If you’re a single baby boomer, here is a look from Amy Leap of the Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, at a few others just like you … and how many of you there are, and how you’re making it work.
The popular 1980s sitcom — “The Golden Girls” — is becoming a real life scenario for single female baby boomers.
Single older women are embracing the concept of home sharing as a way to afford a home, having greater financial stability and if they are fortunate, creating lasting friendships.
Unmarried female boomers face greater economic, health and social vulnerabilities, said I-Fen Lin, Center of Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
“What we found is one in three baby boomers was unmarried and the vast majority of them were either divorced or never married,” Lin said.
The ongoing economic decline has made early retirement a fantasy for many.
“Given the number of baby boomers now moving toward retirement along with statistics that show women typically live longer than men, the report predicts the trend is likely to continue to grow,” she said.
With housing values and savings eroding significantly, “many boomers may have a smaller nest egg than they had envisioned,” Lin said.
Today, shared households make up 18 percent of U.S. households. This reflects a 17 percent increase since 2007, according to AARP.
What’s out there
Although Sarah Cramer, a Realtor with Realty Executives in Stroudsburg, hasn’t had any clients who were looking for shared living, she does have a listing that would be perfect for several women.
The house is centrally located in downtown Stroudsburg within walking distance to stores, has three full floors, including six bedrooms with the largest one 18 by 15 feet and the smallest 14 by 11 feet.
“It nice because there isn’t just one master bedroom. Several of the bedrooms are the size of a master bedroom,” she said.
New home sharing services such as Housemates Match and Golden Girl Homes Inc. have sprung up in every state in an effort to help singles to connect with perspective housemates.
Although the trend is predominately in urban areas, AARP reports the number of single baby boomer females has doubled since 2010 and is now more than 2 million.
AARP predicted the need for shared housing will expand beyond the urban areas.
Three baby boomers now living together near Pittsburgh have become AARP’s example of how shared housing can be successful.
The three women managed to merge their furniture, wine glasses, china and book collections — not to mention personalities — to live together and remain friends.
Jean McQuillin, Louise Machinist and Karen Bush are all are divorced, in their early 50s and have professional full-time jobs.
They met at church and created what they call a “cooperative household.”
“It made amazing economic sense,” McQuillin said.
Each woman has her own bedroom and bathroom, but they share the common areas of the house, chores and expenses.
“We are all really busy. We’re hardly ever all here at the same time,” Machinist said.
When the trio is home together, sometimes they throw parties, play games and dote on their shared house cat.
Before they moved in, an attorney drew up a legal agreement, addressing issues such as: how long visitors can stay, what if a housemate wants to sell or leave, and what happens if someone passes away?
“On some level you have to share values in order to make things work,” Bush said.
One final piece of advice from three women is to have criminal and credit checks run on any potential housemates, before signing a contract.