Married … with children – or without – is still the all-American way. However, the share of adults who cohabitate has more than doubled since 1993, to 7% from 3%, according to research from the Pew Research Center’s analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth.
The number of 50-plus cohabiters has grown by 75% since 2007, Pew found, which brings up a modern retirement dynamic: older Americans seeking companionship, mutual care and, in some cases, a less expensive living situation.
According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, by 2035, 11.5 million households will be headed by renters 65 and older – an increase of 80% vs. today.
So, how do you find the right roommate? There are many things to consider beyond, “Hey, we just get along …” Ponder these:
Politics or religion – Before moving in, discuss your viewpoints. His views or her faith could be a thorny issue. No one wants to deal with monthly, weekly, daily angst over an opinion.
Netflix and chill – When R&R is on the agenda, are you more likely to grab a book and get lost on the couch? Does your prospective roomie prefer to have people over, which definitely will cut into your chill time?
Mo’ money – Bills are due each month, so … how will expenses be divided? Also, there are communal items – toilet paper, paper towels, etc. – and how these are paid for is a topic for discussion.
OK, so you have checked the boxes and its full steam ahead toward cohabitation. Now what?
Get an agreement in writing for rent and utilities. Set due dates (and conditions for late fees). Also plan for the worst-case scenario; set termination terms. Inside the home there are daily chores – dishes, trash – and everyone should be in agreement on responsibilities.
And if this is not a friends-with-benefits arrangement, will overnight guests be a thing? If it’s a group of friends living together, how will decisions be made – the homeowner has final say or majority vote?
If there is trepidation regarding having a roommate (or plural), try a trial period – two weeks. If it’s an unworkable situation, either party can bow out gracefully.
Otherwise, a sense of community will be necessary for all parties to get comfortable with their surroundings. Try weekly meals, movie nights, shopping excursions – do “together” things. When conflicts arise (and they will!), the discussion will be between friends rather than just people living together trying to get along.