The Benefits of Living with a Roommate at Any Age

by Debra Karplus

The Benefits of Living with a Roommate At Any Age photo

Think you’re too old to have a roommate? Think again! Having the right roommate could make your life more manageable in numerous ways. Consider these ways a roommate could benefit you no matter your age.

According to AspenIdeas.org, “lonely people are more likely to become ill.” To many people, that piece of information isn’t at all surprising. Loneliness can, in fact, lead to depression, which can exacerbate health issues.

Maybe you don’t see yourself as lonely, but perhaps you do struggle with paying your living expenses for one of any possible reasons. Has it ever occurred to you to take in a roommate?

Before you dismiss this goofy-sounding idea because of images of wild drinking parties in the 1978 film Animal House or Oscar and Felix in TV’s The Odd Couple, open your mind to some of the practical reasons why taking in a roommate may improve your life in tangible and intangible ways.

Roommates can be helpful for older people.

Andrea is a 62-year-old widowed woman, who, because of circumstances beyond her control, recently became unemployed without adequate resources to live in her condominium in a gated community in Southern California. She pays nearly $600 monthly in condo dues, and though the outdoor heated pool and hot tub are lovely amenities, as is the clubhouse fitness center, pool table, and lending library, she can no longer afford to pay for all this in addition to other living expenses.

For a while, she used her place as an Airbnb, offering short-term rental for solo travelers, charging approximately $60 a night for a bedroom, bathroom, continental breakfast, and use of the condo amenities. However, she doesn’t have guests living with her consistently and is opting to find a long-term roommate to share her entire condo and pay closer to $2000 with a lease of at least one year. Andrea points out that not only will it improve her cash flow, but it will also give her a “buddy” to hang out with when she is home, because admittedly, she gets lonely at times.

Julia, a semi-retired private practice attorney in her mid-60s, travels often. Having a roommate solves the problem of hiring a house sitter when she’s away and provides companionship when she is in town.

Dirk, in his late 60s, lives in a relatively small ranch-style home in a college town in Central Illinois. Dirk has had difficulty maintaining employment because of some serious health problems that sometimes impair his judgment and short-term memory. He has two roommates at any given time, typically male college students, who can help him with household tasks in addition to the monthly rent they pay. He enjoys having these “pals” and insists it helps keep him young. He also enjoys eating some meals as a family. Having roommates has allowed him to remain living in a home that he loves and can now afford.

Seniors having roommates is a trend that has been occurring for a while. Perhaps you remember the 1980s hit sitcom The Golden Girls. There are currently websites that help seniors find appropriate roommates, such as SeniorHomeShares.com.

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How do you find a reasonable roommate?

If you have not had a roommate and you live alone, assess what part of the house you would rent out and some basic house rules pertaining to visitors, parties, quiet hours, cleaning, utility usage, vehicle parking, and other issues that could become sticking points after your roommate moves in.

Also, would there be other responsibilities that your roommate might be given like lawn moving or shoveling snow, for example?

Ask around in your area and search online to find out a reasonable amount of money you can charge for rent. You may also want to contact the company that provides your homeowner’s insurance and also check with your local municipality regarding possible zoning issues.

Possibly you want to consult an attorney to draw up a lease, or if you are confident with a rent agreement template that you find online, use it.

Finally, get the word out that you are looking for a tenant with a yard sign and using word-of-mouth.

Having the right roommate might be just what you need to make your life more manageable in numerous ways.

Reviewed April 2021

About the Author

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon (Kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for freelancewriting.com and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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