Say you're getting older and rattling around a big house by yourself has lost its appeal, but you'd rather gnaw off your own wrist than retire to a nursing home. What are your options? Well, many women are now opting for a set-up straight out of Golden Girls.
Beats the hell out of sharing a retirement community with some dude cooking meth.
The Washington Post reports that communal living is the latest trend among aging boomers, especially women. Take 69-year-old Bonnie Moore, who lived in the Haight-Ashbury at the height of the commune-loving 1960s. When she retired, she began renting out rooms in her home rather than moving in with her son. She's so happy with the arrangement she just launched the Golden Girls Network to help folks like herself find roommates. The site's pitch: "Imagine a house filled with friends."
"I want the interaction," she explained. As for sharing space specifically with fellow retirees, she added: "We're at the same age. We've had the same experiences in life. We can say, 'Where were you when Kennedy was shot?'"
Admittedly, this isn't yet a huge demo. The AARP says just 1 percent of people 46 to 64 live with unrelated roommates. Compare that to adults 50 to 64 living by themselves—around 28 percent. But the group is growing. Between 2000 and 2013, the number expanded from 820,000 to 1,090,000.
The reasons are straight forward: Americans are living longer than ever, and they want to live independently. But the finances don't necessarily work: 401(k)s were decimated by the recession, and those big suburban homes don't sell for as much as they once did. Plus, many of those who're divorced or widowed would simply like company that comes without requests to babysit the grandkids. Roommates offer companionship and help make ends meet.
This just looks like the new normal to me. Younger Americans expect to live with roommates throughout their 20s at least, thanks to sluggish wages and delayed marriage. (Not to mention the havoc student loan debt is going to wreak on retirement savings.) Why not later in life, as well? Move in with some buddies, play checkers, grow roses, reminisce about Nickelodeon's mid-1990s lineup without having to explain Salute Your Shorts to your bored descendants.
Not that this arrangements is without its pitfalls. It means readjusting to shared space, and sometimes roommates just don't work out:
"If I left something on the counter, it was like I had left something on hercounter," and the housemate got rid of utensils she thought were unnecessary, said Moore, 69, who has rented out rooms in her five-bedroom house in Bowie, Md., for about five years. "She threw out things that she thought were trash but to me were important."
But, on the bright side, once you've landed on the right assortment you'll have plenty of company for late-night cheesecake. Thank you for being a friend!
Photo via AP Images.