Thank You for Being a Friend: Living with a Roommate in Retirement

Your college days with your roommate were wild and fun, and you wouldn’t trade them for the world. But going back to living with a roommate at this point in your life is a non-starter. But before you veto the idea, consider the advantages. There are actually a lot of benefits to having a roommate during retirement!

Roommates are good company.

Even if you have an active social life, getting a roommate after you retire can give you some much-needed company. That’s especially true if you’re divorced or if your spouse has passed away. Make sure you consider both of your communication styles. An extrovert and an introvert can live together -- but they need to be honest and let each other know what works. 

You'll appreciate help with the mortgage on a fixed income.

Most retirees are getting used to living on a fixed income, so getting help with your mortgage or rent can be a welcome addition to your bottom line. Not only will it give you a cushion, you’ll have a little extra to take vacations and spoil your grandkids.

Roommates don't have to be your age.

When you read this article title, your mind probably immediately went to “Golden Girls”. But you don’t necessarily have to live with someone who’s the same age when you rent. There are even whole programs in the Netherlands that encourage college students to live with nursing home residents. As long as you’re compatible and have a written agreement about what’s acceptable and what’s not age shouldn’t really be an issue--there are good and bad roommates of all ages.

Living with someone is safer than living alone. 

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! Yeah, yeah, it’s a cheesy commercial, but it can be a serious problem. A roommate means there will be someone there to make sure you can get up. You'll also have an extra safety net if something happens to you on your way home. A good roommate will notice you didn’t come home and contact family or the police to figure out what happened.

Outlining the rules can prevent misunderstanding and heartache.

If there’s one thing we love when we talk about renters, it’s having rules and getting them in writing (okay two things). You’ll want to think of the standard rules, like whether or not they can smoke in the house. But you might have some other concerns as you age, too. Will grandkids be allowed to stay overnight? How about romantic partners? Who pays for upgrades to help both of you age comfortably in your home? Will you shop for groceries together or keep separate food? Who gets the garage if it's raining?

What makes a good roommate? That answer is different for everyone. Living with someone can be great, as long as you consider your needs and theirs before you decide. Pick the right one, and you could be enjoying cocktails on your shared lanai before you know it!