As we grow older, many of us will lose a spouse or partner and find ourselves single again. Or, we may not be working as much as we did when we were younger and want to save money on living expenses by house sharing.
House sharing rentals have become a popular choice for older 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. It’s an appealing idea if you 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 tiny houses isn’t cheap.
How to find a home looking for senior roommates
I recently learned about a house sharing 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 rental 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!
Homeowners can use Silvernest as an extra source of income by renting a room to older tenants.
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 rented a room in a home once and had to share a bathroom with a man, around my age. Even though he was a nice guy, it was a little creepy and I much prefer to have my own bathroom.
I also had two small dogs. My landlord was dog-friendly, but that could be an issue if you have pets. Even though we had full use of the kitchen, it was sometimes awkward. My refrigerator space was severely limited and I ended up microwaving most of my food, which gave me stomach issues. There were frequent guests in the home and we never felt comfortable hanging out in the living room, so we stayed in our rooms most of the time.
Overall, it was a pleasant home in a beautiful neighborhood and worked until I transitioned into a better living situation. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken more time to find a more feasible situation.
Now, I am renting an ADU home that a friend I met in high school owns and have a roommate my age. My girlfriend lives next door. We have our own bathrooms and full use of our living space and garden. It’s supportive, affordable, and fun.
Why sharing a home with other older women 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 have 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.