For some people, it's hard to imagine living with a roommate who is not a spouse or family member. Boomers typically value senior independence and might feel that having roommates will infringe upon their privacy, or maybe some have just never thought of living with others when they are well into adulthood. After all, it isn't part of American culture today – communal living is for college students, right?
In a recent AARP article, three women – all in their early sixties – talked about their decision to buy a home together in their fifties, taking out a three-way mortgage. The women seemed to have mostly positive things to say about their experience as Boomer roommates:
"It's like living with two wonderful sisters," said Karen Bush, a former corporate consultant.
The women split the rent, pool grocery money and have set rules about chores, quiet hours and guests.
A recent NPR article noted that women Boomers are more likely to live together than men. According to Sara Rix at the AARP Public Policy Institute, older women are less likely to have pension coverage than men, so this may be the reason. But also, according to a recent Bowling Green State University report, one in three Baby Boomers is unmarried.
While it isn't for everyone, communal living can be a great way for seniors to maintain social connections and independence, as well as remain financially stable by pooling resources. Having roommates could be especially beneficial for single or widowed Boomers with hearing loss who would otherwise live alone because it can help them be and feel safer. Also, if you're not yet comfortable with your hearing loss, living alone could lead to social isolation.
Here are some things to consider before you decide to house-share:
1. What are you looking for in a roommate? Consider whether you want someone who could be a best friend, or whether you're just looking for a nice person that doesn't have too many guests over and keeps the house clean.
2. What household rules will you have? It's good to discuss these upfront – and potentially even draw up a contract – so you and your new roommates will agree upon expectations.
3. How will you split costs and what are rules for shared areas?
4. Should you buy or rent? Renting can be a good exit strategy in case things don't work out.
5. Should you use an online site or consultant or do you have a group of friends in mind?