Senior Shared Housing Trend Boosted by COVID-19 Pandemic

The idea of senior shared housing — older adults sharing a home or apartment — is not new. Felix and Oscar of 1960s Odd Couple fame and The Golden Girls sitcom of the ’80s are two media manifestations of shared housing. And New Retirement notes that around 2010, national news outlets began reporting an increase in the number of seniors moving into shared housing arrangements. However, there has been a significant uptick in the number of baby boomers in shared housing arrangements since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Why the Sudden Interest in Shared Housing?

Shared housing always has served as an attractive option for older adults desiring to save money on housing costs while remaining independent. The origin of the current trend can be found in two by-products of the pandemic. First, so many older adult communities were devastated by COVID-19 infections — among staff and residents — that some baby boomers sought a safer solution. Rooming with two-to-four others presented a safer option than larger communities.

The pandemic also exacerbated the already high level of isolation felt by many single or widowed older adults. Cut off even from such routine interactions as grocery shopping or stopping by restaurants raised feelings of isolation in the population in general, but especially among senior citizens. Shared housing arrangements bring with them added opportunities for social interaction and companionship.

Additionally, senior shared housing reduces the housing cost burden — not just rent/mortgage but also such expenses as cleaning and yard services — thus freeing up more cash for healthcare and other living expenses. 

Shared Housing is the triple hitter: Improved health safety, social engagement, and financial stability. There is nothing “sudden” about this option. It is the solution that has been hiding in plain sight for generations.

Third Chapter Living: It’s all about Mindset!

This is the time of life to explore, to look at what is around us and consider afresh where opportunities for joy may lay. Shared living situations could be just the spark needed to trigger new friendships, a new sense of security, and new income. Where to start? Here are three ways to match action with a new mindset:

  • Change the Conversation — Promote the concept of shared living among friends and family. Proudly tell co-workers, club members and other colleagues about examples and invite broad discussion. One never knows who else might be entertaining the idea but may have been embarrassed or nervous to discuss it.
  • Senior Roommate Services — As the concept grows, so do the avenues for finding like-minded candidates. There are many online nonprofit and for-profit groups that exist to pair potential housemates and senior roommates. One good place to start learning more about home sharing options is the National Shared Housing Resource Center. Remember that couples as well as singles are in the marketplace!
  • Become an Airbnb Host — Seniors are “repurposing” extra bedrooms as they try out sharing their homes with strangers. Renting that space is a great way to earn extra money, meet new people and put unused space to good use, and seniors are among the hosts who are stepping up to meet the huge demand for daily rentals which Airbnb services. Some folks have launched new businesses (“Side Hustles”) where they host guests in homes they have rented, while others have started by redecorating a bedroom in their empty nest. Step-by-step guidance on doing this safely and profitably can be found at https://seniorhousinghunt.com/info.

The pandemic has forced us all to be conscious about personal space. What is enough? When is it being shared with too many or too closely? What is really important about it? Worries, yes. But also the opportunity to really evaluate and redefine what that personal space could be. 

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age in place. Become a part of the group.

2 Comments

  1. John Zeisel on July 11, 2022 at 7:21 am

    Social engagement is an esential element in “successful aging” as well as a “treatment” to slow down “cognitive decline”. Shared housing might be a good way to age well.

    • Reese Fayde on July 11, 2022 at 5:51 pm

      John, We should explore some of your work and the initiatives of your non-profit, I’m Still Here, in future issues of this blog. Third Chapter Living is about living fully and your work can give us a few more tools to help us do so.

      Your thoughtful comments are most appreciated!

      Reese

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