Intergenerational Housing: A Golden Opportunity for Seniors and Young Adults

An older and a younger woman taliking.

More young adults are now opting for rental arrangements with people in their 60s and 70s. (Image: Peter Maszlen via Dreamstime)

It is commonplace to come across instances of students or young professionals of the same age groups renting together. However, recently, a different trend has been observed. More young adults are now opting for intergenerational housing arrangements with people in their 60s and 70s.

Intergenerational housing whereby Gen Z and Millennials rent a room from an elderly homeowner is not limited to a particular region. It is now prevalent in many parts of the U.S. Also, religion and income level are not deterrents in this context either.

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Low rent plus chores

A Tufts University graduate, Nadia Abdullah has been sharing a house with Judith Allonby, who is 64 years old. After completing her course work, Nadia could not find suitable housing within her budget. Judith wanted to move out of her old home in Malden as its upkeep was becoming too much for her. She and Nadia found that an intergenerational housing arrangement would fit their interests. 

They came across Nesterly, an online service for home-sharing. They cleared the agency’s background check, and the agreement was that Judith would rent the first floor to Nadia for $700 per month. Nadia would also help with the housework and gardening chores.

They both are pleased with the arraignment and feel like they are living with family members. Nadia does not feel she is giving away freedom. On the contrary, she finds Judith quite flexible and accommodative. 

Nadia would also help with the housework and gardening chores.
Nadia would also help with the housework and gardening chores. (Image: Jarenwicklund via Dreamstime)

The high cost of living is driving the trend

In recent years, the number of people staying in intergenerational housing setups has increased. Generations United is a D.C.-based agency working on programs and policies linking generations. Its executive director Donna Butts believes the high cost of living makes it nearly impossible for young adults to find affordable accommodations in major urban areas today, which drives the demand for intergenerational housing arraignments.

She said: “Sometimes, just having somebody around to walk the dog and have a meal a few times a week can make a huge difference for an older adult. With young and older adults feeling the most isolated, connecting them is the right thing to do.”

In reality, many universities, including the University of California, Quinnipiac University, and Winona State University, foster such intergenerational housing programs. For example, Des Moines-based Drake University offers its music students a chance to live rent-free at one regional senior living center, provided they perform certain chores for the elderly residents.

Helping out while learning life lessons

The students find living with seniors better than sharing rooms with several roommates. Many feel staying with seniors helps them learn life lessons, such as financial and home ownership responsibilities. The older adults also think staying with young people makes them feel better about their situation. In addition, they feel relieved if a healthy and energetic roommate is there, especially when they are mobility challenged. 

This trend of young people renting from the elderly is becoming increasingly commonplace in Canada. For example, retired physics professor Michael Wortis, who ilives near Vancouver, stays with Siobhan Ennis, a health sciences graduate in his 20s. Wortis lost his wife in 2015 to Alzheimer’s disease and felt that having someone in the house would be better for him.

Ennis pays Wortis $400 monthly rent, mows the lawn, and cleans the yard. She also cooks meals, which Wortis finds impressive. They were paired with an agency named Canada HomeShare. Initially, they both had doubts, but now they feel the arrangement benefits both.

Intergenerational housing helps young people learn life lessons, such as financial and home ownership responsibilities.
Intergenerational housing helps young people learn life lessons, such as financial and home ownership responsibilities. (Image: Bogdan Hoda via Dreamstime)

Mutual benefits

The elderly find renting their homes to young people a winning proposition. They have someone able and energetic for the company, and the additional income helps them offset the cost of home ownership. Another person in an otherwise empty home also helps alleviate the loneliness many older men and women experience.

The students or young professionals find the arrangement great for studying and decompressing after work as the homes are usually quiet and orderly. They also find such intergenerational housing arrangements much better than staying with a loud, dirty roommate!

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