, and increase their safety support systems. Housesharing might be a good option for you. Are you one of the single boomers who thinks you might enjoy having a roommate or two?