Think of roommates, and you probably picture college or young adulthood, when the idea of sharing space, furniture, and most likely a sink full of dirty dishes was worth it for the camaraderie and lower rent. 

Once they said goodbye to having a non-relative roommate, though, most adults traditionally never went back.

But the times they are a-changin’: Boomers now represent the fastest-growing segment of adults in the market for roommates.

Major life events such as divorce or the death of a spouse may force the housing issue for older people.

That’s according to data from SpareRoom.com, a roommate and housing service, which conducted a survey of more than 6,000 roommates in the United States to find out some of the habits and preferences among boomers who rent.

The survey shows an increasingly tenuous housing situation for adults over 50 due to cost-of-living increases that people simply can’t keep up with.

Furthermore, major life events such as divorce or the death of a spouse may force the housing issue for older people.

The survey claims that the number of people over 50 living with roommates is growing at nearly double the rate of any other age group, and has gone up 27% in the past year alone. One in five people over 50 living with a roommate are doing so for the first time.

Affordability is the main reason for this uptick in roommate seeking, as 63% of respondents over 50 report being “rent burdened,” and 9 out of 10 of people over 50 say they live with others for the financial benefits. 

A 2018 report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) partly concurs. Its data shows a rise in adults over 65 who are living with a non-relative.

In particular, the JCHS data shows a dramatic increase between 2006 and 2016, when the percentage of older adults sharing their homes grew from 1.3% to 1.8%, which in raw numbers was an increase from roughly 470,000 to 988,000 people.

Another factor driving older Americans to seek out roommates has been the proliferation of services designed to help specifically in this area.  Companies that offer assistance for finding intergenerational homesharing such as Nesterly and Silvernest are just two of the many options available for people looking to either rent a room, or find a renter.

As rent prices project to keep rising, and boomers retire in ever greater numbers, it’s possible this simply becomes a “new normal” of aging

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