Showing posts with label senior shared housing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label senior shared housing. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Benefits of Senior Roommates

A significant percentage of senior citizens will spend at least part of their lives living alone.  When this happens, they may suffer from loneliness and depression.  In addition, it can be expensive for one person to afford to pay all the bills.  Because of this, senior roommates are becoming a popular trend.

According to an article in the "Answers" book for the Orange County, California Council on Aging, four million American women now live in households with at least two women over the age of 50.

Why Women are Alone as They Age

More than one-third of women over the age of 65 now live alone.  The reasons for this could be the death of a spouse, divorce, or the fact that they never married.

On average, women live about five years longer than men.  In addition, women often marry men who are older than they are ... which means that some women may live a decade or longer after their husbands die.

Another issue is that there has been a huge increase in gray divorce.  Since 1990, the divorce rate for people over the age of 50 has doubled, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research.

Advantages of Senior Roommates

When women decide to enter a house sharing arrangement, they can both benefit in several ways.

*  Financially, people supporting themselves on fixed incomes can live more comfortably if they share the cost of housing, utilities and other expenses.

*  The added security of having another person in the home can be one more advantage of having a roommate.

*  Socialization is an additional reason for finding a roommate.  It is easy for people to become isolated, lonely and depressed as they age.  People who live with an amicable friend will always have someone to talk to, eat with, and sometimes they will do other things together ... such as attending movies or traveling.

Is Having a Roommate Right for You?

Not everyone actually wants to have a roommate close to them all the time.  You need to know yourself, and evaluate the home you will be sharing.  Will you have enough personal, private space?  Are you flexible?  Do you have a lot of allergies, health problems or food preferences which could make it difficult for you to live with other people?

What Guidelines Need to be Put in Writing?

If you are planning to live with another person, it may go better if the two of you put your expectations in writing and discuss them first.  Below are some issues your agreement may need to cover:

*  Decide in advance specifically how the expenses will be shared.  Will one person be the landlord and the other the tenant, or will everything be split right down the middle?
*  Decide who will perform which household tasks and how often ... cleaning, cooking, dishes, yardwork, etc.
*  Decide if the two of you are going to cook and eat together or if you will each be responsible for your own meals.
*  Reach an agreement about pets ... if they are allowed, what kind, how large, where they will be kept, etc.
*  Discuss grandchildren with each other.  Will they be allowed to spend the night, how often, where they will sleep, etc.
*  Discuss other relatives, such as adult children, and whether they will be allowed to spend the night.
*  Discuss dating and whether your dates will be allowed to spend the night.
*  Discuss personal habits such as smoking and drinking.
*  If either of you have strong religious or political opinions that could be the source of arguments, you should consider that before making a decision about whether or not you want to live with this person.
*  Discuss other expectations such as entertaining friends, relying on each other to do the shopping, what time the house should be quiet, using earphones to watch TV, when you could each practice playing your musical instruments, etc.
*  Discuss healthcare preferences with each other, in the event of a medical emergency.  Also make sure you both have contact information for relatives, employers, lawyers or other people who would need to be contacted in the event of death or serious illness.

As you can see, there are a large number of issues to consider before you decide if you and your roommate will be compatible.  Everything should be put in writing after you have talked about it.  This will reduce confusion about what you both agreed to.

How to Find a Roommate

In many cases, you may already know someone who is looking for a roommate because they recently lost a spouse or experienced a financial setback.  However, before bringing up the topic with them, ask yourself how well you think you will get along with that person.  Do they have personal habits that you find irritating?  Even someone who talks too much or too loudly can become irritating after a while.

If you are thinking about getting a senior roommate, you can visit the National Shared Housing website for additional help.

If you need other ideas about where to retire, common medical issues, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare or other retirement issues, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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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:

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

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