Is Getting a Roommate in Your Golden Years Worth It?
I am still pretty far away from retirement. But with each passing day, it’s getting a lot less abstract. In fact, it hits home every time I watch my own parents or my friends’ parents transitioning into retirement.
The Gen X Retirement Plan
I’m a Gen Xer. We’ve been hit hard by negative financial headwinds, our entire lives culminating in the Great Recession. And many of us seem to be having a difficult time regaining our financial footing. The Great Recession hit millions of millennials, too — and in their prime earning years. Fortunately, they still have time to make good.
The US News and World Report recommends that millennials should consider saving $2 million dollars if they want to retire in comfort. That’s a serious number to consider. Because of numbers like these, I thought it was time to consider some alternative approaches to prepare for my own retirement.
Minimizing or eliminating the cost of housing was first on my list of ways to cut costs in retirement. Like finding a roommate to share or underwrite your housing costs. I’m inspired by two shows: Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland.
Getting a roommate in your golden years could be a lot of fun, right? The ladies in ‘Golden Girls’ certainly seem to enjoy themselves.
They thrive in a supportive community and, of course, save a bunch of money. But are shows like these pure fiction?
The Case for Getting a Roommate in Your Golden Years
I currently live in Denver, Colorado, and the average rent here is around $1,256 a month for a one-bedroom unit. That’s $15,072 a year, not including electricity, groceries, internet, cable, and maintenance. Thankfully, I have found that finding roommates of a similar age group isn’t all the difficult. If I can cut housing expenses by 60 percent by getting a roommate, even for a few years, it would make a huge difference in terms of saving or investing for the future.
Using Roommates to Bolster Your Retirement Savings
For people who haven’t saved enough for retirement, getting a roommate in your golden years is worth considering as a long-term or short-term solution. Home sharing could also be beneficial when trying to grow your retirement savings. If you have a house that has a $1,500 monthly mortgage and it has several spare bedrooms, there is an opportunity to rent out your rooms to well-vetted tenants.
If you are a person looking to rent in a situation like this, you have a few issues to think about when negotiating your rent: potential heating and electric contributions; internet service expenses; and potentially sharing grocery and maintenance expenses.
All of these expenses should be taken into account before you decide to live in a group housing situation. Maybe a tiny home would be a better investment — or even a micro-apartment.
With the rise of the sharing economy — bikes, cars, and ride-share services — the idea of factoring in a communal living arrangement is not so unusual. If living with a couple of people will help me bridge the gap between what I have now and the amount that experts say I’ll need in retirement, then I need to have that internal conversation starting now.
I’m going to be honest: I’m not sure that I could deal with living with roommates just yet. So I’m increasing the amount that I’m saving each month towards retirement so that I will have more options down the road. I’m just excited that I’ve discovered another way to approach slashing the cost of my future retirement if needed. And if my future roommates are as fun as the trio from Hot in Cleveland, it might not be so bad.
Ideally, I would prefer to avoid getting a roommate in my golden years. And because the $2 million target seems so daunting, I will begin aggressively working on my retirement plan. Saving $2,000 might not be possible right now, but every little bit counts, and it will compound over time. While I might not reach $2 million, $1 million will give me options — I can be picky on the kind of roommates I want.