There are many advantages to having a housemate: Defraying expenses. Sharing household chores. Help with transportation. Companionship. Increased safety. Peace of mind. In a survey of older adults who shared their homes, 50% said that since gaining a housemate, they are happier, sleep better, are getting out more, and they call upon their families less for help. Homesharing is a viable option for aging in place.
If this is a path you’re exploring, here are some tips for success:
- Identify what’s motivating you. Most people do it for monetary reasons or to get some help with simple chores or transportation. Companionship is another benefit. Be sure your expectations are realistic and are shared by the housemate you choose.
- Know yourself. Having people in what’s been “your space” can bring up a lot of feelings. Think carefully about what might be inviolate in the shared rooms and what you can be flexible about.
- Consider a homeshare service. Many local governments realize the benefits. They help with the matching process and can provide background checks, sample agreements, even mediation if things aren’t going well. Check out national matching services such as Silvernest.com and Nesterly.com.
- Be very candid during the interview process. Honesty is essential in talks before you seal a deal. Take the time, perhaps over several conversations, to share lifestyle habits and expectations. Everything from smoking, pets and hobbies, to overnight guests, refrigerator sharing, and sleep schedules. It’s easier to identify incompatibility and look further to find a better fit than to undo an arrangement once the furniture has been moved in.
- Write an agreement. At a minimum, describe what private space is being offered (bedroom, bathroom) and what is or isn’t shared in the common area (kitchen, yard, washing machine and dryer, hot tub or sauna…). Detail the rent, when it’s due, and how it will be collected. Also spell out what bills are covered, due dates, and tasks that might be exchanged for rent. Be as specific and thorough as possible so your arrangement doesn’t depend on two people remembering the same verbal agreement.
- Provide for a trial period. This allows for a relatively easy ending if it’s not working out. Consider two weeks. If you aren’t comfortable, it’s worth the wait to find a good match. At the same time, be realistic. Even a great housemate will have quirks that you don’t like. Be flexible when you can.
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