Thursday, July 25, 2013

Home Sharing Arrangements with Senior Roommates

Like many other American women, a friend of mine has a husband with several serious medical issues.  In addition, he is fifteen years older than she is, giving her good reasons to believe that she will probably outlive him.  Among her other concerns, she is worried about how she will be able to afford her house payments, homeowner's association dues, utilities and other expenses if he dies and she is forced to live on just one retirement income.  One possibility that she has seriously explored is having another woman move in with her as a roommate.

House sharing has become a popular option among Baby Boomers and older retirees, particularly women.  According to an article entitled "Home Sweet Home" in the June, 2013 issue of the AARP Bulletin, approximately four million women who are over the age of 50 currently live in a home with at least one other woman in the same age group.

Reasons To Consider Sharing a House

There are many reasons why older women who haven't lived with another woman in decades are now beginning to accept the idea of having roommates once again.  Here are some of the more common reasons:

At least one in three women will live a substantial part of their senior years without a spouse.

In addition to becoming widowed, the divorce rate for couples over the age of 50 has increased significantly, actually doubling in the past two decades.

A substantial number of women retirees, in particular, will receive only a small amount of Social Security benefits, often $1200 a month or less.

Many women want to maintain some privacy as they get older, but they also want companionship and friends nearby.   Having a private room in shared housing is a satisfactory compromise.

Safety is another consideration.  Women living alone are more vulnerable to being victimized than women living in groups.  In addition, should one of them fall or become injured, it is reassuring to know that help is nearby.

House Sharing Agreements

If you are considering this option, you and your housemates will need to have a written agreement that covers many of the potential problems that can arise.  What you put in the agreement will vary depending on the specific home sharing arrangement you have ... co-renters, co-owners or landlord/tenant.  Among the issues that need to be clarified in writing are:

The portion of the rent or house payment, as well as utilities, each person will pay.  Everyone needs to be aware that these amounts are likely to increase in the future as rents, property taxes and utilities rise.

The private room or rooms that each person will occupy.

Who is responsible for the various chores, such as cleaning the common areas, taking out the trash, paying the common bills, handling the yard work, etc.

Clearly defined limitations on overnight guests.  If you or your housemates have grandchildren nearby, you may also want to limit daytime visits, as well.  You may think your grandchildren can do no wrong; your roommates may disagree.

Rules that designate "quiet times" in the home, such as after 10:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m. Televisions, radios, etc. may only be heard by using earphones during those hours.

Rules regarding other issues such as smoking, having pets, setting up an escrow account for repairs (if you are co-owners), kitchen messes, or noisy hobbies such as playing an instrument need to be worked out and put in writing.

Decisions need to be made in advance regarding what will happen if one of the housemates becomes too ill or weak to continue to participate in an independent living arrangement.  If you are co-owners and one of the parties must enter a nursing home, what will happen? What is everyone's "Plan B?"

Finally, you may want to speak with  attorneys, financial planners and similar advisers, particularly if you and your housemates are purchasing a home together.  There are a lot of legal issues to consider.

House Sharing Websites

If you are interested in senior shared housing, you will want to do additional research.  Here are a few websites which can help you locate roommates.  I have not used any of them myself in order to find a roommate, but these are the sites that were specifically mentioned in the AARP article:

http://www.homesharenow.org/

http://www.livingincommunity.net/

http://www.letssharehousing.com/

In addition, if you are considering a home sharing arrangement with strangers, I strongly suggest that you proceed cautiously, ask for personal references and get a background check.  You want to have as much information as possible about the people with whom you will be sharing a home.

Books to Give You Additional Information

Several people who have gone through the ups and downs of shared housing have written books on the topic.   You may be interested in picking up one or two of them to get additional insight into the things you need to consider before entering into an agreement.  Here are two from Amazon that looked particularly interesting:

"My House, Our House:  Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household."


"Sharing Housing:  A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates"


If you are in the process of planning your retirement, or you are already retired, you may also be interested in checking out the index articles listed below.  Each one contains an introduction plus links to other articles in this blog.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:  http://baby-boomer-retirement.blogspot.com

Photo of three women friends is courtesy of www.morguefile.com

2 comments:

  1. One of my good friends has done this and I know she needs some of the good information contained in this article. I will definitely be sharing this with her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent information! In fact, I like it so much that I have just placed a hyperlink to it on my blog, Retirement411, so that my viewers can come see it. Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete

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