House sharing can add a lot of fun and adventure to your life. It can also be a huge challenge if you’re not prepared. To make sure you and your roommates are comfortable, it’s important to make sure your home is roommate-ready. This comprehensive guide will help you make your living space the perfect place for your roommates to call home.
Several weeks ago, a girlfriend approached me about the idea of house sharing. She asked if I’d be interested in sharing her large home with a few other friends. Also, she asked me if I would assist her with redesigning a few of the areas in her home so that she could prepare her 3,500 square-foot home for house sharing.
She, like many other single women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s are thinking of ways they can re-purpose and leverage their biggest asset to generate additional income in retirement, while also creating a small, vibrant community of women who can thrive as they age.
Granted, house sharing is a unique alternative lifestyle that is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely an option that many single women 60+ are considering for a variety of reasons and concerns.
“Will I run out of money in retirement?”
House-sharing is an emerging trend as one solution to more affordable housing for women aging alone. It is also a viable option to senior living facilities that the average middle-class women cannot afford. Many factors contribute to roommates later in life after divorce, loss of a spouse or partner, lack of support system, or adult children not in the area, but the most common reason for older women to consider living together is financial.
With the cost of housing and healthcare being at an all-time high, and with inflation and recession pressure, it makes sense to share housing and living costs. Financial stability and sustainability are very real concerns for divorced, widowed, never married solo agers.
“I don’t want to grow old alone.”
Studies show that isolation and loneliness are two of the greatest silent killers of a longer and happier life. Without social connection or very little human interaction, we are likely to die 5 years sooner than those who have a support system that includes family and friends.
Living alone in the suburbs and rural settings might provide the comfort of living in the home where you raised your children, but it may not be conducive to aging well.
“Who will care about me as I age?”
House sharing is not care giving, but it does provide an opportunity to develop friendships, people who care about you, who will drive you to doctors’ appointments, help you shop or go to church with you. Transportation dependency is a big deal if we want to remain independent as long as possible. For those who do not have children, or those children live away, the comfort and companionship in home sharing settings certainly helps.
“What if my spouse or partner dies before I do?”
Suddenly alone, having to start over later in life and rebuild your new life as a single is not only an emotional challenge, it is also a financial dilemma that presents many questions.
Where will I live? What can I now afford? Is it wise to age alone, while coping with emotional loss?
In many ways, given certain circumstances, house sharing might be a wise choice at this stage of your life.
“I want to thrive in my third act.”
At this stage of life, we have more freedom and flexibility than we’ve had in years. Personal growth, making a difference, living our best life now is often top of mind.
Living with roommates with similar interests, who enjoy similar activities, and have great expectations and aspirations help us find new meaning, purpose, and zest for life.
While every home and space is uniquely different, these design tips will generate ideas on how to divide the space in your home, providing for your roommates’ needs while protecting each others’ privacy and while living together in a shared setting.
Rearrange furniture in communal spaces to have multiple functions: hang out, rest, watch TV, eat, entertain, work.
Example: A work table can provide space to eat, entertain, meet, play games, and work.
Create semi private spaces by using room dividers, folding screens, French doors, pocket doors, barn doors. Divide the open plan to allow for multiple activities.
Example: TV viewing, private conversations, reading, working, entertaining.
Max out storage by using built-ins, bookcases, wall mount shelving, storage cabinets. Also, outfit closets to max out storage.
Re-purpose your master bedroom and bath to create a larger private suite.
If you have two adjoining rooms, break through to create a suite by adding French doors, barn doors, or pocket doors. You might also want to incorporate a small eating area/conference area/game table and kitchenette. This may require either a small or larger renovation.
Use multi-functional furniture to max out the bedroom without overcrowding. Use storage headboards, bookcase headboards, under bed storage, Murphy beds, with fold down desk, lounge chairs, and storage ottomans.
If renovating or retrofitting your bathrooms, use universal design principles that provide for ADA compliant spaces and fixtures. As an example, curbless shower with seat, grab bars, and hand-held shower.
Depending upon your space, you might want to incorporate a Jack and Jill bathroom with shared sinks, walk-in shower, and linen storage.
Max out kitchen space with additional seating, that might incorporate banquette seating and dining table that can be used for additional seating, lounging, work area, game table, TV viewing.
If your home has unique nooks and crannies, use these spaces to include library, kitchenette, game area, reading area, or additional storage.
Centrally mount a chalkboard or whiteboard to post activities, doctors’ appointments, shopping trips as well as shopping lists, chore schedules, menus, cooking and cleaning schedules.
As we experienced during Covid, outdoor spaces became a critical part of our lifestyle. Create sanctuary-like spaces that include garden, comfortable seating, intimate dining spaces. These can be used for working, entertaining, getaway space when you want and need privacy.
While many of these design tips are low-cost decorating and furniture ideas, if you are considering having long-term roommates, it may be well worth investing in a solid design and plan for a renovation that best accommodates the needs of older adult roommates.
Perhaps you remember tuning in to watch the Golden Girls TV series during the late 80s. You probably recall the fun and lively conversations with Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia, roommates from different walks of life, sharing a home together in their 60s and 70s.
Back then, you may not have imagined that you’d ever entertain the thought of having roommates in your 60s and 70s, but as our lives change, so must we challenge our thinking to at least consider a real-life Golden Girls’ lifestyle. In this era of economic uncertainty, home sharing and cost sharing may provide the freedom you want and need to experience an easier and more fulfilling lifestyle in your golden years.
Would you consider sharing your house with a roommate? What about being a roommate in someone else’s house? Why or why not? Have you tried house sharing before? To what results?
Tags Downsizing Your Life