Many Women are Rethinking Their Retirement Style

Finances

American women live about five years longer than men, with the average U.S. man living to 76 and the average woman living to 81. This means that most American women will face the end of their retirement years without a spouse.

Women's longer lifespan makes it especially important for them to have retirement savings that last 20 years or more. But often the reverse is true, with women saving less than men, largely because they often take the caregiving lead – first for young children and later for elderly parents.

Because many women often live longer and save less, it's no surprise that many single women — whether divorced, widowed or never married — are choosing to live with one or more female friends. In fact, more than four million American women 50 and over live in a household made up of at least two women from that age group. In addition to female partners, this arrangement could include a female homeowner renting out rooms, women purchasing a home together or renting an apartment as roommates.

Benefits of living with roommates can include:

  • Saving money by sharing housing costs, utilities, home maintenance and sometimes food and household goods.
  • Sharing housework or yardwork — and eliminating the need to hire a pet sitter or someone to water the plants when you leave town.
  • Safety, such as your roommate noticing if you aren't home when expected or helping if you take a fall or have a medical emergency.
  • Companionship. In addition to the fun of having someone to share a meal or your favorite TV show with, the companionship of a roommate can ease loneliness and have real effect on your physical and mental health. Research shows that loneliness or isolation has a similar effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

If you're considering living with a roommate, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Start by asking friends and family if they know anyone who's looking for a roommate. If not, the nonprofit National Shared Housing Resource Center has a directory of home share programs, or you can try one of several roommate matching services targeted to seniors, such as Silvernest and Roommates4Boomers.
  • Agree on financial matters in writing, and make sure to collect all money — such as first month's rent and any security deposit — before your roommate moves in. If you're the homeowner and especially if you're considering buying a home together, work with an attorney to help draw up documents.
  • Agree on house rules in writing, particularly regarding smoking, chore division, sharing of food and other goods, and rules regarding guests.
  • Hold a regular meeting with all roommates to make sure things are going well for everyone.

Discuss your retirement lifestyle goals with your financial professional. Together, you can develop a strategy for a more financially secure retirement — no matter what your living arrangement may be.

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions that can help make your retirement dreams a reality.

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