How Would You Feel About Having a ‘Boom-Mate’?

by Susan Williams, founder of
Could You Have a Boom-Mate photo

Perhaps you can’t imagine sharing your home with a young adult. But the benefits of sharing excess rooms in your house could be quite substantial both for you and them. Read on to see if this type of living situation could be a good solution for you as you age.

There was a really interesting article published in Quartz. In the post, they posed the question whether the empty bedrooms in baby boomer homes could possibly be a solution to the housing crunch many young adults are facing. They introduced the idea of “boom-mates.”

I really thought this was an interesting idea and possibly had quite a bit of merit and here’s why.

Question: What does AirB&B, Uber, Car2Go have in common?
Answer: They all are part of the new sharing economy.

These companies take advantage of the availability of either a home or a car and share it across many different people. Sharing excess rooms in a house could easily fall into this same model and the benefits of this could be quite substantial. Here are a just few I thought of:

Combat Loneliness

Chances are you probably thought the first benefit I would mention is the financial benefit baby boomers would receive as a result of renting a room in their house. As important as this is, I put loneliness at the top of the list for a reason. Loneliness is an upcoming epidemic for aging.

Did you know that loneliness can increase your odds of an early death by 45%? (Just for comparison, obesity increases it by 20%.) Loneliness can also increase your risk for dementia along with generating the opportunity to develop a number of other health issues. It has also been compared to being just as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

In a study completed by the AARP of people over the age of 45, they discovered that 35% of the respondents reported feeling lonely. If a baby boomer was to share their home with a young adult, there may be an increased opportunity for some personal interaction and conversation. There is also the potential as shown in some recent examples of the positive affect of having younger people living with older people and the relationships that they have built.

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Financial Benefit

Okay, now let’s talk money. Sadly, many baby boomers are financially ill prepared for retirement. They have just not saved enough. As a result, an additional cash flow would certainly help at this time of life.

Renting a room could actually help to ease some of this financial burden. The money collected could help offset some living costs, contribute to the maintenance of the home, and possibly help them to be able to stay in their homes longer.

Location, Location, Location

Many baby boomers are the owners of prime real estate and the cost of this real estate is just way too far out of reach for the pocket books of young adults. As a result, young people are either paying sky high rents to live in these areas or experiencing extensive commute times from locations that offer more affordable rent. If baby boomers were able to offer rooms in these high demand areas at some more affordable prices, this could help provide support to young adults in both saving money and possibly commute time.

Support Aging in Place

An estimated 87% of adults 65+ want to remain living in their own homes and communities. However, the reality of doing this without any help or support decreases as you age and begin to require additional support and assistance.

If baby boomers were to share their homes with young adults, there could be an exchange of services arranged. Consider home maintenance services in exchange for rent or riving to appointments in exchange for dinner. Whatever assistance may be required could possibly present a win/win situation for both.

Risks and Concerns of Having a Boom-Mate

Along with all this upside, there are still some potential risks and concerns that I think also need to be considered.

Stranger Danger

Whenever someone you don’t know comes into your home, there is a risk. You don’t know who they are and you really don’t know if you can trust them. This is especially true if you’re sharing your personal space. References and background checks become critical. You don’t want to have someone who presents a potential danger or risk in your home.

No Rent Payment

The last thing you want to be worried about is whether you will get your rent payment or not. Again, credit checks and references will be critical.

Just Don’t Like Each Other

Not everyone gets along, and sharing your living quarters with someone you don’t particularly like can be a very painful experience (just ask anyone who lived with someone before they got divorced). To avoid this, it might be good to spend some time getting to know each other before starting any arrangement.

Different Lifestyles and Respect

I know I sometimes can’t help but raise an eyebrow when one of my millennial kids heads out to have coffee with friends at 10pm at night when I’m heading up to bed, but that’s what they do. How they live their lives and how I live mine are quite different.

If you are sharing living space with someone (especially if they are in a different time of their life), you need to be able to understand and respect that their lifestyle may be different and refrain from judgement. This doesn’t mean that you allow for a lack of respect. It means that they need to respect your lifestyle choices just as much as you respect their choices.

So, I think there is definitely an upside to the potential of getting a boom-mate. This could pave the way to not only shared homes but maybe even shared lifestyle improvements.

Reviewed August 2022

About the Author

Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore, a website and social media network dedicated to providing information and inspiration to help Baby Boomers create and live their very best encore.

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