Finding a Housemate, Not a Mate, in Late Life

Marianne Kilkenny founded Women for Living in Community, an organization that offers advice to people interested in shared living arrangements. The organization is similar to the fictional one that captured her attention in the novel “The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love.” She has succeeded in helping other women, and some men, arrange shared housing as they grow older while avoiding the downsides of such a move.

Kilkenny believes “aging in community” is a viable alternative to growing older alone. A growing number of 60- to 65-year-old women appear to agree with Kilkenny. The percentage of women 65 and older who choose not to live alone has grown to 3.8 percent, up from 2.96 percent, in the 2012 American Community Survey. The percentage of men 65 and older has remained the same at 9.1 percent.

With men more likely to remarry at higher rates, women are increasingly looking for alternatives to living alone. Shared living space is often driven by economic factors such as housing costs, a third or more of living expenses for people 55 and older. “With the recession, people were looking at home-sharing as a way to financially help themselves during difficult times,” said Kirby Dunn, executive director of HomeShare Vermont. However, economics is not the only reason these women are looking to home sharing. The desire for companionship can be equally compelling. Another determining factor can be the desire to remain in the same community, rather than moving to a more affordable place.

Though, finding housemates or roommates is not an easy task, requiring a lot of internal investigation. Kilkenny’s organization handles the research from a safety point with background checks and references, but the individual must identify what they want first in order for home sharing to work well.  Organizations like the National Shared Housing Resource Center list agencies throughout the country to help people find others to share space with. Things to consider before entering into a home sharing situation include agreements made for payment, the length of arrangement and plans for its termination if it does not work. With all things considered, Kilkenny still enjoys the freedom of not having to maintain the property while having the company of a roommate. 


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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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