The Reality of Roommates for Senior Women


The State of Grace website and the book " Sharing Solutionoffer agreements for individuals seeking to build relationships or establish communities, and offer insight on ways to match personalities.

Retirees Find Communities More Interesting than Shady Pines

The quest for roommates or creative home sharing solutions goes beyond Asheville.

Home Share Program, an organization that matches providers and seekers in Pinellas County, Fla., says the majority of its clients are women of about 57 years old, and most are seeking same-sex roommates. In 2010, the amount of women paired with roommates rose to nearly six times the 2007 figure. "Our numbers are increasing as the program gains popularity," wrote program assistant Shawnda Green.

Robert Fowler, the president of retirement directory 55CommunityGuide, has stayed at numerous communities geared towards seniors, and has begun to notice more women moving into their own smaller homes or sharing a home.

Part of the appeal of single women moving to 55-plus housing is the safety and security the mostly gated communities give them, smaller more efficient homes, and socialization through planned activities, says Fowler.

The number of women taking a look at alternate living like roommate situations and house shares may be on the rise because there are more women separated, married, or divorced, based on U.S. Census figures.

Keep Your Home Sharing from Becoming the Odd Couple

"A lot of older women who have never been married or who have been divorced struggle in our economy and even with my Social Security and retirement it is not easy," says retired teacher Betty Roth.

Some 47 percent of women fear working for an extended period to supplement Social Security income, according to a survey by TD Ameritrade.

\While Roth and her circle of friends have discussed living together, they ran into trouble when planning the details. "We thought about living together but people were pretty much entrenched where they're at," says Roth. "For someone to move to a different part of town would be complicated."

Where you're going to live, and who owns where you're living is important to avoid a power struggle, says Kilkenny. A power struggle or even a hierarchy can result if one person owns the residence. "Even if everyone is singing Kumbaya, we all don't know the words," says Kilkenny.

The 66-year-old Roth decided to post on a website dedicated to exploring creative living arrangement for women. An active senior who enjoys kayaking and hiking, Roth went out in search of a same-sex roommate in August to share her home in Minnesota. Since posting, Roth has altered her living situation and is interviewing women graduate students for a converted apartment area in her home.

As for her Roth's Golden Girls future, "It's an interesting process, I don't know -- it still might happen."

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