Content starts here

Finding a homemate is on the rise among seniors

Regular Contributor

Finding a homemate is on the rise among seniors

This article talks about the advantages of sharing housing along with ways to make it successful.

  • Ease financial burdens
  • Companionship
  • Security in knowing one isn’t alone in case of medical emergency or burglary.
  • Complementary abilities—one may drive and help in that manner while the other pays a bit more of the bills.
  • Peace of mind for adult children who live far away.
  • The comfort and ease of being able to stay in one’s own home or in a comfortable setting indefinitely.
  • Shared household responsibilities

This 50-Plus article covers a variety of questions and answers.


I'm happy to talk with anyone interested in exploring shared housing.


I'd interviewed author (SHARING HOUSING: A GUIDEBOOK FOR FINDING AND KEEPING GOOD HOUSEMATES)  and shared housing Advocate Annamarie Pluhar about a plan for successful home sharing.

0 Kudos
Honored Social Butterfly

While that may sound appealing for some people, I wonder what happens when one may begin to need some extra care and it would come down on the other one to fill the job.


That happens sometimes in Senior independent living facilities - it goes along fine for years and then one on the floor may need help with all kinds of things.  Then somebody has to remind the person needing the extra help that the living arrangement is designated as INDEPENDENT.  


Is there some measure that could be put into place that could overcome this problem - especially if the subject house is owned by the person that begins to need added care?  Or even if it is the other person sharing the abode - what's the other person suppose to do - kick them out?


We all have things that begin to come up as we get older and with a living arrangement such as this, it just seems that there has to be some really good lines drawn as to when it is working and then when it may not for some reason.

Just thinking out loud - probably not for me even though I could probably accomodate even more than one - BIG house; lots of rooms/baths - (2) kitchens.


It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
Regular Contributor

Hi  @GailL1 


Home sharing isn't for everyone but for those who are friendly, good communicators and willing to work things out as adults, it can serve a lot of needs for more than one person.


I agree there will be times, particularly with sharer's as they age, that the possibility of health care needs may arise. 


I've worked with folks who provide solutions in the senior care industry and as you say, an independent living facility will have tenants who also will be required to move if their care needs exceed the staffing level of responsibility. Folks who live in independent living facilities will need to hire a care giver or move out. 


That would be written into the original signed contract between the facility and the tenant prior to move in. Time parameters about conditions for 'move out' or continuing living in the setting if private caregivers are established and all parties sign the document.


Folks who decide to consider shared housing should establish what their needs are such as what are their MUST HAVES and CAN'T HAVES?


Sharer's would have a written agreement to cover all the possibilities including care needs in the future. See this NOLO article for details.


I can imagine several scenarios surrounding the possibility if one of the sharer's would need care.


1) The written signed agreement would have a clause written into it and signed by both parties outlining the understanding.


2) A home with multiple rooms and home-mates may provide housing for a private caregiver in exchange for reduced rent if the need arises. Negotiating the details of the caregiver's responsibilities to the household would be outlined in the rental and care agreement.


3) Planning ahead and having a scenario outlined in the rental/housemate agreement about eventualities, family involvement, move out time frames, etc should be covered to satisfy all the participants, deterring the possibility of homelessness.


4) Creating a multi-generational home with a variety of ages living under the same roof. That way as folks age in place there can be residents contributing time or service (willingly) as a little extra to support the community.


I think it's important to plan ahead for possibilities.


Remembering nothing stays the same.


Children move a distance away. People are left without partners for one reason or another. The same holds true for folks who choose a home share lifestyle. Having a Plan B & Plan C are always a good thing. 


Consider all our options. There is no one size fits all AND there are hundreds of options to create a good life fit.


I'm glad you can keep up with your big house and two kitchens by yourself. As you state sharing your space with others isn't a lifestyle you would choose but I am glad you offered another perspective to discuss  the future.


We are all walking each other home.


We're all just walking each other home.We're all just walking each other home.




0 Kudos
Esteemed Social Butterfly

I too have my concerns. My main concern is the end result being homelessness for single seniors, which would be devastating. Also, vulnerable seniors putting their trust in the wrong people.


From the article provided, the following could also apply to non-seniors living in a co-housing situation...

Disadvantages of House Sharing

Despite the many advantages of senior house sharing, there are also some disadvantages.

  • Less privacy.
  • Different standards of cleanliness.
  • Too many guests invited by one of the occupants.
  • Financial irresponsibility or instability of one occupant, affecting all occupants.
  • Incompatible pets.
  • One person dominating a shared area.

I would love to see this list more catered with seniors in mind, or a bit more senior specific. Also, this really doesn't pertain to 50+ in general (barely empty nesters), it applies to 'Boomers,' who are the age of 60+.


In addition, I love 'The Golden Girls,' but it's now the 21st century, not the 80's, where there's a significant societal difference between someone who's born in the early 20th century vs someone born mid-century. There's a 30-year gap! 🤷‍

Regular Contributor

Hi @KellytheBelly 


Establishing boundaries and implementing agreements insures a positive outcome. Using established tools home-sharers will by-pass DISADVANTAGES like those noted above. Ground rules are important in any relationship.


Thanks for the mentioning the age perception about the Golden Girls. It's a program I never watched.


And true too about society , and how 70 is the new 40.


Be strategic and methodical in the search for a compatible home-mate.


Sharing a home can solve the problem of isolation, falling behind on maintenance or  their taxes if on fixed income.  Relationships change as will those of home-sharers.


First and foremost. AGREE.  NO ONE needs to be exploited or be vulnerable to any sort of abuse. It happens all too often with the majority of perpetrators being family members. So, 100% agree. NO exploitation!


I'd love to offer another perspective on your concerns for shared housing.


There are so many different lifestyles out there. It's important to look at as we consider home sharing as an option. Personally, I love having someone friendly to come home to without a romantic involvement. 


There are lots of support systems around the country related to sharing and they all use a vetting process to make matches.


They also offer guidelines for home-mate interviewing designed to make successful matches between compatible adults.


Let's all agree, a housemate such as a "long time unemployed grand-nephew and pregnant girlfriend" or anyone who isn't compatible will NOT BE IN the queue for potential housemate consideration. 

The Odd CoupleThe Odd Couple




If a region doesn't offer a home matching program or you prefer to D.I.Y. the first step in gaining momentum is deciding on parameters. Throughout our lives we implemented rules, written or not,  for ANY HOUSEHOLD we lived in. Having those in place is necessary for everything to run as smooth as possible.


Having an action plan for making that a reality takes work from everyone concerned before embarking on a SUCCESSFUL shared housing journey.


Interview questions, rental agreements including exit strategies signed by all concerned parties are essential. 


roommate agreement image.jpeg



By highlighting the things that are important to everyone participating we begin to learn who is a good fit or not. You've brought up many questions that are ripe for asking potential home-mates.


I'm going take into consideration that all the participants are entering into the interview process truthfully and the conversation will take place over several sessions as the selection process becomes fruitful.


Eliminate making choices out of desperation. Plan AHEAD.


Communication is KEY.

Those who are uncomfortable with communicating thoughtfully should not consider sharing housing.


A thorough VETTING PROCESS, including multiple interviews, background checks and reference collection benefits the selection process.


Just 'settling' or ignoring red flags can result in a poor fit for the homeowner or potential home-mate.


Here's an incomplete list someone who had your comments in mind mights ask interviewees.


If someone doesn't meet the expectation of a predetermined criteria, then moving along to another person is recommended. It's a good strategy for finding a good match.


  • What about guests? Are they allowed? Overnight guests?
  • Are additional pets allowed? Do you have a territorial pet.
  • What is your thought about dishes in the sink?
  • Do you have the income to enter into a rental agreement with one another?
  • What about climate of the home?

All of these things AND MANY MORE can be addressed through the interviewing AND the RENTAL Agreement process, And if the situation changes, an exit strategy should be included in the agreement and signed by all the parties.


If participants refuse to answer questions that meet one's needs, moving along to the next candidate is crucial until a success fit is found


Here are some resources for crafting a rental agreement once a thorough interview process and background check has been completed, And reference checked. Nothing should be left to chance.


A self-paced class on learning the ropes to successful shared housing


Craft A cohabitation agreement Legal Zoom


The Blueprint of We: Negotiating The Shared Housing Experience including coaching sessions


And if you are curious, have questions, or want to share more, I'm happy to chat on here I have many more resources and ideas surrounding this lifestyle choice. 


Thanks again for thinking about how we can rebuild strong vibrant communities through successfully sharing housing!


Eric-Klinenberg WLIC.png

0 Kudos
Honored Social Butterfly


So it is really just a rental type deal - if the abode is owned by one of the mates.  Sounds like a lot of legal T’s to cross and make sure that everything is covered.  Personally, if I was gonna have to go thru all this trouble, I would just rent a portion of the house out (defined area) and then make a profit, perhaps some tax savings and without all the companion entanglements.


Perhaps a place where both rent on equal standing - like when we were in college.  That way, it is all separate from the get-go but of course, then there is still other items like one person wanting it colder / warmer (energy cost) than the other.


I just think there is a simpler way for a person that wants to stay in their home to get this done if feasible.  Hire a caregiver or even a companion.  


Even life-long friends may not be able to live together for a long term because of some differences that would become accentuated when they occured days in, day out.


Got any real examples?  Ones that aren’t based on TV/Movie characters?  

Yes, I am sure that it could work for select people and not just the elderly - it all goes back to the tolerance level and how much they want to make it work - in the end that is the true measure, isn’t it?





It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
0 Kudos
Regular Contributor

Hi @GailL1 


There ARE people who do rent just a space and are content with that.


Then there are others who enjoy sharing a home. There is no one size fits all.


Would you sign a lease for part of a home or an apartment? A little insurance against problems doesn't hurt, in case something DOES arise.


Here are some real-life situations.


I don't know if you viewed the "The Share Home Sharing Collective"  youtube channel? That's being added to as new interviewee's content is available.


In the meantime,  here are some actual people, not TV characters, living in a caring way through home sharing. There is Doris's video, then two from a couple of different programs in Los Angeles and Oregon.


In the first video you will meet home sharer Doris Beckman.

A widow, she has been sharing in the Bay Area for the past few years since her husband passed away.

(Previously he had managed all the bills and she was buried under medical debt and was in danger of losing her home.) She has thrived by opening her home to sharing.


There are many more examples that aren't TV characters.


It does make sense  to share considering. the staggering cost of rent country wide. Whether it's senior/senior or senior/masters student or single mom/single mom. 


The 'rules' are a safeguard yes? 

And folks who don't have the ability to 'hire a caregiver'  may benefit if they are mortgage challenged.


Enjoy learning more about these folks through these video examples @GailL1 







0 Kudos
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Need to Know

Flash Sale! Join or renew for $9 per year with a 5-year membership.
Join or renew
and get a FREE gift!

AARP Membership Flash Sale

More From AARP