House-sharing could be a golden opportunity to age in place

Back in the mid 1980s, American television viewers were introduced to The Golden Girls, four fun-loving and aging women — still young at heart — who shared a home in Miami and, of course, got themselves into hilarious situations episode after episode. While the ladies would often get on each other’s nerves, their living situation did have several advantages, perhaps the biggest plus being companionship.

In today’s non-TV world, more and more people are looking for housing alternatives as they age, and the house-sharing arrangement like the one portrayed on The Golden Girls is becoming increasingly popular. Leave it to the Baby Boomers to make house-sharing a national trend!

By definition, shared housing is an arrangement between two or more unrelated people who choose to live together to take advantage of the mutual benefits the situation offers. It allows individuals to age in place, yet not alone. In addition to companionship, the house-sharing trend offers several other advantages. For example, those household chores that never seem to get any easier can now be split between two or more people. And, there can be a considerable cost savings for all involved. Just think about it — typical household expenses such as utilities and maintenance can be equally divided and shared! Additionally, there is peace of mind and a feeling of security that comes with having other people living in the home and keeping an eye out for one another.

Of course, house-sharing isn’t always the ideal situation. Finding a roommate, or roommates, who are compatible and trustworthy might not be easy. And what happens when one of the individuals is late paying their portion of the shared expenses? What about rules on pets, smoking and room temperature? While you might like the temperature set at 68 degrees, one of your housemates might prefer 72 and another might like it at 75. Those are all things to consider before moving in together. And perhaps the biggest potential problem of them all: What happens if one of the roommates eventually needs additional care that his or her companions cannot provide?

In the absence of a formal screening process, aging professionals agree that if a house-sharing situation is in your future, it’s probably best to move in with someone who has been a good friend for years, or at the very least the friend of a good friend who comes with a strong recommendation. But, you’ll never know if it’s truly going to work until you put the plan into action.

For more information on independent housing alternatives for seniors, please visit the Erie County Senior Services website at www.erie.gov/seniorservices

Michael Olear is a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker with MJ Peterson Real Estate – www.olear.com

This article originally appeared in The Buffalo News Homefinder on January 6, 2018 and is reprinted with permission

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