Having a housemate during retirement can free up money for a better standard of living.

4 minute read

Housing is one of the biggest expenses retirees face, according to a 2019 report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). As a result, many older adults open their homes to a roommate to help cut monthly housing costs and other expenses.

Cohabitating after you retire can save money, and some people love the company, but not everyone is cut out for living with a roommate.

Below are eight pros and cons of having a roommate in retirement.

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1. Pro: Save big on housing expenses

One of your biggest expenses in retirement is housing. Inviting a roommate to move in and pay half the mortgage payment or rent will free up hundreds of dollars each month. And if your mortgage is already paid off, you can sock away hundreds in savings, use extra money or pay for home repairs or improvements without dipping into retirement savings.

Find out: 6 Ways Downsizing can Stretch Retirement Income

2. Con: Less privacy

If you’d rather not encounter another person first thing in the morning, waking up to a roommate in your kitchen or watching TV in the living room may not be for you. Giving up your privacy is the price of saving on monthly rent or mortgage payments and utilities. Is it worth it? You decide.

Find out: 6 Reasons You May Want to Delay Retirement

3. Pro: Social contact is better for your health

Many older adults say their top reason for getting a roommate is a desire for companionship, according to the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The advantages of having someone to hang out with can even surpass the benefits of saving on housing and utility costs.

Social connections may benefit your health and even lengthen your life, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).“People who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose,” says the NIH. “These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function.”

Find out: Know These 6 Crucial Dates for Retirement Planning

4. Pro: Cut monthly utilities in half

Tired of paying hundreds of dollars for utilities each month? Split those costs with a roommate, and you’ll have lots of extra money for dining out, groceries, entertainment, travel or adding to retirement savings.

For example, if you were paying $600 a month for utilities living alone, and your monthly utilities go up to $700 when you live with a roommate, you’ll still only pay $350 a month instead of $600. That’s a savings of $3,000 a year.

Find out: 5 Big Expenses to Prepare for in Retirement

5. Pro: Share household chores

Having one more person in the house usually means more dirty dishes, additional clutter and floors that need to be swept more often. But that person can also lend a hand keeping the house clean, shopping for groceries or running to the drugstore to pick up items when you’re sick.

Your roommate may even be open to performing work you typically pay for, such as lawn care or minor home repairs, in exchange for a small reduction in rent.

Find out: 7 Reasons to Work Part-Time in Retirement

6. Con: You’ll need to make adjustments

When you live by yourself, every room in the house is your own. But if you plan to open your home to a roommate, you have to give up some space. After all, your new roommate wants to feel at home, too.

You may have to move your home gym to the basement to give the new person a private room. You might have to clear out a closet or make more counter space. Maybe you’ll need to organize the garage so a second car fits.

If you’re good at adjusting to change without resenting the person you had to make the changes for, having a roommate could work for you. If not, any ensuing roommate drama ahead may outweigh money-saving benefits.

Find out: 6 Surprise Costs That can Drain Retirement Savings

7. Pro: You’ll save on pet sitting

If you have a dog or a cat, or multiple pets, then you know how expensive it is to hire a pet sitter to come to the home or board the animals when you travel. When you have a roommate, however, he or she can feed or walk them as usual when you’re gone – just like you’ll do for the roommate’s pets when that person travels.

Not only will you have more freedom to travel, but you can also easily save hundreds of dollars or more each year on pet sitting expenses when you have a roommate to keep your pets happy and safe while you’re gone.

Find out: 6 Eleventh-Hour Strategies for Baby Boomers Facing America’s Retirement Crisis

8. Pro: Living with another person is safer

What if you fall down the stairs while living alone? You could languish for days before someone finds you. Not so when you have a roommate who can drive you to the hospital or call an ambulance. You don’t have to be in a crisis to enjoy the safety benefits of a roommate, either.

When two people live in a house, it’s usually occupied more time than when only one person lives there. That can make your home less of a burglary target. And when things go wrong, such as a water pipe break or other home repair fiasco, you’ve got two people to help fix the problem or figure out the best plan of action.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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