By Sara Geber
Have you ever been on a fabulous, long-planned “girls’” weekend and thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could live this way all the time”? Your vision might be something like that 1980s TV show The Golden Girls, where everyone had their own bedroom in a sprawling, one-level house and shared not just the kitchen and living room but good conversation, cocktails, and an opportunity to talk about the events of the day.
As it turns out, it’s not too far-fetched an idea. As the oldest boomers grapple with being in their late 60s and 70s and try to figure out what’s next, some are deciding that spending the rest of their lives alone isn’t very appealing.
If you are among them, this feeling might be new for you. Of the single women I know, some are divorced, a few are already widowed, and more than a handful have never had a partner and have been totally happy living on their own throughout their adult life. During their working years, having a private nest to return to after a hectic, trying day was something they wouldn’t have traded for any other lifestyle. However, after leaving a full-time job and assuming a much less structured life, they are noticing some gaps in lifestyle. It might be showing up as too much time in front of the TV or relying too much on the dog or cat for companionship. Pets do listen well, but they don’t contribute movie ideas or offer to help with dinner.
If you are still reading, you are probably among those who have at least thought of the idea yourself. Here are some ways you can take it beyond the private walls of your mind:
Start a conversation with your friends. You can even use this article as an ice-breaker. You can do it one at a time, broaching the idea to just one special friend, or you can get a few of your besties together and talk about it over a bottle of good wine.
Notice that I haven’t said a word about men, but everything I am suggesting here can work for men as well. I don’t see it very often, and I’m not sure how a mixed household would work, but if you have single men friends who are not romantic partners, those Y-chromosome holders might make good candidates, be they gay or straight. However, for the purpose of this article, I am going to focus solely on women.
Moving forward, let’s say you have gotten agreement from two or three friends to explore this idea further. What are some of your options?
- One or two of you moves into the home of a third friend who has the most suitable house. At a minimum, this requires a home with a private bedroom and bathroom for each resident. You will then have to agree on financial terms. You will need to decide how much rent is owed the homeowner each month and decide how to handle shared expenses (e.g. utilities, yard services, maintenance, repairs).
- You and your bestie(s) decide to jettison your current homes in favor of purchasing or renting a different place, more suitable for joint living. Sometimes the financials can be more easily worked out in this kind of arrangement than if one of you previously lived there on your own.
- Move somewhere entirely new to both of you. Here is a success story: I have a client who decided she wanted to move out of the city where she had lived and worked for 20+ years, but was nervous about making the move on her own. She found a friend who was interested in a similar transition, so they made the move together to a small mountain town in a nearby state. They rented for a while and things seemed to be going well, so just last year they purchased a home together.
- Depending on your age and inclination, you and your bestie(s) might also consider moving into a retirement community together. There are hundreds of gorgeous independent living retirement communities in the United States. Start with 55Places.com to look at some of the best retirement communities in the country. You may be familiar with the names Del Webb, Sun City, or The Villages. They are some of the largest and most popular. These communities exist mostly in the southern tier of states where it is warm much of the year to allow for maximum opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.
These are just a few of the ways you might spend some of the best days of your life with one or more of the people who love and understand you. But don’t limit yourself to these ideas. You will be a pioneer, you will be blazing new ground, so let your imagination run wild. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so start with whatever you have and build from there. Let’s start a movement of women supporting women throughout our entire lifetimes!