Drafting a roommate agreement for seniors

Retirement » Senior Living »Drafting A Roommate Agreement For Seniors

Don TaylorDear Senior Living Adviser,
I am in my 60s and single. My girlfriends and I want to go all "Golden Girls" and live together to share expenses. We are concerned about coming up with a roommate agreement spelling out expenses. Can you help us decide how to budget?

Thank you.
-- Becky Budget

Dear Becky,
You've latched onto a hot topic in senior living: getting a roommate to share expenses. You're right to think through the financial aspects of the living arrangements before you start living together. There are a host of non-financial issues too, such as keeping the place clean, shopping, cooking and guests.

Cast of The Golden Girls

© Walter McBride/Corbis

You don't want to be like Sheldon in "The Big Bang Theory" with a roommate agreement that runs hundreds of pages and spells out every conceivable situation, but you do want to sort through financial responsibilities and chores.

Having a written roommate agreement is a good idea. Sites like offer sample roommate agreements.

Are you moving into a friend's home or signing a lease on an apartment together? The lease is a lot less tricky because there are no issues about whether your rent check should buy you any equity stake in the home's appreciation over time. That doesn't mean that one of you being the landlord can't work -- just that it adds a wrinkle to the mix.

On the financial side, I'd say that the roommates should split the bills equally, but there are always going to be grumbles about paying premium cable service, agreeing on where to set the thermostat, etc. If one of you can't live without HBO, and it's not important to the others, then reflect that in the budget. Preferences come with a price. Don't let that price be your friendships. Spell things out.

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