Carla Fried: The case for a retirement roommate

By Carla Fried, on

Published in Business News

Getting older often means living alone.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than 40% of people at least age 65 live alone, and 57% of people in their 80s live alone.

At the same time, atop nearly every list of retirement worries is this one: running out of money.

For open-minded seniors living on their own, adding a roommate, or becoming the roommate, can be a savvy move. Sure, just like in your 20s, you don't want the roommate from hell. But come on, by now you know what you like and don't like. Your vetting skills are sharp. And perhaps you already have a network of friends who might be up for considering the move, or for helping you find a good match.

The math is compelling. The average monthly Social Security check in 2020 is around $1,500. Sharing the rent, or the carrying costs for a home that one of you owns, becomes a whole lot easier on two checks.

Or maybe you're a suburban empty nester itching to live in the city, yet don't think you have the retirement income to make the move. Might sharing city rent make it doable?


Sharing housing costs can free up money to add in supportive services. A housekeeper a few times a month can be especially valued later in life. Or someone to do the heavy weeding in your garden.

Or perhaps sharing housing costs is what makes it possible to live bigger. More travel (remember travel?). More of whatever floats your boat: sporting events, theater, concerts. In your 20s, a roommate may have been a necessity. In your 60s, 70s and beyond, it has the potential to give you the flexibility to live the life you want.

And if you find a mutually agreeable pairing, you've also taken a big step in warding off one of the biggest risks for the elderly: social isolation. Hopefully we never again encounter the isolation that has been necessary during the coronavirus pandemic, but for those single people who have a roommate the strain hopefully has been less acute.

OK, on to logistics.


swipe to next page
(c)2020 News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.