The time was right for the three 50-something women to pool their resources and buy a house togehter.
Louise Machinist, a clinical psychologist, was ready to move out of her house now that her children were grown. Jean McQuillin, a case management nurse, had just moved into a rental apartment from the home she had shared with her then-husband. Karen Bush's job as a corporate consultant required her to travel often, which meant making arrangements for her cat and fish — and returning to an empty house.
For the women, buying a home to share made sense. Said Machinist, "There's every advantage to be gained from it."
(Watch the video below to see how the trio make their shared household work.)
The House-Sharing Trend
What to Look for in a Housemate
- Does she meet your requirements about what you must have in a housemate? Examples: a productive life, considerate and flexible, good values, a realistic vision of what living together entails, common expectations about the arrangement.
- What are deal breakers for you? A boyfriend who will be sleeping over a lot? A pet? Someone who is messy or doesn't have boundaries? Something else?
- Is she financially stable?
- What do her references say? If she's home-shared before, what do her housemates think of her? Get at least two references. Ask about her strengths and weaknesses and if there's anything you should know.
- Lastly, have you done an internet search on her name to learn more about her?
Other older singles seem to agree. Increasingly, female boomers and older women — both bosom buddies and strangers — are moving in together as a way to save money and form a community.
Online home-sharing websites, workshops and meetings for prospective housemates are booming. One such event recently occurred in Sarasota, Fla., where people in the city's Living in Community Network met potential housemates.
At the online service Let's Share Housing, based in Portland, Ore., which provides a list of people who want to live in shared housing and homeowners who want to share, 80 percent of the clients are boomer women. Fifty-five percent of the women enrolled at the Vermont-based in-person matching service Home Share Now are over age 50. Online interest in the program has doubled since 2007 — likely due, in part, to many more people who have never been married enrolling.
Conditions are ripe to make home sharing an option for many women. Four million women age 50-plus live in U.S. households with at least two women 50-plus — a statistic that is expected to rise. According to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, one out of three boomers will probably face old age without a spouse. Women, on average, live about five years longer than men. Adult children are often far away. And since 1990, the overall divorce rate for the 50-plus demographic has doubled.