How homesharing redefines the meaning of roommates

Baby boomers are set to cash in on the trend

The word “roommate” immediately conjures up images of college students and recent graduates cramming one too many people into an apartment with rent that likely absorbs at least 50 percent of their monthly income.

Here in Colorado, this reality is all too common as the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,350. It’s not pretty, but the younger generation seems to be making it work as Colorado continues to lure a steady stream of millennials into our state.

But what does this mean for local residents age 50 plus? Colorado boasts the largest population of baby boomers per capita of any state, estimated as 32 percent by the U.S. Census. And this demographic is on a trajectory to swell to more than 140 million nationwide by 2030.

At the same time, baby boomers are beginning to face the realities of fixed income living and potentially chronic health concerns that make it more difficult to navigate this dynamic housing market. In addition, many wish to stay in their homes or “age in place” as they grow older. In fact, 75 percent desire to live in their own homes for the rest of their lives, while 64 percent are also looking for ways to lower their expenses.

Taking on a roommate is likely something they haven’t thought of in at least 30 years (cue image of college apartment with mom and dad’s hand-me-down furniture), but as the sharing economy continues to present new options to rethink how we access goods and services, finding or becoming a roommate later in life may be just the answer.

Spurred by the sharing economy, homesharing is a fast growing sector of the economy that is not just limited to younger generations.  According to Nielsen Research, nearly 10 percent of global baby boomers, ages 50 to 64, indicate they are likely to use or rent products from others in a sharing community.

And this number is significant given the high rates of homeownership among this population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 46 percent of homeowners ages 55 plus and 72 percent ages 65 plus own their home without a mortgage. Homesharing presents a new option for this aging demographic to monetize their existing assets and create greater financial stability, let alone shared experiences that can be so vital later in life.

Categories: Economy/Politics, Web Exclusives