Living smaller is a choice. And being on a fixed income, such as for older people on Social Security with little retirement/savings – it is a necessity.
Many older people are now considering the option of having roommates or homesharing. Our culture has, for decades, encouraged individuals to be independent until starting their own families…so this is a difficult shift for many people and may feel like “going backward”. Especially as they have become used to their solitude, privacy, and routines.
Yet the financial reality is, that if you are in a big home with many bedrooms, it is a burden to care for and pay for. Even if you are lucky enough to have paid off your mortgage – utilities and taxes continue to climb, while your income is fixed.
And if you do not own property, rents continue to rise, as well as healthcare costs. While your income stays the same.
It is a “no-brainer” to look for roommates in your age group when finances are fixed. And there are some applications out there such as Silver Nest at www.silvernest.com and Senior Home Shares at www.seniorhomeshares.com. But they are not yet well-known.
And of course, sharing a place is not for everyone – there are many considerations – such as:
- Do you have pets?
- Does the home-owner or apartment renter have pets?
- What happens when you want to have visitors?
- What about family?
- What happens if there is a medical emergency?
- What happens if the person you are renting from – dies?
- What happens in the event of a natural catastrophe (earthquake, fire, etc)?
- What happens if there is a burglary?
Plus is it truly a “roommate” arrangement with shared responsibilities or are you simply renting a room?
While you answer those questions for yourself, there are upsides to shared living for seniors: Companionship and Safety.
You may not think you need to have someone to say “good morning” to, but it is good for your health to interact amiably with another human being; and if you have a roommate, and you have a medical emergency – there is someone there who can call for help. And surprisingly for some, having a roommate, ensures a few more years of independence.
So if you are on a fixed income, and thinking of living smaller to help make your dollars stretch a little further, consider a roommate.