With mushrooming lifespans and shrinking budgets, many Americans are looking for new ways to afford retirement.
One such unconventional option addresses senior housing via the concept of house-sharing. The idea entails owning and living in a home together with fellow retirees. Evoking memories of the “Golden Girls,” this option can reduce living expenses, decrease loneliness and establish a built-in social support. For those who can neither afford a traditional retirement home or do not want to live in a retirement community, it may also be ideal.
But while it may be a perfect solution for some, it is certainly not simple to create and manage. It requires planning, patience and flexibility.
Successful senior co-housing should begin with the following steps:
- Choosing roommates wisely. Before embarking on a home purchase and location, consider carefully whom you want to live with. Whether you are planning on doing this with just one other person or a small group, make sure everyone involved is trustworthy and reliable. Be wary of senior scams that promise to pair you up with the perfect person. Stay clear of choosing a roommate whom you don’t know well, even if he or she sounds good on paper.
- Draw up a contract between all the roommates for housing expenses. If you purchased a home together, make sure you are all in agreement about each person’s monthly mortgage obligation. Also, establish a financial plan for utilities, maintenance costs, and an emergency house fund for future repairs. Roofs need replacements, plumbing disasters happen, and homes need regular upkeep that can be very costly. Plan ahead with a clearly-defined contract between all involved parties.
- Set house rules. How will you handle guests? What about grandchildren? Consider carefully who will be responsible for cleaning duties. One option is to hire a weekly cleaning service to maintain the kitchen, bathrooms and common areas in particular, with the expense shared equally among all the roommates. Also, discuss rules in advance regarding pets. Don’t forget to discuss consequences for breaking rules.
- Create a move-out option. Plan ahead for the possibility that one of you may want or need to move out. As you age, you may suddenly need round-the-clock care and be forced to change your living arrangements accordingly. Or maybe, the arrangement will not work as well as you anticipated, and you want out. Perhaps the group dynamics changes, and one party is no longer wanted. Work with an attorney in advance, and sign an agreement altogether detailing the finances and timeline for moving out.
Co-living arrangements may seem unusual to some. But many factors make it an attractive option. For many divorcees, especially women, or seniors without children, it beats living alone any day. For them, it can be tremendously comforting, reassuring, and exciting to live with fellow seniors.
At Silverman Financial, we review all options available to make your retirement as financially stable and fulfilling as possibly. We review traditional and alternative housing options and create a roadmap to secure the happiest retirement for your specific needs.