Bonnie Moore, a Baltimore-area management consultant, has turned being a "Golden Girl" into a full-time business.
Moore, 70, got a divorce 15 years ago and after a few years found she couldn't support her five-bedroom house on a single woman's income. So she decided to emulate the experience she saw on TV of Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia, who shared a house -- and a lot of laughs.
She quickly discovered that the TV show made sharing a house with strangers look easier than it is in reality, but handled properly it can be an economical and fun way to live. As a result, she wrote a book called "How to Start a Golden Girls Home," the second edition of which was just released last week. And now she's turned it into a business that offers a nationwide matchmaking service, Golden Girls Network, for older people -- mostly women -- who want to live in their own "Golden Girls" shared-living arrangment.
She says her target market is single women between the ages of 50 and 70. "More than likely she is divorced, her kids have grown up. Maybe she got the house and hubby got the retirement money," she says.
2 frequently asked questions
The most frequent question she gets is, "How do multiple women share just one kitchen?" In her own "Golden Girls" home where five women live, Moore says everybody shops and cooks for themselves. There are two refrigerators, a schedule for taking out the garbage and a weekly cleaning service. If you break something, you have to replace it, and people who obsess over cleanliness aren't welcome.
Which brings her to the second-most frequent question: "How do you get rid of roommates you don't like?" The answer is simple, Moore says. "You tell them to leave. ... You might go through a couple of months of being uncomfortable, but eventually the person leaves and you look for somebody else."
The rent you are likely to earn -- or pay -- will be competitive with the price of a one-bedroom apartment in your area, and it will include small extra charges for things like sharing cable, Internet and supplies such as soap and paper products.
The best part of the arrangement, Moore says: "It addresses the problem of loneliness, which can become a major issue in old age. I don't like living alone. I like to be able to walk in the door and have someone say, 'Hi, how was your day?'"
Here's more about various home sharing arrangements for older people.