More and more seniors are looking for a financially viable way to retain their independence as long as possible. Co-living is a promising solution, which means finding the right housemate for you. Here are a few tips to help, taken from an article in the July/August 2020 edition of NAR’s senior newsletter.
Don’t limit yourself to only looking for other seniors to be your housemate. College students are often looking for co-living situations as well, so such an arrangement could be mutually beneficial. You may look for other types of individuals that are not usually home, such as business professionals or frequent travellers. It’s okay if you and your housemate have differences. Learn to appreciate those differences and enjoy your time together.
Make sure they aren’t too different, though. Take the usual precautions to determine whether you and your housemate are compatible, such as shared interests, lifestyle, and privacy expectations. You and your housemate should complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Your safety is also important — meet first in a public place, have friends with you, get references and maybe even a background check or credit check.
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Currently, people age 50 or older account for 63% of homeowners nationwide. Three quarters of them live in single-family homes and 76% own their own homes. Increases in both population and longevity mean that the percent of homeowners in their 70s, 80s, and 90s is increasing. Trends among those over 65 reveal some of the problems with these growing statistics.
A support structure unprepared for these rising numbers of seniors begets homeowners unprepared for retirement and housing costs, as they are unable to manage both healthcare costs and housing costs without a steady income. And more of them over 65 still have a mortgage after retirement, a statistic which nearly doubled from 1989 to 2016. A similar statistic holds for loan-to-value ratios, doubling to 51% for those age 50-64 and tripling to 39% for those 65 and over. The average home equity amount was $143,500. These values originate from what were at the time low interest rates and recently popularized home equity loans.
Social Security is going to be an important factor in enabling seniors to acquire safe, accessible, and affordable housing, since it is a main source of income for many of them. In 2016, 9.7 million of those over 65, nearly a third, were spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs, and 4.9 million were spending over half.