The Golden Girls were on to something. With rents and energy prices soaring, taking on a roommate or two doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Rose, Dorothy, Sophia and Blanche showed us how it's done. The pandemic and soaring housing costs are making it a reality.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise with inflation hitting 8.5 percent in March, a 40-year high. The costs of energy, housing and food drove the surge, like in previous months.
Older adults on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to rising housing costs. After all, the 5.9 percent cost of living increase in Social Security benefits isn’t keeping up with inflation. To free up cash, an increasing number of 50 and older Americans are opening their homes to roommates to share in the costs and/or help with the chores. It's a trend that’s poised to continue in the years to come.
By 2035, 11.5 million renters will be 65 and older, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Many will need help covering bills. “At this point, you have to think outside the box because housing costs are going up drastically and people on fixed incomes aren’t keeping up,” says Martha Shapiro, director of programs at Senior Concerns. “It’s a great solution if done carefully.”
Money saver if done right
Opening your home or rental to roommates may seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve lived alone for a while, but it can be a big money saver. Not only is a portion of your rent or mortgage covered but you can split utilities, entertainment and food.
Depending on the health and age of your roommate, that person can share in the chores and can be a companion. All of it sounds great on paper but to make it work requires a lot of soul searching, due diligence and attention to detail. After all, you may have the best roommate in the world but if you prefer to be alone it likely won’t work out.