Why Sharing a Home is Often an Excellent Downsizing Strategy for Seniors
Who doesn’t remember the “bigger is better” philosophy of the 70s and 80s? These days it seems America’s gotten wise, or at least more conservative when it comes to financial and resource waste – hence our shrinking cars and soda pop cans.
This shift in preference and perspective is especially noticeable in the housing trends of the Boomer generation. Many of us are choosing smaller, more efficient, more easily managed homes for our “second adulthood.”
The good news is there are so many of us that we’re shaping the market in general. Check out this article from The Street about the downsizing mode embraced – and fueled – by Boomers.
Moving to a smaller home and ridding yourself of unneeded belongings is a wise choice for many. Why maintain more space, more utility bills, and more “stuff” than you need? A growing number of us have entered the process of weeding through our belongings and scoping out new and smaller places to live.
I so often hear friends discussing their efforts to clean out their excess stuff these days that I’m starting to wonder if eBay and Goodwill are becoming overwhelmed by the wave of “incoming” from the Boomer generation.
But What About Downsizing by Sharing a Larger Home?
Although downsizing can be the smart thing to do, it doesn’t necessarily mean moving to a smaller home. What about changing up your living situation in an entirely new way?
Maybe you’re not the small-home type, or the prospect of moving from a single-family home to a condo just does not appeal to you. What if you’ve always wanted to live in a larger house or on a bigger spread of property than where you are now?
You can do just that – and reduce your living expenses and the work of maintaining your home at the same time – if you consider sharing housing with others. You might find a woman who currently lives in a large home and has decided to rent out individual bedrooms so she can stay right where she is. Or you could seek out other women who want to live in a big place and would be interested in joining forces to buy a large house together as a group.
The potential benefits are obvious: You’d have more “house” to live in; you’d save expenses because your housing cost would consist of only a percentage of the entire house payments, utilities, and maintenance; and you’d save work and time too as you divided up responsibility for repairs, maintenance, and general cleaning and upkeep with your fellow roommates.
The Independence Factor
You might want to consider, too, the personal independence that can be extended considerably if you share a home with others rather than opting to live alone. Sure, you have to get along with them and you need to cooperate on how and when you will use the communal spaces, but think of how much help and support you can receive from one another at the same time.
Would you rather be queen of your own solitary castle for a limited period of time until you reach the point when you need help and might have to move into assisted living, or would you rather share your home with friends now, and live indefinitely in a mutually supportive arrangement of your own making?
The Freedom Factor
Then there’s the freedom factor – your ability to get away if you reduce your living expenses and thus have more income available for discretionary expenditures like travel. What if living with friends in a communal arrangement afforded you the opportunity to visit your children more often, or take an occasional cruise, or travel to places you’ve always wanted to see? The freedom to live a larger life can far outweigh the possible inconveniences of having to cooperate with roommates.
As for me, I’m researching places where I might like to live when I’m a little older. And I’m keeping an open mind as I do so; not just looking for places ideal for living alone or as a couple, but places that might work well for a little community of three or four or even five roommates who would love to live where and how I would like to.
I have a feeling that it would be easy, and natural, to share living space with like-minded women whose tastes and preferences have led them to the same place I’ve chosen.
If you’re reading this post and thinking, “No, not me,” think again. Look at Six Reasons Why You Might Very Well Decide to Live with A Roommate. With those reasons in the mix, keep an open mind for now. You may thank yourself later.
Are you thinking about downsizing? Are you in the process of weeding out belongings that you no longer need with an eye toward moving to a smaller space in the future? Have you compared how much extra income would be available if you lived with roommates rather than alone? What questions do you have about these possible next steps? Please share in the comments.
Karen Venable is founder of Roommates4Boomers, a service for women over 50 that matches roommates using an algorithm similar to what dating sites use. Several years ago when Karen was going through a divorce, she realized how helpful it would be if there were a service that matched compatible over-50 women, so she launched Roommates4Boomers.