Single? Female? Retired? In Search of Roommate? Expert Interview with Golden Girls Network About Shared Living

Do you remember the TV show “The Golden Girls?” Four silver-haired ladies, sharing a household, lending strength, support, and ultimately friendship to one another? Have you ever considered a living situation like that for yourself?

senior women
Roommates can be fun at any age.

This interview was originally conducted in 2015 and has been updated where necessary for 2020.

Living in shared housing with people who aren’t your family, is incredibly common among young adults, but a lot of retirees don’t even consider it as an option for them. Shared living has many advantages – from saving money to having company – that would benefit retirees, if they knew where to find it.

Since most retirees haven’t lived with a stranger in decades, finding roommates isn’t necessarily the first thing they think of when looking at living arrangements.

Thankfully, there are experts like Bonnie Moore of the Golden Girls Network to answer all of our questions, letting us know the ins and outs of shared living among seniors. Here’s what she had to say during a recent interview:

You’ve talked about a network being a group of people who have a common interest and compatible goals. What are some examples of different kinds of interests and goals among retirees? What kind of an effect could these interests and goals potentially have on a shared living situation?

Retirees is a very big category. Let me narrow it a little. I work with single women, many of whom don’t have a lot of money, or they are nearing retirement with not much money. Often these women have homes that they don’t want to leave.

So, in my group, we still have an interest in working, maybe part-time. We often have hobbies or volunteer interests that we want to pursue. For instance, I always wanted to learn to play the piano, so I started taking lessons. I don’t ever expect to play well, but it is a bucket list item for me. I have a roommate who always wanted to become a preacher, so she did.

Living in shared housing gives us more financial freedom to pursue these interests. I know of other women who want to live near their children and grandchildren, and this is an easy way to do it. Others want to travel more.

In other situations, you might have someone with some health issues who would like to have someone in the house to help out a little.

How is shared living among seniors different than assisted living? Do they share any of the same perks and drawbacks?

Assisted living is important for people as they get into their older years when they really do need assistance. Shared living is more for the single adult who is relatively healthy. Assisted living is also much too expensive for many people. Shared living is much more like the Golden Girls, just sharing friendship and space.

A lot of younger people share housing with strangers, but it could be a new experience for some seniors. What are some things a senior can look for, to find the best shared living situation for themselves?

Yes, it is a new experience for many seniors, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. However, it can be great. Look for compatibility, similar cleanliness requirements, similarities in lifestyle.

For instance, one thing that is usually more important to older people is religion. Sometimes there are differences that might get in the way if you are sharing, but would be fine if you lived next door.

For seniors who haven’t lived with strangers in a long time, do you have any advice on ways they can make sure the household stays balanced, that everyone gets enough privacy, pulls their own weight, etc.?

House agreements are essential. A chore list is essential. Being able to talk about small issues and work things out.

How much money does a senior stand to save in a year, by living in a shared housing situation?

My sense is that a person can save about 50 percent of their housing cost by sharing. It always varies, but that seems to be the rule of thumb.

What are some of the other, non-financial advantages of living with other people?

The best part of shared housing is that you have someone to talk to, even on a casual basis. You have a sense of family when your family has grown up and moved away.

For more updates from Golden Girls, connect on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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