Sharing your home with a second or third person can be a win-win situation for all parties. We look at the pros and cons and how to go about finding the most suitable person to share with.
There has been a large increase in the number of people in their 50s and older looking to rent in a share house.
This doesn’t come as a surprise in these uncertain times when people living on their own may want to change their situation because of loneliness, or in order to save money. If you own your home, and your house or apartment has extra space, then inviting somebody to share your place has certain benefits you should consider.
People can be living alone due to separation, never being married or having a partner in the first place, or being widowed.
A lonely living situation can lead to depression and lack of motivation. Shared living can be part of the solution.
Share houses have become particularly appealing to women over 50. According to the National Centre for Family Marriage Research, more than one-third of women aged 65 and above live alone due to divorce. Women are seeking out flatmates in the same age range to share a home, occasionally a meal, and gain some companionship that could maybe someday turn into a friendship.
Living by yourself is not only lonely but can end up being quite expensive. Rising house prices have left only 31 per cent of people owning their homes outright, which is the lowest number in 70 years.
Sharing can be a godsend for all parties. If it is your house, then you will receive an income from it. In addition to being your home, it also becomes an investment. In addition to the rental, you may also get some savings because you would share some of the expenses such as electricity and garden maintenance.
For the person sharing with you, the financial advantages are similar – they may not be able to afford a suitable place on their own, and will also gain from shared expenses.
Rent prices seem to be increasing in these unprecedented times, making downsizing through sharing an even more appealing option. In fact, according to a recent survey, 52 per cent of people looking to rent can’t afford to do so on their own.
Finding the Right Person
However, although sharing is an opportunity to make a new friend and get some dollar savings if you get the wrong person to share with, the whole thing could become a disaster. Finding that balance between having your own space and allowing yourself to be in a greater financial position hinges on finding the right person. The main options you have are using word of mouth or going online to find that perfect sharing tenant.
Using your existing network of friends and acquaintances has the advantage that you and the sharer are likely to have some common interests and friends because you move in the same friendship groups. The downside is that using your network to find the right person can be a very, very slow process. You also run the risk of maybe having to reject a friend as a sharer, and that would not sit well for your future relationship.
Online avenues to find a sharer are quicker than networking, but they do have their own drawbacks. Most flatshare sites and information is catered towards students and young professionals. This leaves you with the risk of sharing a home with someone who is still grappling with basic issues like the concept of washing up after dinner.
However, there are options for over 50s to make sure you end up sharing a house with someone of quality and with the same standards as yourself in terms of hygiene and social behaviour.
When visiting a sharing website to find a potential housemate or flatmate, make sure to take full advantage of the filters available on the site. Filters usually include gender, price range, location, age, and even interests.
The age bracket filter is the most important feature to use. It will help you find someone that understands the responsibility of sharing a house and someone who will laugh at your jokes!
You can even specify what things you would like to share in your house. This will come in handy when you don’t want to compromise your precious garden, or if you want to show off your cooking skills and make a meal for the whole household.
Another way to avoid conflict with your future housemate is to meet up with them beforehand for a cup of coffee or a meal. It’s important to see if you get along with their personality type before living with them. Some seniors might still be active professionals or retired, and some may love to wake up at 6 am for a run, others may love a quiet lie-in. As with all relationships, you have to see if you complement each other so that both of you benefit from the situation.
Sharing a house can be daunting, especially if you are used to having your own space. But it may be the answer to opening up a whole new world of possibilities financially, mentally, and with your friendships.
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide