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July 5, 2020
It has been nearly 30 years since the hit television sitcom starred in living rooms across the nation. However, we may be just reaching the golden age of the Golden Girls.
While their arrangement may have seemed unusual at the time, four adult women sharing an apartment may not be that far-fetched. In fact, many people – widows and widowers in particular – who are approaching retirement age, or who have retired already, are seeking the benefits of home-sharing for their later years.
Beginning in the early 2010s, major national news outlets began reporting on this trend, especially among unmarried women in the Baby Boomer generation.
It makes sense: studies show loneliness can be a major detriment to health and an individual’s wellbeing. Many people are not able to physically maintain their homes on their own when they are older, and thus, they face steep costs for household tasks such as cleaning, exterior maintenance, and transportation when needed. Why not share the costs and benefit from everything else that a live-in roommate has to offer?
But it’s not all Golden Girls when it comes to home-sharing. There are several different arrangements for which the terminology is being used in the U.S. today.
Most like the Golden Girls-style housing, under this arrangement, two or more retirees move into a single house or apartment in order to share the household costs and enjoy the company of one another.
This arrangement works when one party owns an existing home, and another person pays rent (in addition to agreed-upon household terms). Alternatively, both parties may decide to rent. The news outlet NPR cited this example in an article: a Florida woman had a five-bedroom house that was too big for her needs. She was able to cohabitate with several other single women facing similar circumstances.
Some states, and many jurisdictions, have home-sharing programs that will help interested parties draw up contracts, pair with prospective matches, and navigate the home-sharing process. The National Shared Housing Resource Center offers more information.
In this type of arrangement, an older homeowner rents space to a younger person who can provide help with household chores, maintenance, transportation, and more. In some cases, space is not rented. Rather, the space is bartered in exchange for the housework and other services the younger tenant provides.
Multi-generational home-sharing is most obviously found in family situations (or instances of some familial relationship). Outside of families, there are some organizations affiliated with colleges and universities that match students with older homeowners in the area.
Inquire with local home-sharing organizations or universities in your area. The University of Michigan, for example, operates a HomeShare program through the Michigan Health System’s Housing Bureau for Seniors. It pairs 55+ individuals with matches of all ages.
Co-housing is a little different. Co-housing often applies to a planned community where people live separately but share resources, such as transportation, social gatherings, outdoor amenities, and a common space.
The Villages model is perhaps the most well-known form of co-housing for seniors, with Villages neighborhoods operating in various states and cities nationwide.
This type of “shared” community housing is the most independent but it does not offer the same cost-cutting benefits that the other types do. Retirees – single or not – live in proximity to one another under this model just like they would in any other neighborhood. This one just happens to cater more to their needs.
If you are interested in this type of arrangement, the Cohousing Association of the United States offers a directory of resources for those seeking cohousing opportunities.
Homesharing is a solution, but it’s not for everyone. Like all living arrangements, it comes with its pros and cons.
If you’re interested in a home-sharing solution and would like to know more about the financial implications including costs and benefits, talk with an experienced financial professional for more information.
The NewRetirement Retirement Calculator to help you assess whether home-sharing is a good financial option for you. The system will help you assess your current situation and give you the tools to discover if cutting costs with home-sharing and other options will give you a more viable financial future.
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