More Retirees Seeking Roommates

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Retired senior citizens are increasingly showing more interest in sharing their homes with others who are likeminded and similar in age.

Notably, retired homeowners are leasing out rooms or apartment units at their properties to either shed some of their mortgage payments or to make additional money on the side. A few of them even admit that they purposely seek people to live at their properties to create a sense of communal atmosphere, as they spend more time at home.

Homeowners who are simply looking for friends with no financial burden often make a portion of their home available for free with the incoming tenant only responsible for basic utility fees.

Until the 20th century, most homeowners nearing retirement had little to no mortgage payment left in their balance. However, as the real estate market has changed drastically since then, there is an increasing number of retired homeowners who still have a significant amount of mortgage payments left even after leaving the workforce.

Although only 16 percent of homeowners who were 65 or older in 1998 still had remaining mortgage payments to make, the figure increased to 24 percent in 2012, according recent data released by the U.S. government.

During the same period, the amount of remaining mortgage payments also increased considerably, as the debt reportedly rose by 82 percent at an average of $79,000 in 2011 compared to 2001.

The financial pressure stemming from debts has changed the lifestyle of many senior citizens. Although some of them choose to resell their homes and relocate, others are seeking roommates to reduce the financial responsibility and also for companionship.

For example, Let’s Share Housing is an online service providing connection between homeowners and potential tenants in Portland, Ore. Since 2009. Until 2013, approximately 80 percent of the site’s users were baby boomer women.

Similarly, more and more senior citizens are expressing interest in Airbnb, another online service providing short-term housing for travelers across the world.

Airbnb has revealed that 58 percent of the posters on the site who are 60 or older have responded to a recent survey, saying that they are currently providing accommodation to guests to earn money to cover their living expenses. The total revenue generated among them is estimated to be around $747 million.

However, some senior citizens are simply inviting tenants to live at their properties for companionship.

“I’ve been on my own since my husband passed away,” said 84-year-old L.A. Koreatown resident Young-sook Kim. “I feel so lonely. I just need someone who will move in and be a friend. I wish there was an organization that could help me find people that way.”

By Byong Il Km

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