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The Perks of Roommates With a 50-Year Age Difference

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Intergenerational homesharing has taken off. The pandemic has complicated the calculus, but some say it’s more vital than ever.

From their first conversation, Nellie Goodwin knew that she and Sarah would make great roommates. For Nellie, 77 and recently widowed, Sarah’s sunny personality was a balm, and her weekend trips back to her parents’ house in the suburbs meant Nellie could still sometimes have the house to herself. For Sarah, who didn’t make a whole lot of money as a 25-year-old technical writer, the $600 Nellie charged for rent put pricey Cambridge, Massachusetts within reach.

The half-century between their ages didn’t faze either of them. “We were very connected,” says Goodwin, who found Sarah through a service called Nesterly that matches older and younger people as roommates. The idea is that each age group benefits from the arrangement in a particular way. For Goodwin, having Sarah around “made me feel less lonely after losing my husband.” And for Sarah, says Goodwin, “It gave her a place to live — housing prices in the Boston area are exorbitant.” 

But services like Nesterly face a unique challenge during the pandemic. At the very moment when many older people who are acutely susceptible to Covid-19 could use extra assistance, it has become risky for them to be in proximity to others, making intergenerational cohabitation a fraught prospect. A while back, Sarah moved to Alabama, where her fiance is getting his doctorate. Goodwin, who suffers from chronic health issues, is now on her own again. “I feel very isolated in a lot of ways, but I just can’t take the risk,” she says, “I’ve been getting requests [through Nesterly] from kids who are coming back to school in the Boston area and are looking for a place to live, but I’ve had to say I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Once it’s possible to safely cohabitate again, however, such living arrangements may snap back quickly. Before the pandemic struck, Americans were beginning to drastically change their approach to who they live with. A 2018 survey found that nearly one in three adults were living with someone who is neither a parent nor a romantic partner. More than ever, people seem to be open to unorthodox living arrangements to solve their housing problems, whether those problems be affordability, loneliness or otherwise.

Read the full story, here: https://reasonstobecheerful.world/youth-senior-homesharing-roommates-pandemic/

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