A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
Guest post by Bonnie Moore
Aging in Place The IDEA Series
Bonnie Moore is a practical problem solver. I first heard about what she was doing on NPR: Boomer House Mate have More Fun. I knew she was offering something very viable for boomer women aging in place. I contacted her and we presented together at the American Society on Aging Conference several years ago. Since then she has created a media buzz and her IDEA is spreading across the country and the globe. Bonnie has taken on a BIG problem and turned it into a BIG opportunity and she shares it here with you.
Have you ever considered living like the characters on The Golden Girls? While the show featuring those four fabulous female housemates has been off the air for years, the lifestyle inspired by the show is a growing national trend.
That’s right — roommates aren’t just for college students anymore! Many baby boomers are looking for answers because housing cost are too high and they feel lonely when their kids grow up and their spouse is no longer around. Or they are proud of the house the built and want to stay in the comforts of their home as they age.
When a divorce left me living alone in a newly remodeled five-bedroom home in 2008, I found four roommates to fill the bedrooms. Now, more than eight years later, my housemates have become an important part of my life. In addition to contributing rent that makes my mortgage affordable, we throw parties together, get to know one another’s friends, and help each other out. Are you wondering if sharing a house and household duties with other like-minded people around your same age would work for you? Do any of these sound like you?
You’re looking to re-invent yourself. Perhaps you’re questioning the circumstances, meaning, and direction of your life and resolving to do things differently. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to surround yourself with other people seeking change? Sharing your home and life with others who are “reinventing” provides laughter, companionship, and financial and emotional support as we go down that crooked path called life.
You have an extra room where you live. That home with all of those wonderful memories can begin feeling a little haunted when you’re the only one roaming around in it. Sharing a room in your home, townhouse, or apartment with a housemate will give you someone to say “hello” to at the end of the day, someone to talk about your children with, and someone to call when your car breaks down.
You enjoy home-based activities. You enjoy cooking a meal and doing some gardening and getting some exercise. Now imagine how much more fun the meal planning and dirt digging and taking a walk could be with another person. Shared living allows you to find like-minded people who can help transform the household duties into household delights.
You are healthy and not ready for assisted living or moving in with your children. The momentum we had as younger adults can feel like it’s stalling as we age. The end of a marriage, childrearing, or a career can leave us wondering what is next. Shared living is not a retirement home. In fact, finding the right shared living situation can open doors that allow you to take an exciting next step in your life.
You would like to make new friends. Perhaps that one person who received all of your unconditional love — a spouse, a child, a parent, a best friend — is no longer around. But we all deserve lives filled with laughter, joy, and companionship. Shared living can connect you with people who share your interests and value the unique qualities you bring to a friendship.
You can no longer afford to stay in your home by yourself. All kinds of circumstances — job loss, a divorce, an economic downturn — can make keeping that home you love difficult. By inviting a housemate to live with you, you can gain the confidence of financial stability while creating a welcoming environment for someone who might become a lifelong friend.
You are feeling a lack of community. Shared living can help you build your own “community” using the resource of your home. Find individuals interested in the same passions you have like cooking, the environment, or spirituality. Or, if you’re new to an area, you can quickly integrate into a community by becoming a member of a group household.
You feel like you’ve become too focused on your job. If your job or volunteer position or hobby feels like the only activity you have to occupy your time, your housemates can bring new energy to your life. Inspiration from others is what keeps us from stagnating.
You like activity in your home. If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a friend over for dinner, host a committee meeting, or invite a crowd at Thanksgiving, then you are a perfect housemate. All housing situations are different, but the best ones thrive on the energy of like-minded people living and having fun together.
Golden Girls Network was featured in a CBS news segment, PBS, and on a French TV network. We have also been mentioned in the Christian Science Monitor, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, and other retirement blogs. She’s a Huffington Post contributing blogger and was recently published in the Washington Post.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Golden Girls Network blog and the Huffington Post. Bonnie Moore is the founder of Golden Girls Network, the only nationwide network that helps adults’ ages 50+ find roommates and access the resources they need to make shared living work. She teaches classes about shared living and is the author of How to Start a Golden Girls Home.
Thank you, Bonnie, for your contribution to Aging in Place: The IDEA Series.