Empty-nesting is hard, especially for older folks who live alone. Not only can it be isolating and lonely, but plenty of older homeowners find the daily tasks and chores of maintaining a house burdensome.
On the other side of the age and housing dilemma, college students are scrambling to find affordable, comfortable places to hang their hats without amassing even more debt.
Dorms are a viable option for some, but they often come with crowded bathrooms, shared bedrooms, and sometimes university housing is even more expensive than local apartments.
Toronto HomeShare noticed both of these issues and came up with a solution. The Canadian organization pairs older homeowners with money-strapped college students. In exchange for handling some household chores and providing company, students are able to live in cozy, familial environments without breaking the bank.
The pairings don’t just benefit the older partner emotionally. As Nick, a 27-year-old grad student who lives with 75-year-old Maureen and her adult daughter, told Toronto Life, “Coming back home to Tara’s family balances me out because it’s such a relaxed atmosphere here. If I’ve had a hard day and I’m feeling low, there’s lots of love in the air. There was one day in early December when I was in tears, and everyone here hugged me.”
The level of care that older housemates needs vary. Maureen has dementia, so her daughter appreciates the extra help Nick can give when she’s not around.
Older roommates might have the occasional trouble bringing groceries in from the car or might need someone to remind them where they’ve put their house keys, or they might just crave someone to talk to. Students who’ve moved to a new city, far from their families and the comforts of a home-cooked meal, find a peaceful respite from the bustle of university life in their living situation
Expanding to other cities
This practice is already expanding to other cities. Boston’s Nesterly is a homeshare app for senior/student living pairings, and residents living in St. Louis’s Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood can apply to participate in Homeshare St. Louis.
The emotional and practical benefits of senior/student homeshare programs are clear, and they might just make college grads wonder why this wasn’t an option when they were sharing dingy bunk beds with other co-eds.