Modern Day Golden Girls: Boomers Becoming Roomies

by Judith A. McGee

It’s no secret that women tend to outlive men. By some estimates, one in three people over 50 is single, and in that group there are three times as many women as men.  That means a lot of women are left to go it alone.  But it doesn’t mean they have to go it alone.  

Remember Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia, those famous original Golden Girls? They’ve become the models for a new era. In the June, 2013 issue of the AARP Bulletin, an article entitled “Home Sweet Home” described how four million women over the age of 50 currently are house sharing with at least one other woman in the same age group. And when AARP analyzed census data they found that approximately 132,000 households and 490,000 people live in a “Golden Girls” situation!

The roommate advantage

Some of these women are divorced, widowed, or never married, are struggling with finances, or they are simply tired of living alone.  Many want to maintain some privacy, but they also want companionship and colleagues nearby, so are content with a private room in the house. 

Roommates share expenses, experiences, and interests.  They expand social connections, increase safety and security, and build support systems for the future. And of course they can enjoy some good old-fashioned fun and friendship.

Finding the right match

Much like the original online dating services, house-sharing services are starting to crop up.  One enterprising woman right here in Portland, Oregon noticed this growing trend, and is helping single senior women, as well as others, find suitable housemates with the Let’s Share Housing website. There are numerous services including The Golden Girls Network and Roomates4Boomers, among others.  

A simple online search can help you can find the right fit for your needs. Since this is not about returning to yesteryear and the old college roommate scenario with all night pizza parties and sharing lip gloss, be sure to check out those all-important guidelines for screening potential housemates, written agreements, division of chores, lifestyle expectations, and legal issues. 

Traveling companions

Maybe you’re not ready for the whole house-sharing scene.  Maybe you just want to travel and are looking for more of a short-term Golden Girl adventure. You don’t like those big tour groups, but would prefer to not go alone—and in many situations, it’s simply not advisable to travel alone. But you’ve asked your friends and family members and nobody is up for a trip. Where do you begin?

Locally, you might start with the Portland Travel Meetup Group or the Portland International Travel Meetup Group

There are currently hundreds signed up, so just join to start receiving the latest meeting news. If you don’t see any upcoming trips posted that appeal to you, be proactive. Post something yourself and see if you generate any interest.  If so, you’d get a chance to meet the people ahead of time and judge whether they are a good fit for your interests.

Choosing a travel companion

Maybe this is your first trip; you’re apprehensive, or unfamiliar with your destination. Having the right person to share the experience can help ease the situation.

But before you commit to the trip, it goes without saying that you’ve established that your potential traveling companion can be flexible, agrees to a budget, and has similar interests and travel styles. If you’re into backpacking, roughing it, and sleeping out under the stars, then a high-maintenance spa lover is definitely not a good match.

Before you plan a long journey, consider taking a short trip together, like sightseeing in a nearby city for an overnighter. If you’re still speaking when you return, this is a good sign!

The bottom line is, there is no reason to stop enjoying your life just because you do not have a “significant other.”  There are plenty of others in your situation.  It’s simply a matter of putting yourself out there and letting them find you.