‘Roomies’ an option for Aussie seniors?

AUSTRALIA, known for its vast landscapes and spacious homes, is witnessing a significant shift in its housing landscape. 

According to a recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, households in the country are becoming smaller, with more Australians opting to live alone. 

The report reveals that over a quarter (26 per cent) of households are now occupied by a single person, marking a steady increase from 18 per cent in 1981. 

The average household size has also decreased from 2.6 people in 2016 to 2.5 people in 2021, signaling the first decrease in household size in over two decades.

The trend of smaller households can be attributed to various factors, including couples choosing to have fewer or no children, and an increasing number of individuals opting to live independently. 

As the Australian population ages, more households now consist of older couples or young couples without children, which was less common in previous generations.

While living alone offers independence and autonomy, it can also lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly for seniors. 

• Could finding a housemate help some seniors overcome loneliness?

In response to this challenge, an innovative solution is gaining traction across the country – shared rentals. Shared rentals, also known as house sharing or flatmate arrangements, involve multiple individuals sharing a rental property and its associated costs. 

While not exclusive to seniors, this living arrangement has become particularly attractive to older Australians, especially those on fixed incomes.

One of the primary motivations for seniors to explore shared rentals is the potential for substantial cost savings. 

With rent, utility bills, and other expenses divided among the tenants, living in a shared rental becomes more financially feasible compared to maintaining a home alone or residing in a retirement community. This affordability factor allows seniors to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without straining their budgets.

Moreover, shared rentals offer more than just financial benefits. 

Loneliness can be a significant issue for some seniors, especially if they are living alone or far from their families.

By sharing a rental property with others, seniors can enjoy companionship and social interaction, which can have a positive impact on their mental and emotional well-being. 

Additionally, responsibilities such as household chores and maintenance can be distributed among the occupants, providing practical assistance to seniors with physical limitations or health conditions.

To facilitate this emerging trend, various online platforms and community networks have emerged, connecting seniors interested in shared rentals with potential housemates. 

These platforms ensure a compatible living environment by helping seniors find like-minded individuals with whom they can share accommodation.

While shared rentals offer a promising solution, it is essential to acknowledge that living arrangements can vary widely, and not all seniors may be suited for such arrangements. Some seniors may prefer independent living in their own homes, while others may find retirement communities or assisted living facilities more appropriate for their needs.

The trend of shared rentals is not unique to Australia; it has also been observed in other parts of the world, including the United States. 

According to research by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the number of older adults living with unrelated roommates in the US has grown significantly over the past decade. 


While the segment of the older population sharing their homes grew from 1.3 per cent to 1.8 per cent between 2006 and 2016, the number of older adults in these arrangements increased by 88 per cent.

As Australia’s housing landscape continues to evolve, the government and stakeholders must consider the changing needs of the population. 

Embracing innovative solutions like shared rentals may help address housing affordability and social isolation issues faced by seniors and pave the way for a more inclusive and connected society. 

By acknowledging and supporting diverse living arrangements, Australia can ensure that its citizens can thrive in the homes and communities that best suit their needs and preferences.

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