Lately, I’ve been exploring the idea of house sharing. I’m caring for my significant other who has cancer and, even though it’s a morose thought, I want to be prepared in case my living situation suddenly changes. So far, so good, knock on wood. As a general rule, women live longer than men and I’ve already experienced widowhood.
Sharing a home with other Baby Boomer and senior women has become a popular choice for widows, divorcees, or those who never got around to getting married. Trying to manage on your own can be difficult and overwhelming especially when it comes to finances. It’s even more challenging if you’re working less, come up short on Social Security, or have little in savings.
The women’s movement gave women our age the chance to enjoy lucrative careers and some married well, but others stayed at home with kids, didn’t go to college, or worked jobs without benefits. In Los Angeles, where I live, rents and other living expenses are sky-high.
It’s even harder for women who don’t have adult children or support from other family members when times get rough. Some feel lonely and isolated. House sharing makes it easier for women to live within their means and offers the companionship of others to help reduce some of the stress.
Consider the alternatives
In a previous post, I wrote about the concept of tiny homes often referred to as Granny pods. They’re small cottages no larger than about 400 square feet that typically sit in someone else’s backyard. The idea of it appealed to me because, to be honest, I’d prefer to live alone but still within reach of someone on the same property in case of an emergency. The only problem is, you have to find someone with a backyard who’s willing to host you and the cost of little houses isn’t cheap.
I also toyed with the idea of joining a hippie commune but haven’t heard about any that are advertising for an over the hill flower child. I’m not even sure they still exist.
Finding older roommates may be easier than you think
I recently learned about a website called Silvernest that has a database of homeowners who are seeking older people as tenants. The company offers a monthly service that generates a state-specific house-sharing agreement, sets up auto rent payments and gives renters access to a certified relationship counselor or attorney to answer their questions. It’s a brilliant idea!
I don’t have a personal relationship with this company and haven’t tried it myself, but since I’m in exploration mode, I thought I’d check it out. The company also offers an opportunity to earn extra income for homeowners who want to rent some of their rooms to older renters.
Moving in with people you don’t know can be scary, but Silvernest vets them out and assists in resolving roommate issues that may come up. For those who are short of cash, as many single older women are, there are options to reduce the rent in exchange for doing work around the home. Think of Silvernest as a dating service for roommates.
What could go wrong?
I’ve found most women I know to be supportive of each other but what if you’re stuck with a roommate from hell? With the political situation the way it is, I’d want to make extra sure I was simpatico with whomever I moved in with.
Another complication for me is that I have two little dogs I would never give up no matter what. My 15-year old male is a social butterfly and loves everyone but occasionally has pee accidents. My 12-year old female will bark her head off if anyone looks at her funny. Maybe that means I should move into a kennel.
I remember having roommates when I was in my twenties and studying acting in LA. We were pretty wild back then in the 70s. What if my “older” roommates are still wild? What happened in the 70s should probably stay there, but we did have fun.
House sharing with women our own age makes plenty of sense
In Okinawa Japan, a large percentage of women live to be over 100-years old. A factor in their longevity is that they hang out in groups with other women their age. Even in their 90s and beyond they support each other through life’s challenges which is an important factor for quality aging and a win-win situation for all involved.
I bet that’s why the TV show Grace and Frankie is so popular. Even though Grace and Frankie have little in common, they’ve formed a bond that keeps them going. And, of course, there were those Golden Girls.
What do you think? Can you see yourself house sharing with other women your age if you find yourself alone someday? Please leave a comment below.