Communal Living in Retirement: The Pros and Cons

Real Estate Agent with

Active Adult retirement

In the mid-1980s, The Golden Girls hit the TV scene. They entertained viewers of all ages with the joys and pitfalls of growing older and sharing a home with close friends. Though these funny ladies portrayed a living arrangement that was ideal in many ways, there were also episodes which showed some memorable squabbles and disagreements. But what is it like to share a home in real life?

There are many pros and cons associated with communal living. By sharing a home, a group of friends or adult relatives can save money, but they can also provide each other with companionship and support. Yet roommates of any age are prone to having at least some conflicts, especially in close quarters.

One of the biggest benefits of having roommates is the ability to share living expenses. For most Baby Boomers, rent or mortgage payments are their largest expense. Those who own their homes realize that maintenance expenses can quickly pile up as well. Dividing these living expenses among two or more roommates can make it easier to find quality, affordable housing.

Yet sharing living expenses can also lead to many disagreements. Before moving in together, it’s important that everyone understands how living costs will be divided. This includes big items like the rent or mortgage, a range of home maintenance or repairs, and daily expenses like groceries and household goods.

Living together also means sharing in the upkeep of the home with tasks like regular housework and cooking. Most roommates are able to pitch in and divide up these chores in a way that is fair to everyone, but disagreements are sure to arise from time to time. For any living arrangement to work, housemates must be able to respect each others’ feelings and be willing to compromise as needed.

Many Baby Boomers turn to family members when looking for roommates. Sisters who are widowed, divorced or single often decide to take up residence together. Single parents may also decide to live with their adult children, as depicted by Sophia and Dorothy on The Golden Girls, or Martin and Frasier on the TV show Frasier.

Relatives can make great roommates, but these close relationships come with some special challenges. It can be hard for some parents and their adult children to break out of their previous roles and relate to each other as equals. Siblings can also be prone to meddling or feeling responsible for each other’s decisions. Yet, respectful communication, patience and forgiveness can go a long way toward making these situations work well.

The Golden Girls set an excellent example of active adults enjoying communal living. More recently, Betty White’s new show, Hot in Cleveland, is another example of how Baby Boomers who live together can enjoy affordable living, mutual support and valued companionship. Real life communal living may not come with the wacky hijinks of sitcom TV, but it can be a rewarding, beneficial experience.

This article originally appeared on For more articles like this or for information about hundreds of 55+ active adult retirement communities across the country, please visit


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