Single older women are increasingly looking to shared housing to reduce housing costs, increase social connectedness and reduce loneliness and social isolation.
This section excludes the construction of secondary dwellings on your own or the land of a relative. This section also excludes situations where shared housing arrangements have been in place for some time, e.g. with an adult child, adult sibling or friend.
Opening your current home to others
This can be a great way to reduce the cost of housing and avoid the cost of moving. The first question is, “Am I looking for short-term or long-term sharing?”
Finding short-term home shares could be through Airbnb or other sites, or through the hosting of students. Longer-term tenants could be sourced by using social media and other platforms to seek a compatible co-tenant.
Either way, the income you earn (less any costs) will need to be accounted for with regards to taxation and any Centrelink benefits you may receive.
Moving in with others
Alternatively, you may be interested in moving into a shared housing arrangement – perhaps an existing shared house, or starting from scratch with someone who you feel you will be compatible. Either way, clearly understanding how your shared arrangement will work and the lifestyles of your sharers will be important to getting the arrangement off to a good start.
Sharing with family – Multi-Family Housing
You might be invited to move in with family; perhaps your parents or children. Mutual support, shared costs and shared care are some of the advantages of these arrangements. Some families plan these arrangements; for others they can emerge as a response to need or crisis. The arrangement may commence with the intention that it will be permanent, or it may be intended only as a temporary arrangement.
These arrangements do come with special warnings, especially where financial arrangements – outside of equitably sharing the day to day costs – are involved. They can also be the most difficult to negotiate sound agreements and contracts. Having sound legal advice and good initial agreements which are regularly reviewed will reduce the risk of conflict.
Housesitting is another option for older women. This is often combined with living in camper vans or caravans or with families. Women who do this report that they get to live in a variety of homes and locations, see and experience new areas and neighbourhoods and get a break from living with family or being on the road.
Most housesitting arrangements involve provision of rent free accommodation. Housesitting comes with a wide range of responsibilities, which may range from just bringing in the mail and taking out the garbage to care for gardens, pets and livestock. Being good with pets and, increasingly, being tech-savvy can be an advantage. Some housesitters report that they do an annual cycle of engagements for regular clients.
Housesitters need to be flexible and adaptable, and in most locations your own transport is essential. Having somewhere to live between engagements is also a must. Bear in mind that the demand for housesitters is mainly for very short periods and it may take you a fairly long time to establish yourself as a good house sitter. Also keep in mind what the homeowner is seeking from the arrangement – home security, maintenance and pet companionship and care generally being the top three. Most will expect you to spend quite a lot of time at home rather than being a local tourist. There are a number of websites that match sitters with people seeking this service.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
As with all options careful research is needed. Key questions to ask:
- Why do I want to share? What are my priorities?
- Where do I want to live?
- What is my fall back plan if this does not work out? If housesitting, what will I do between engagements?
- What skills do I have that will make this a success and what will I need to develop?
- What will my income and expenditure be? Have I checked out any taxation or Centrelink implications?
- If sharing with family, who does what and when and who pays for what? What will happen if our circumstances change?
Using your home to host paid guests can be one way of increasing your income and can help maintain your current home Airbnb is the largest online site connecting hosts and guests seeking short term accommodation.
Live in Carers – 0413117013
This Australia-wide service provides affordable live-in social support to those in need and an affordable alternative to moving into a nursing home. Both short-term placement (1-4 weeks) and long-term placement (6 months onwards) services are available.
Flat Mate Finders
Finding someone you can share your home with can be a challenge so a number of one line sites have been set up to match compatible home sharers. Established in 1987, Flatmate Finders receives over 3,000 new listings weekly and is Australia’s largest flatmate matching service. Fees apply if you are offering accomodation but not if you are looking for a place in a share home.
Finding someone to share your home is just the start of the adventure – making it work for all of you is the next stage. There are a number of app available to make the financial and homemaking parts of sharing easier and less stressful. Chorma is one app to help make sharing run smoothly.
Elder Abuse Help Line – 1300 651 192
Sadly Elder Abuse is a reality in our community – Free confidential advice and support – this helpline is funded by the Queensland Government.
One of a number of sites that link people who want house sitters with people wanting to house sit. Established in 1983 and especially targeted at people seeking house and pet sitters.