Home Sharing: Cut Costs and Gain Companionship

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With the booming sharing economy, most people are familiar with popular home sharing sites such as Airbnb which offers temporary housing in widespread locations. But let’s take it to another level: permanent home sharing.

In this context, home sharing refers to the phenomenon of aging adults choosing to share their homes with similar people. Those that opt for this type of arrangement include widows, the recently divorced, single people, and others who simply want to cut their monthly costs as retirement nears. In many cases, retirees may choose to home share to save money and offer flexibility without having to worry about a mortgage.

Shared housing can appeal to multiple demographics, although it is prevalent among women. Statistics may help shed some light as to why.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an astounding 56.9 percent of women over the age of 75 were widows in 2010. The shock value increases when compared to the percentage of men of the same demographic that are widowed: 21.2 percent. The census suggests that the difference may be attributed to the fact that men tend to marry younger women and also have a higher propensity to remarry faster, thus closing the gap between widowhood and remarriage.

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The same 2010 census reveals that 28.3 percent of the U.S. household population that is age 65 and over is living alone. This percentage equates to 11 million people living alone. Of this number, 71.2 percent were women.

Lastly, a June 2015 housing analysis conducted by the Urban Institute projected the amount of senior households in the U.S. will surge to 46 million. This is in comparison to the 25.8 million senior households that existed only five years ago. Thus, home sharing is expected to grow increasingly as the years progress.

Although home sharing is not a new development, it is something that can be difficult to navigate. Many questions can arise such as, “How do I find an available home that is suitable for me?” “Can my home become a shared home?” “Will my friends and family judge me for living with roommates?” and, “When is home sharing not ideal?”

Some may feel that the act of sharing a home for permanent residence—especially at a mature age—is taboo or may bring feelings of shame. After all, owning a home that is meant for only one’s self and family affords a sense of freedom and pride.

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Forfeiting this notion may stir up feelings of lost independence and defeat, particularly if home sharing is done for financial purposes. However, the growing popularity of home sharing is sure to conquer these negative feelings. Furthermore, the word “roommate” should not be equated to past memories of ruckus roommate situations that may have been endured in young adulthood.

Any preconceived notions should dwindle as the current situation is much different. As an older individual, all parties within the home are self-sufficient adults with decades of life experience.

Emotions aside, home sharing during the latter part of life has varied requirements, depending on the chosen method of finding a home. For example, various websites that connect interested homeowners and home seekers require a minimum age requirement to be considered a “mature adult.” Numerous websites consider 40 years of age to be the minimum for membership, whereas other sites accept any age as long as assisted care is not needed.

People can choose from social networks created especially for mature home sharing such as the Golden Girls Network and Golden Girls Home (although not related), or can visit their local government website as many cities offer home sharing options for older individuals. Among all of these home sharing options there is one consistent caveat: most websites require an individual to be in good health in order to participate. It is important to note that those that participate in home sharing are not nurses or caregivers. They simply want to live their lives while saving money or possibly for the sake of companionship. 

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It is also important to realize that living with others does not guarantee friendship, although it is highly encouraged and often a result. Whether using social websites or your local city’s program, detailed questionnaires and background checks are provided to prevent hostile and/or negative living situations. Although one does not have to be a best friend with a roommate, the relationship should certainly be amicable and ideally beneficial for basic necessities.

Once a home seeker or homeowner finds what they are looking for, house rules must be adopted. This is no different than any other living situation, whether it is a married couple newly living together, roommates, or friends. In many cases, individuals choose to split grocery costs if they have similar eating habits, which lowers costs and associated tasks even more for those involved.

Home sharing has benefits that are overwhelming when compared to the secondary option of living alone with a potentially costly mortgage and prolonged solitude. Living with others can brighten spirits, add money to retirement, and can help those that are newly single traverse an intimidating new chapter of their lives.

To view the original article please see our magazine titled “Women-Owned Businesses Across the Housing Continuum” Vol 4, Issue 4 by Clicking Here 

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