Rather than live alone after a divorce, or the death of a spouse, and have all the expenses and upkeep of a big, frequently lonely home, many over-50 women are opting to share homes with several women, depending on the size of the house. In fact, it’s a hot new trend that’s sweeping the country, reported AARP news recently.
Data reported recently from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that 500,000 women, or a little over 1% of women 50 and older, are currently living with non-romantic housemates. The trend has grown more in the last few years, influenced by the economic downturn, job/pay cuts, divorces, widowhood, etc. With the idea that two, and more, can live more cheaply than 1, women who become housemates share the total expenses of the home equally – utilities, rent or remaining mortgage payments, household maintenance/repairs. These savings can result in a lot more money to put in retirement accounts, use for traveling, or to just pay down/off existing bills. The bottom line is women (or anyone) sharing a large home is a good move towards greater financial security.
More than 1200 women, age 45 and over, were asked about their opinion of sharing a home with friends, other women, and over 400 answered that, yes, they would consider it providing it included their own private space. Living together “communally” comes somewhat naturally to the Boomer generation, many whom lived in communes in the 1960’s.
While there may be the typical disagreements of people living together under one roof – most housemates set up agreements on shared chores, cooking times, number of visitors, laundry, etc. In addition, there are many positives to such living arrangements such as often getting more square footage than you might renting a small apartment, having people around to visit with when you want, living in a home in a neighborhood where you can feel safe, and just knowing that there are other people in the house, adds to feelings of greater security for older women.
Think you might want to look into joining a housemate commune? There are several organizations across the country that cater to women looking for other housemates to share their homes with or find a place in someone else’s home. Two of them are Golden Girls Housing based in Minneapolis or the National Shared Housing Resource Center in Chicago.
By Rhonda Brandt