A funny thing happened on the way to retirement. Baby Boomers didn't save the requisite amount of money to support themselves for an additional 30 years. Ooops! Maybe next time. This is one of the driving factors in the co-habiting/housing movement for older people in the U.S. today.
Here's what's going on. People are living much longer and the divorce rate for people in their 60s is skyrocketing (It's being called the "Gray Divorce". Apparently there are a lot of 60 year olds who look at their spouses, realize that they could potentially be together another 30-35 years and say, "Yeah, that's not going to work for me." Divorce in the later years is contributing to the growth of a huge group of single boomers and often results in a compromised financial picture too. That aside, there is a surprising statistic from the U.S. Census. Divorced, widowed or never married, today one third of baby boomers are single! Wow, that's a lot of single.
If I were a gambling woman (truth is, I've only ever won 19 packs of gum and a Mounds bar) But, if I were a gambling woman, I might start opening some singles bars for boomers. One third of 80 million boomers is almost 27 million single American adults over 50. There's a business opportunity there but that will have to wait for another column. In the meantime, this large group of singles is fueling the emergence of new types of living situations.The Golden Girls are back! No, not Blanche, Sophia, Rose and Dorothy (although we did love them) but a 21st century version of The Golden Girls is happening in real life. Group housing or cohabiting is starting to become a growing trend. According to Sally Abrahms' great article,
in last June's AARP Bulletin,
Sharing Home Sweet Home
four million Women age 50-plus live in households with at least two women 50-plus -- a number that is expected to rise.
Whether it's old friends figuring out a household together or single divorced women with houses looking to cut expenses by bringing in roommates, group living for women in particular has become a real trend. And this is only the beginning as more and more boomers enter their 60s. Why? Well, living together actually makes sense on a lot of levels. Here are 6 reasons.
1. The high divorce rate for 50+ may leave many with compromised financial pictures.
2. One third of boomers are divorced, widowed or never married.
3. Shared household expenses and chores helps everyone.
4. Group living provides regular social connections.
5. Safety in Numbers: you create a safer and more secure environment.
6. A built-in network to help with current or future health issues.
And here's one more reason (purely my personal opinion): it's probably a lot more fun to live with other people than by yourself. Think back to the college years in the dorms -- pizza parties, sharing lip gloss, sharing each others' clothes, all-night parties. OK, maybe the clothes sharing part isn't so great and I really can't stay up past 11:30 anymore, not even on New Year's Eve, but pizza parties are good and I need a new lip gloss. That actually sounds pretty good.
Net-net: The Golden Girls, a reasonably funny and now campy 1980s sitcom, featuring America's current sweetheart, Betty White, has become a reality. (In fact, Betty White is in another sitcom right now called Hot In Cleveland, all about four mature women living together.) Let's just hope that all 1980s sitcoms don't become reality or we'll be spending our twilight years sitting at a bar in Boston, where everyone knows our name, drinking beer with someone named Norm.