Senior Resources » Shared Housing

Shared Housing

two senior women who live in a shared housing situation drinking coffee together at the kitchen table

If you're a senior or retiree living on your own, shared housing could be the ideal option to explore! By sharing a home with fellow community members, you can alleviate financial burdens, enjoy companionship, and focus on living life to the fullest. Discover the benefits of shared housing and how it can enhance your retirement experience.

Why choose shared housing?

A 65-year-old divorcee finds herself embarking on a new chapter of life. After decades of living with a partner, she takes the courageous step of living on her own, seeking solace and independence. Little did she know that this decision would lead to a beautiful connection and the birth of an incredible friendship.

Through their shared connection at their church, she decides to open her home to a fellow acquaintance who is navigating a similar path. Both women, in their twilight years and experiencing newfound freedom, decide to rent a room together. Splitting the rent and household responsibilities, they not only alleviate financial burdens but also create an environment of shared support and companionship.

What began as a practical arrangement soon blossomed into something extraordinary. As they tackle household chores side by side, they find solace in each other's company and a deep understanding of their unique situations. Their shared experiences of starting afresh, rediscovering independence, and overcoming obstacles become the building blocks of an unbreakable bond.

What about shared housing with a younger generation?

John can no longer drive and often forgets to take his evening medication. However, he doesn't want to give up his independent lifestyle and is unable to afford home care services. That's when he discovers the perfect solution – a home share program.

John reaches out to the program and is thrilled to be paired with Sarah, a college senior seeking affordable housing. In exchange for a free bedroom, Sarah is more than willing to provide everyday assistance to John. From reminding him to take his medication to running errands and offering companionship, Sarah becomes a valuable support system in John's life.

If these two stories didn't already convince you, then you'll want to read what comes next. Here's everything you need to know about shared housing for seniors.

What is Shared Housing for Seniors?

Shared housing is when two or more people share a living space for mutual benefit. There's usually a “head-tenant,” the owner or renter of a property, and a “sub-tenant,” who moves in after agreeing to terms and conditions, which often includes rent and housework.

The terms of each home share agreement are unique! Terms depend on personal needs, preferences, and financial situations. While no two circumstances are exactly the same, shared housing is largely just people helping people.

Benefits of Shared Housing for Seniors

two seniors smiling at each other

Shared housing for seniors offers a vibrant and supportive living option that embraces companionship, affordability, and a sense of community. It's an arrangement where seniors come together to share a living space, creating a unique and fulfilling lifestyle. Here are some key benefits of home sharing:

  • Companionship and Social Connections - Shared housing provides an opportunity for seniors to form meaningful relationships and combat feelings of isolation. With a roommate or housemate, there's always someone to share stories, laughter, and support.
  • Financial Stability - Sharing costs, such as rent, utilities, and groceries, helps seniors manage their finances more effectively. By splitting these expenses, you can stretch your retirement income further and enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle.
  • Practical Assistance - In a shared housing arrangement, roomates often help one another with daily tasks and responsibilities. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or running errands, having a supportive network within the home ensures that everyone's needs are met.
  • Emotional Well-being - Living in a shared housing environment can contribute to improved mental and emotional well-being. The presence of caring companions can reduce stress levels, increase happiness, and create a warm and comforting atmosphere.
  • Sustainable Living - Shared housing promotes sustainable living by encouraging resource-sharing and reducing individual carbon footprints. Retirees and roomates can work together to conserve energy, minimize waste, and contribute to a greener future.

How to Find a Shared Housing Opportunity as a Senior or Retiree

senior friends

Once you’ve decided that shared housing is for you, explore your options!

During your search, keep in mind compatibility and safety. Seek out people with similar interests, lifestyles, and values to ensure a harmonious living environment. Also, include a loved one in your search so that someone close to you is always aware of what you're doing, who you're talking with, and where you are.

Here are some common ways to find shared housing opportunities:

  • Senior Living Communities - Many senior living communities offer the option of finding a roommate to share an apartment or living space. This can be an excellent opportunity to enjoy the mutual benefits of companionship and cost-sharing. Check with local senior living communities in your area to explore this option.
  • Co-housing and Intergenerational Communities - Co-housing communities and intergenerational living arrangements are gaining popularity among seniors. These communities promote social interaction, shared resources, and a sense of belonging. Explore options like co-housing and intergenerational communities to find the perfect shared housing arrangement.
  • Local Housing Resources - Don't forget to tap into local housing resources such as senior centers, libraries, churches, synagogues, and community organizations. They often have information about shared housing opportunities and can connect you with potential roommates or programs.
  • Senior Resource - We have a directory for shared housing (it's at the bottom of this page)!

When You Find a Shared Housing Opportunity

older woman and younger woman sitting on the couch talking

After you find a potential candidate (or two, or three…) it’s a good idea to set up an interview and home visit - after all, you wouldn’t want to share space with someone whose personality isn't for you. This is also the time to discuss expectations for each party. Many seniors find it helpful and safer to conduct background and credit checks. Services like can assist easily at a minimal cost.

The Home Share Agreement

writing and agreeement

Once you’ve found your ideal housemate, the final step is to draft a home-share agreement. This should be a written document that states all duties and responsibilities of each individual. It can be as brief or detailed as you like. But, a typical agreement will include rent and utility payments, household duties, guest and pet policies, kitchen use and food sharing, internet use, and privacy.

Shared housing agreements are flexible and customizable to meet the unique needs and preferences of each person. When drawing up your agreement, consider the following factors:

  • Household Responsibilities - Agree upon shared responsibilities, such as chores, maintenance, and household rules, to maintain a clean and organized space.
  • Privacy and Personal Space - Establish boundaries and respect each other's need for privacy and personal space within the shared living arrangement.
  • Clear Communication - Maintain open and honest communication to address any concerns or conflicts that may arise, fostering a supportive and respectful atmosphere.

Read More About Shared Housing

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Living on a fixed income during retirement can be tough, especially when unexpected expenses arise. What happens when medical bills or rent become too much to handle? Don't panic! You have options. Check out these 5 insider tips to find affordable senior housing or get help paying your mortgage.

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