Roommates were a constant part of my life during college and in my twenties. Financially it would have been impossible for me to live on my own, but just as important as money was my desire to not come home to an empty apartment every night. Some roommates were great, like the three girls I lived with in a four bedroom condo minutes from the Pacific Ocean. Others, like the guy who spent a half hour flossing his teeth with the door open in our shared bathroom each morning and evening, left something to be desired.
Traditionally, living with roommates has been the lifestyle primarily of the young and single, but more and more people in their 50s and beyond are turning to home sharing to ease the high cost of living and reduce the isolation that can occur when older adults live on their own. Karen Venable started her company, Roommates4Boomers, after a terrific experience sharing a home with a roommate after her midlife divorce. Seeing the need for a service to match roommates both looking for a place to live and looking for someone to share their home, Karen has created a website where women can search for a living situation that suits their needs.
Widowed, divorced, never-married, childless — there are many reasons why boomers in their 50s, 60s and beyond will find themselves living on their own as they age. For example:
Women are more likely to be single than men (72 percent of women vs 45 percent of men).
Men on average have twice the median income single women do ($27,707 for males and $15,362 for females in 2011).
Along with many other statistics, these make it clear that lots of boomer women are greatly in need of a roommate for both financial and personal reasons.
Living with a roommate at midlife and beyond can be a challenge. Lifelong habits and rituals must be respected, even as relationships are built between virtual strangers. I would be interested in this idea if I was suddenly single after a lifetime of roommates and a husband, because I can imagine it would be difficult to live on my own after always having companionship. Searching for just the right situation would not be easy, but Roommates4Boomers would simplify it. With detailed information on the profile of each user, potential roommates can narrow down their choices. There are questions on topics ranging from cleanliness to political beliefs, with a 4-star rating for how important a topic is to the applicant. For example, I work at home, so I would prefer to have a roommate who goes to work each day, giving me the quiet I need to get my job done.
As the $10 billion sharing economy continues to grow, shared housing will also continue to increase among the middle-aged and senior citizens. The boomer population is aging, and women may decide that living in a senior community is not what they want, but being alone isn’t a good choice, either. Home sharing is an excellent compromise, ensuring companionship and security, especially if there is a health or personal emergency. With living expenses extremely high in some of the countries biggest cities, Roommates4Boomers offers the chance to stay in a beloved home while reducing the monthly costs.
Roommates4Boomers is available in every state except North Dakota and Montana.
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