By now, we all know about the rise in single people and that, for the first time in U.S. history, there are more single people than there are married people.
And because of this growth in the number of single people, all kinds of interesting things are happening to change the status quo. For example, having roommates used to be a temporary step until you got yourself together: while in college –or- shortly after graduating but before finding a job with an income high enough for you to afford your own place –or- before you set up house with your significant other.
Having a roommate used to be something only young people do…but not anymore.
I recently came across a book called My House, Our House by Louise Machinist, Jean McQuillin, and Karen Bush, three single women who bought a house together and have been successfully living together as grown-up roommates for seven years, and counting. They call it “cooperative housing” and it may be the next new wave of living styles, as more people remain unmarried but don’t necessarily want to live alone. The book even has a quiz in the back to help you decide if cooperative living is for you.
And while seven years ago, what Louise, Jean, and Karen were doing might have been seen as odd, it’s becoming a little more common. The NY Times recently ran an article on the growing numbers of people –often women, but not always—who are shacking up with likeminded adults.
This concept, also called communal living, is an opportunity for people who aren’t married but don’t necessarily want to live alone to share their lives with people who think like they do. It’s also an opportunity to save money and to go to bed at night with the consolation that if you have an emergency, someone is there.
Beyond the financial and security advantage, there are other upsides to having grown-up roommates, including having someone to share the housework and cooking, built-in companionship, and someone to kill bugs if that’s not your thing.
If you’re thinking about this, background checks and references are essential. Plus, you should spend some time with your potential roomies to make sure you really do get along.
I kind of like this idea. While I love living alone, I can appreciate that there may come a time when I no longer want to and I like that there’s a reasonable option. I envision a situation like the Golden Girls, where I’m living, laughing, fighting, and just having fun with a couple of girlfriends on an all-the-time basis. This could become a new normal. It’s an interesting concept that I bet we’ll see more of in the coming years.