Unexpected Roommate Matches: The Benefits of Intergenerational Roommate Arrangements

Older adults and younger adults both desire to live independently but often struggle to achieve this goal. Consequently, multiple generations are taking inventory of their individual strengths and considering their potential value to others in exchange for resources that can help them live independently. For instance, older adults often have houses that they find unnecessarily large and may struggle to maintain, while younger adults find themselves struggling to afford housing but are capable of performing tasks that may be difficult for older adults. In turn, older adults are increasingly subletting part of their houses to young adults at more affordable rates in exchange for services such as housework, gardening, and occasionally grocery runs. Thus, the strengths and weaknesses of both generations can make them a great match as roommates.

These intergenerational arrangements may be more common than you think. According to PEW, more than 60 million Americans live in multigenerational households, which is 18% of the US population. These arrangements have quadrupled in the US since the 1970s.

Beyond the exchange of housing and chores, both older and younger adults are also benefiting socially from each other and find that the arrangement is beneficial in combatting loneliness. Younger adults also note that they enjoy hearing stories about the lives of their older roommates, which they find fruitful with wisdom.

Several organizations have programs that encourage such living arrangements. Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, has paired with a local senior living residence to create a program that allows students studying music to live at the center rent-free in exchange for concerts several times a month. Similar programs have also been implemented at Winona State University in Minnesota, Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and the University of California at Berkeley. An online platform called Nesterly has even been created to help pair young and old adults as roommates.


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Free, C. (2022, July 15). One roommate is 85, the other is 27. Such arrangements are growing. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/07/15/multigenerational-housing-roommates-nesterly-senior/

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