Senior House Sharing Is on the Rise

Women having tea in kitchen

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Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia. Do these names sound familiar? They’re the characters from the hit TV comedy The Golden Girls whose adventures we enjoyed 30 years ago. Well, the time for older women (and men) to share a house with roommates has come again, but this time in real life.

According to projections by the Joint Center for Housing Studies, the number of people over the age of 75 living alone is set to nearly double—from 6.9 million in 2015 to 13.4 million in 2035. Many seniors will have limited financial resources for housing, and women will make up nearly 75 percent of this group.

That’s just one reason why house sharing among older people is on the rise.

The Upside to Having a Housemate

The biggest advantage to house sharing is cost-sharing. If you have one housemate paying half of your rent or 50 percent of the costs of home ownership, your Social Security check will go that much further. Likewise, if your rent is getting too high, you can opt to move into someone else’s house. But besides cost sharing, there are other benefits, too.

Help. If you need help at home as well as extra income, you can opt for a bartering arrangement— reduced rent for services provided by a roommate, such as yard work, shopping or transportation. If you’re healthy and fit, you can take advantage of this type of low-rent arrangement.

Companionship. Whether you’re sharing your own house or moving into someone else’s, house sharing can decrease your cost of living; it can also help you guard against loneliness. It’s nice to come home, open the door and have someone say, ‘How was your day?’ Even if roommates are off in their rooms, you know that someone else is in the house or will be walking in the door soon. Each living situation is different, and sharing runs the gamut from housemates who become friends and socialize to others who have more of a landlord-tenant relationship. It depends on personal preferences, daily schedules and personalities. But even more distant roomies usually tend to get together for a potluck meal on a fairly regular basis.

Health & Safety. We laugh at the TV commercial, but living with a roommate can mitigate the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” scenario. Roommates not only help each other through medical crises, they also notice smaller physical changes in each other and can step up. Debra DeWitz, a retired social worker who has several roommates, calls it “sharegiving,” that extra support that roommates naturally give each other, often in ways they couldn’t anticipate when they first met.

How to Find a Housemate

It can take anywhere from a month to two or three to find a housemate, depending on how flexible you’re willing to be with your personal criteria and geographic radii.

Here are two sites that match older people who want to share.

Senior HomeShares

This is a national, free online matching database. Founder and CEO Stephanie Heacox realized the need for her service several years ago when she and her sisters were long-distance caregivers for their mother who could no longer live alone.

Launched in 2015, the site currently has more than 600 members ranging in age from their 50s through early 90s, with the majority in their mid to late 60s. The site’s users are 60 percent women and 40 percent men.

The business uses a matching system modeled on online dating sites. Plus, it offers some user-friendly features to help those who are not experienced or comfortable searching for a roommate online, including the option to add a “helper” for your account—a family member or friend who becomes a co-user and can assist in filling out the profile, and who you can designate to receive copies of all “match” emails. Customer service is by phone, email and/or live chat, and is staffed by people 55 and older.


This newcomer charges a fee to homeowners (renters can use the service too), but your search is free if you’re looking to move into someone’s house. Like Senior HomeShares, the site uses a matching tool to find compatible housemates. The service verifies users by checking ID and for homeowners, it will provide background checks of potential housemates (people looking to rent a room pay a fee for a background check if the homeowner requests one). Silvernest can also draw up leases and collect rents. Because the service is fairly new, it hasn’t expanded across the country yet. Top locations are in Colorado, California and Florida.

Regional Homeshare Programs

Some local programs exist  that do all the heavy-lifting for you. An example is HomeShareVermont that’s been in business since 1982. The nonprofit charges a one-time match fee ranging from $60 to $500, based on income. After you submit your application, the program’s staff interview you in person, do five background checks, find potential matches and help both parties with a Match Agreement. The program offers continuing support if issues arise.

What Makes for a Good Match?

Successful roommates are flexible and willing to compromise. Being able to discuss issues, large or small, is key. Keeping a positive attitude and starting from the mindset that “this is going to work” encourages smooth living arrangements.

On the flip side, not everybody is fun to live with, Heacox says. You might run into a few interpersonal issues with roommates and ask a roommate who isn’t working out to move…like a roommate who decides to rearrange the kitchen and clean out the drawers.

And while companionship is often a big plus of house sharing, friendship with roommates can become a bit murky.

Explore More Resources

The National Shared Housing Resource Center is a clearinghouse that provides information, referrals to local agencies, programs and guidelines on finding a housemate. The site offers a book, “Consumer’s Guide to Home Sharing” ($10). A written manual and guide for house sharers are also available for purchase.

This AARP article has two helpful sidebars: “What to Look for in a Housemate” and “Home Sharing Do’s and Dont’s.”

Nolo, a DIY legal site, has an article with an overview about how homeshare programs work, the benefits and how to find them.

Common sense procedures for online safety during a roommate search are available via Senior HomeShares here.

Reminder:  Senior Planet’s policy is not to publish or share commenters emails for any reason, even if requested. Please register/use the resources listed in the article to find roommates, not the comments section. 


47 responses to “Senior House Sharing Is on the Rise

  1. Hi I am 61years old have lost my partner. I have a huge clean home and would love to find a senior lady to share my home with, maybe even room and board for very lite house work. I really just hate living alone I live in north central kansas in a country setting. Peaceful and safe, you would have your own every thing, let’s talk.

    1. Hi, my name is Barb/Barbara. I answer to both. I’m just learning about senior homesharing, and the more i read, the more i think this is for me. I’m 66, still way more active than most people 10 years younger than me. I live in Texas. My husband died 10 years ago, and at first i enjoyed my personal freedom. Lately, I have been liking it less and less every day. I was telling my daughter a few days ago that i would love to find some of the many relatives i have, but never met, and Kansas is where many are. Some things about me: i am a cancer survivor, a scuba diver, i love the outdoors, like to be barefoot, non-smoker, non-drinker, and i have a dog named Luna. I still mow my own yard, trim trees, rake leaves, and I’m almost finished painting the outside of my house so i can put it on the market. I moved to a small town 5 years ago and so many people have moved here, its getting too crowded too quickly.

  2. I am looking for a housemate. I am a 84 year old widowed male. Live on a lake in upstate New York State. Been living alone for 6 years and don’t like it. Have an upstairs that has a small room that could be your bedroom and a larger room that could be your living room. Also has a bathroom. The house would be totally available to you. Help would be needed to keep the house. Rent could be worked out.

  3. I have a home in Woodstock, Illinois. It is “A Little Bit of Heaven on 4 acres. LOvely, huge oak trees, a pond and Knippersink Creek running through it. The home is large and one could have a very large bedroom with loads of closet space and storage, a private bath, and a very large family room, as well as the rest of the home to share.
    If you are interested and have questions just ask.

  4. Hi Nick Name Smitty I am 81 years of age and looking for someone to share my home with. I live in Oklahoma, small town in N. E. corner of state near Grand Lake prefer elderly person, Was married for 45 years don’t like living alone not used to it. If interested E- Mail me lets talk

  5. We are two golden girls in northern Virginia looking for a third of even 4th roommate (women, over 63). However, we want people with pets. Please see our profile on senior homeshare. Loved to hear from those interested. For safety sake, we would like you to consider a background check on us and vice versa.

    1. Hi Ann,
      i looked at senior homeshare but didn’t see your profile. I am a golden girl too. It would be great if you could respond here and maybe we can track each other down.

    2. Hey Ann, I’m Lou i’am a woman and I’m looking for a place for me and my pet chihuahua, I live alone and it would be wonderful to have someone to talk to, I’m 70 years young and I’m capable of doing most anything, I’m permanently disabled I got my back hurt on the job in 2005 but that doesn’t keep me from doing anything I want. Ann I’m really in need of a place to live I live on a fixed income which isn’t much but I get by thank you Lou Langston

    1. Senior Planet does not offer house sharing services. Please check the information and links in the article. Also please do not include your contact information or personal information in your comments.

      1. Yes I am interested in homeshare, I’m looking to move in a week, so I would need a space that would be available in this time frame. In the Roanoke VA area. Thank you.

      2. Do you realize it appears “golden girl network” is NO longer operational??? Read the FB posts…. People are joinibg via paypal and there is NO response from this now DEFUNCT web site noted in this now outdated article!!!!!

      3. If seniorplanet restricts personal information sharing, how on earth does it function to unite multiple seniors who want to share a house with 3-4 other seniors? This sounds like a scam.

      4. No scam by Senior Planet; we don’t operate a home-sharing service. If you recheck the article you’ll see that all the services listed are independent of Senior Planet and offered only as a service to readers and is not an endorsement. Senior Planet urges everyone to do due diligence before committing or signing anything. To repeat,Senior Planet does not operate any house sharing services.

  6. Hi im AJ in michigan,the housing cost in town is crazy.northern mi,if you are retired or on disability you can not afford the cost of a nice place.Then when you are up front about being a lesbian, you hear im not that way.Or I hear im looking for someone my age.The low income housing list,Been on it for over a yr.It would be nice to live with other lesbians or gay friendly roommates,instead of this ones gayer then the last one.Rent was set at amount and all utilities included.The I was moving in(boxes in hand,movers just left).landlord says you dont mind paying for cable?will how much is it?It would be 50.00 more each month.I said no! Now I have bigger ploblem the the roommate.not two months into this,now I’m to pay utilities also.needing to move in traverse city mi.This is a great placeto try and find nicer place.AJ

    1. Sexual preference is not a choice: Geneticists just haven’t spent time or funds to research to study which genes result in one being LGBT or heterosexual. Your comments sound like you’ve lived with a bunch of idiots who can’t see that we are all PEOPLE first then gender. When you free yourself from your labels that all the ignorant idiots find necessary to use as an excuse to be bigoted, you’ll hopefully find inner peace. I’m straight but who cares. I’m just an ol’ Hippie who wants to live in a peaceful house with multiple educated humans as inexpensively as possible. Peace Out.

  7. I am an 86-year-old woman in good health and living in my home on Long Island in Mineola for 55 years. Losing my husband six years ago has been tough and I think that it’s time for me to have some more companionship here in my home. I am willing to except a companion with for low monthly rent. Naturally it would need to be the right person for this to work out. If you have any interest in sharing my home please let me know.

    1. Hello Ms Citro,
      Just came accross your message…as I am looking for a room in New York to move back to
      Actually living in Florida, I am 75 years old, I work a couple days a week in retail.
      I would like to know if you actually need someone to share your space with?
      Willing to provide you all types of information about me if you’re interested
      My name is Gigi

    1. Sorry, but Senior Planet doesn’t offer this service or make the connection you ask. Please use the resources in the article, and good luck.
      the editors
      PS Never list your phone number on an open website.

      1. Hi my name is Maria I am 62 i grew up in Greece with good values. I live in adult gated community I have my house for sale with a partner And I am looking by my self to move to NY because my daughter lives there with my grandchildren so I can be closer to them and see them more often.

  8. I’m a retired born & bred NYC business woman- writer for Rolls-Royce-
    advertising & marketing for NY Metro + Recruitment advertising for Clinical Trials-Yale, Robt Wood
    Johnson female studies & more).
    Spent close to fifteen years retired & enjoying life
    in the Carolinas & just came back up to New York/Ct to live. Looking for a place-preferably
    in NYC, Westchester or early-in Connecticut to share & though not as much money as I had-
    there are considerable financial perks for right situation.

    I’m a senior in my 70’s & hope to find those interested/interesting seniors out there with
    some space in your home/apartment you’d like to rent out.

    Not sure how this works to get a reply- but I’d love them.

    Thank you.

  9. Hi I live in Los Angels Ca. is there a senior planet here, that I could get contact with?
    I am a senior citizen, 70 years old, I live on Social Security, and still work as a caregiver.
    where I am at now , renting room, the family is renovating the house, and may sell.
    so I need a place soon.

    1. Aru an I’ve lived in Florida for 3 years would love toovr back
      Single and 57.I would live to share your home witj you. I’m in Indiana on a job transfer from FL. Would love the compamioship was marride 35 years. Thank you
      Being alone no fun

    2. Hi I’m Dian Currently living in Arizona wanting to return to CA to be near grandkids. I prefer the Long Beach to Orange County area. My vision is to find a nice home with some senior ladies and share household expenses and chores. I enjoy gardening and cooking and I work at home part time. I prefer to have roommates so we could afford a nice place to spend our golden years in. I also have friendly cats and dogs and I’m diligent about cleaning up after them. Get in touch if your interested !

      1. Hi need companion for wife 77 moble but need help with brace daily . home is on golf course. Private room has back door. 50 in tv. king bed. car. 100 rose trees. grass as far as the eye can . on avi property with movie, gamblig eating 100 yd away. I am 85 and travel good health and t avel and live in canada. Deal of the century free rent salary car food travel

  10. Is anyone interested in living in Land O Lakes, Florida?
    I am looking for three seniors retired to share my Four Bedrooms home.
    It is located in a very nice and safe gated community.
    Breathtaking view,

  11. You go girlI live in Ohio and would love to move to the Carolina . I still work part time in a business I have owned for 40+ years as a designer and run my own drapery and upholstery workroom.use to golf 6 days a week and would like to start up again. I would need a work room that would accompany my sewing machines, because I love doing what I do

  12. For those who are happy living privately, house sharing would be more difficult. It would require clear communication and a private area. However, for those who wish to have a small group of friends that they can count on, this could be a miracle.
    Every time I watch Golden Girls, I wish that I could be part of them. I currently am 52 and represent Dorothy, the exception being that I’m still married to Stanley, who is slowly dying in front of me. My mother is so used to enjoying being alone, so I never know if I’m invading her privacy.
    I would love to one day know that I’m living with others who don’t want to be alone, but want to support one another, go out to dinner, go with each other to doctor appointments etc. And I’m incredibly happy to know I’m not alone in these thoughts!

    1. Thought I would give home sharing a try – absolutely hate it as it is more of a rental with shared common areas (kitchen, living room) – have 2nd story where the stairs are too steep. The home was advertised as NO SMOKING upon moving in after a couple of days I discovered the homeowner “smokes like a fiend” and now the smoke is drifting into my space every moment. My clothing has the smell of smoke, as does my hair and other belongings. Imagine taking shower only to dry yourself off with a clean towel that has a lingering smoke odor. Additionally, they keep the heat well below the minimum required per state regulation, constantly leave the kitchen counter greasy or cook so the smell comes up to my area (think of the greasy spoon type of diner); always dirty pots/pan, etc in sink when I go to cook.. Amazing how folks put on the so-called good behavior for the sake of the almighty dollar and then relapse into their standard, routine habits. Very difficult to find something during the holiday season and feel that my money is being terribly wasted for something I certainly did not expect. Have been looking 24/7 to no avail – some that I checked has criminal past or police records – NO THANK YOU! I’ve some to the conclusion that homesharing is not something that works – I’d much rather a dog for companionship & friendship (who was cleaner than where I am now). If I had the money I would go to an extended stay hotel. Plenty of other problems as well – informed weeks after moving in the homeowner needed to put vermin traps in attic area as they heard vermin crawling around (now we are talking health/safety violations). I strongly urge anyone thinking of homesharing think again – make sure you do a thorough background, maybe even an investigator, meet the homeowner’s family/friends BEFORE you move in; make sure any written documents are reviewed BY YOUR ATTORNEY and that it has an escape clause. Too many creeps out there.

  13. Another resource available is my book, Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates., which is on Amazon and here: Our website is full of information – but I think that the most valuable are the interviews with people who are living in shared housing.

    It’s really hard to imagine leaving the privacy of living alone to living with other people. I get that. What does it take to actually try it out?
    There are so many excellent reasons for doing it. I believe that by having the companionship of a “home-mate” life can be better, safer and happier. Really.

  14. I am planning to start a community home just for ladies (for now) in South Carolina for people who are hopeful about the anti-aging technologies that are now in experimental stages. Please reply if you may be interested. No cats.

    1. I am very interested in the concept. I live in Charleston SC in a rental home for the last 10 years.

      The owner wishes to sell. Since my income is limited to social security, my only option is to move into low income senior housing, or by miracle to equally share a home with one or few other seniors in SC, ideally in the lowcountry or other. I currently live on James Island near the senior center.
      PS. Since my husband died in 2011, in order to make ends meet, I have rented my furnished second bedroom and bath occasionally to single women of all ages including retirees as a transitional place while they are relocating to Charleston.
      But now, I have to plan on moving by the end of my lease in the Fall or so.

      If I can assist in any way in developing a place that you are proposing, count on me.

      I have an extensive business background in event coordination, public relations, marketing and advertising, organization, strategizing for new small businesses, along with skills as a journalist, artist, and publicist.

      Please keep in touch. Good luck in your establishing your organization. I would like to join your efforts in South Carolina.
      Thank you.

      1. Hi Diane,
        I’m not sure how old these posts are, but I sure hope someone is around and can get back with me. I would love to get involved with a senior home share program. I lived in a home share with a 97 yr old woman in Michigan for the past 4 years it was a wonderful situation. Unfortunately she past in March 2020 and I moved here to be closer to my family. I’m staying with my son and daughter in-law in Murrells Inlet I drive 2 hours to work in Charleston. I’m looking for an affordable home share in the Charleston area.
        Michigan has a home share program there that was started over 30 years ago and is still going really good. It would be a blessing for many people if one could be started here in South Carolina. I would be willing to help just let me know. Thanks Lynn

      1. I am looking for a place in the Charleston SC area. I am a 57 year old female no pets, very quiet, clean and working in the Charleston area. Has anyone here found any shares? If anyone knows of any recourses in the area please let me know. Thank you, Lynn

    2. Hi Sherry,
      I am very interested in your community home or sharing a home with other seniors. I am looking for a place in the Charleston SC area. How is it going for you? If anyone knows of any recourses in the area please let me know. Thank you, Lynn

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